SA Rugby should make the Currie Cup an eight-week event that doesn’t conflict with the Vodacom URC, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.

I’ve made peace with the truth that the Currie Cup won’t ever once more be the competitors I grew up watching.

The 1995 event will all the time stand out for me. Going down within the heat afterglow of the Springboks’ World Cup win, six full-strength provincial groups – together with all of the Boks – performed fiercely aggressive dwelling and away matches in opposition to one another, earlier than the highest two on the log progressed to the ultimate.

Natal beat Western Province 25-17 in entrance of a capability crowd at Kings Park – regardless of the moist climate – and Gary Teichmann lifted the well-known golden trophy. He did so once more a 12 months later after his facet beat Transvaal in one other enthralling, full-strength remaining at a packed Ellis Park.

These days are lengthy gone. The Springboks haven’t featured within the Currie Cup in any respect for years, whereas South Africa’s URC franchises rightly prioritise that competitors and the Champions/Problem Cup.

With these tournaments clashing with the Currie Cup, the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Western Province are sometimes compelled to play B or C groups at home degree, so nobody ought to have been shocked when Griquas and the Pumas met within the 2022 remaining, or when the Cheetahs and Pumas contested the 2023 decider.

Earlier this 12 months, SA Rugby fashioned a committee to make suggestions to its common council about the best way ahead for the Currie Cup. They’ve principally acquired two choices – go away issues as they’re and the Currie Cup continues to be a low-interest growth event akin to the previous Vodacom Cup, or allow the Currie Cup to develop into a greater competitors that extra folks need to watch.

To realize the latter, SA Rugby should give the eight-team Currie Cup its personal slot within the rugby calendar in order that it doesn’t conflict with the URC.

The best method to do that is to start out the Currie Cup straight after the URC, with a single spherical of league matches adopted by a remaining (no semi-finals). That eight-week event could possibly be performed in June and July, and with the URC solely beginning in mid-September, non-Springbok URC gamers can be accessible for many of the Currie Cup (relying on their season workloads).

Bulls president Willem Strauss advised Rapport newspaper that ‘in a super world, a Currie Cup over a single spherical of matches can be the specified answer for the URC groups, however then one does a disservice to groups just like the Cheetahs, Griquas and Pumas. You don’t need that.’

These three groups (and little doubt the Griffons, too) need a double spherical of Currie Cup matches to provide them a assured 14 video games a 12 months, which is comprehensible. Nonetheless, these extra seven fixtures could possibly be discovered for them in one other event performed throughout the URC.

That event could possibly be the Mzanzi Problem, which SA Rugby created this previous season to offer the six First Division groups with extra matches.

It acquired off to a rocky begin with the controversial withdrawal of the Tel Aviv Heat’s invitation and there was extra destructive press when native groups objected to the San Clemente Rhinos’ choice to pick out as much as 18 gamers from Pretoria membership Naka Bulls of their match 23. However the Zimbabwean Goshawks, Kenyan Simbas and Namibia’s Welwitschias did carry one thing completely different to the native scene, and the Valke got a possibility to win their first silverware in 17 years.

SA Rugby could also be contemplating scrapping the Mzanzi Problem after the challenges it offered, however I’d urge them to increase it. Convey within the Cheetahs, Pumas, Griquas and Griffons, and maybe one other, stronger, overseas workforce, just like the Pampas who gained the Vodacom Cup again in 2011. Every workforce would play one another as soon as, with the highest 4 qualifying for the semi-finals.

The Mzanzi Problem would run concurrently with the URC and be adopted by a higher-quality Currie Cup that wouldn’t compete with some other membership/franchise rugby throughout a two-month interval.

SA Rugby has a golden alternative to get its season construction proper, as soon as and for all, and restore some status to the Currie Cup within the course of.

And if it doesn’t?

‘The Currie Cup will simply be watered down increasingly more and die a quiet loss of life,’ warned Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee.

Photograph: @CheetahsRugby/Twitter

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