Today I read “Don’t fool yourself” and article written by Mark Keohane for the Business Day recently and available on his website keo.co.za. in the article Mark goes on about how the Currie Cup has no real importance other than being a feeder for Super Rugby and that South Africans uses the Currie Cup to forget how bad their teams performed against the Top Southern hemisphere teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. HE goes on about how the results in Currie Cup rugby don’t mean anything in the greater scheme of rugby except in South African supporters minds. WP defeating the Bulls 42-6 and the Lions defeating Province the previous week means nothing according to him.
Well here is a different take on it from my point of view:
Currie Cup rugby has and will always be an integral part of South African rugby and the results and games carries more importance than what Mark thinks. In years gone by this was all the rugby we had and from there our Springboks were chosen. True today it will not make sense to select players only from Currie Cup rugby as it is not the highest form of provincial rugby in the country. Yet it is important to have a strong Currie Cup or domestic competition as this is where depth for teams are build. Super Rugby indeed feeds from Currie Cup and thus the results are as important as Super Rugby results. Mark tries to validate his point by saying the Lions won the Currie Cup last year and yet they finished 15th in Super Rugby this year. What he fails to also tell you is that the other 3 semi-finalists, WP/Stormers, Sharks and Bulls, all made it to the play-off stages of Super Rugby. In fact the Stormers played in the semis and the Sharks played the final. .
In 2009 The Cheetahs and Bulls played in the final after beating the Sharks and WP in the semi-finals. The Bulls and Stormers went on to contest the Super Rugby Final the next year. In 2010 the Sharks and WP contested the final after beating the Cheetahs and the Bulls. The Sharks made the play-offs of 2011 Super Rugby and the Stormers played in the semi-finals. To state that because the Lions finished last in Super Rugby after winning the Currie Cup the previous year is not a clear reflection. True the Lions did finish last but there are many factors that needs to be taken into consideration. The most important one being that the team that contested the final was not the same team playing in Super Rugby 2012. Here is the 22 from the final:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Doppies la Grange, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Joshua Strauss (captain), 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 CJ Van der Linde. Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse/JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Warren Whiteley, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar/Jaco Kriel, 20 Butch James, 21 Dylan des Fountain, 22 James Kamana
Lout of these 22 7 players were injured and unavailable for most of the season. They were Taute, Hollenbach, Rhodes, Van Heerden, Maku, Kamana and Des Fountain. Doppies le Grange left the Lions halfway through the tournament. Now show me a team that losses 8 front line players, have the added pressure of relegation hanging over them, that will not perform poorly. The Stormers struggled this year when hit by injury. Lucky for them it was only in one area of the team and not several key positions.
But let us leave that at that. Here are three points and after that you may decide for yourself how important the Currie Cup is:
1. Australia has no formal domestic competition. Since 2004 they have won Super Rugby only twice, The Brumbies in 2004 and the Reds in 2011. Outside of this the Waratahs made it to the semi-finals twice and finals twice, losing all of them. That is 6 semi-final spots in 9 years.
2. New Zealand plays the ITM Cup consisting of all 14 their provincial/club sides. New Zealand has dominated Super Rugby since 1996 and since 2004 has produced 8 Finalists and 4 winners. They have had 10 losing semi-finalists during this time.
3. South Africa has the Currie Cup with two tiers. We have our top 6 teams playing aginst each other in the premier division (top 8 up to 2011) and the rest in the first division. Since 2004 we have had 6 Finalist and 3 winners with 5 losing semi-finalists.
The Australians clearly lacks a feeder system and their conference is seen as the weaker of the 3 in Super Rugby. Viewers don’t care to watch Australian Derbies on TV and that says a lot. But like I said decide yourself how important Currie Cup rugby is.
As always this is just my view………………….
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