In its 120th year, the Currie Cup’s star continues to wane and it’s now simply a feeder tournament, writes Khanyiso Tshwaku
The absence of crowds at most Currie Cup games this year, even at the traditional derbies, must have hurt the unions.
After the glut of Super Rugby and Test matches, a Romeo had to die and, unfortunately, this ageless competition had to be the one that took the stick.
The tournament also did not prove that there was depth in the South African rugby structures.
That will only be determined by next year’s Super Rugby tournament, which will involve the Eastern Province Kings, but judging from the pasting they received at the hands of the Free State Cheetahs, they still have a mountain to climb.
It was probably more convenient for the SA Rugby Union to have the Cheetahs scrapping for their lives.
Not because they are the smallest of the cat family, but they are not as commercially important as the Blue Bulls or the Sharks.
The fact that the Pretoria union were at the bottom until the last round of matches must have set a few pulses racing.
Their fourth-place finish should not and cannot mask what has been a poor season.
They may have lost a few key players to Springbok call-ups, although admittedly blue-tinted selection glasses had more to do with that than form, but they should have kicked on from their moderately impressive Super Rugby finish.
At times they looked good but, ultimately, their 20-3 semifinal defeat to the Sharks showed up their one-dimensional approach.
As for the Griquas, a lack of depth and their ineptness at key times hindered them, but a fifth-place finish did justice to them.
Aside from the 42-32 win against the Lions at Ellis Park, their away form was a major stumbling block.
Without their verve and their amateurish approach to the game, the Currie Cup would have been even worse off.
Could the two sides who competed in yesterday’s final be considered the best?
In the case of the Sharks, yes.
Despite being the side that suffered most from Bok call-ups, they still managed to always be the team to beat.
Their forwards never let up and, except for three slip-ups on the road, they never gave an inch.
With better forwards, Western Province could match them.
But with the Currie Cup as it currently is, South African rugby can now only be judged by Super Rugby.