If Currie Cup is your thing, then I have some bad news for you. You are about to witness the long, and painful death of the world’s oldest and most fierce domestic rugby competition.
The new Super rugby draw recently released by SANZAR for 2011 basically kills off any possibility for South Africans to see their top players in the oldest domestic competition in the world, the Currie Cup.
In fact, if you love Currie Cup rugby, the new, revamped Super rugby competition is anything but ‘super’.
Firstly, I expect that the usual squad numbers for teams given the crazy demands of the new competition to increase from its traditional number of 30 members per squad. Even so, if we consider that a total of 150 players from South Africa will be involved in the Super rugby competition from middle of February, to possibly middle July (if they make the finals) and the international schedule to follow that, the Currie Cup will be nothing more than a glorified Vodacom Cup.
The finals or last match of the new Super rugby competition will conclude on the 9th July 2011, two weeks later, South Africa kicks off their Tri-Nations campaign in Sydney when they face the Wallabies. South Africa’s final match of the 2011 Tri-Nations will take place in Port Elizabeth on the 20th August 2011, three weeks before the Rugby World Cup kicks off in New Zealand where South Africa will play Wales on the 11th September.
In layman’s terms this means that our top 150 players (minimum) will be unavailable until the 9th July for domestic competitions of which 30 (minimum) will be unavailable until the end of the Rugby World Cup.
I however suspect that given injuries, conditioning programs and general player availability will see this number of 30 increase to a more realistic figure of between 45 and 50.
We have to remember that the format of this new Super rugby competition will also change in 2012 since next year is a Rugby World Cup year.
From 2012 and beyond there will be a blanket break of about 3 to 4 weeks for all teams in the Super rugby competition to make way for the traditional June incoming tours. In fact, in a non-World Cup year the new Super rugby competition’s tournament length will increase by 50% compared to the 31% increase next year…
Unfortunately, the Currie Cup fixtures for 2011 has not been released yet.
Regardless of this however, it becomes quite clear to see that we can basically forget about ever seeing our top rugby players, or Springboks, play Currie Cup ever again given that from 2012, the Tri-Nations will also undergo a complete change with the addition of Argentina to the competition which will increase its length in which its played.
I imagine New Zealand’s ITM Cup will suffer a similar fate as South Africa’s Currie Cup, while Australia is smiling from ear to ear having now established a brilliant domestic competition involving 5 teams who will play each other twice each year under the guise of a fully SANZAR sponsored new Super 15 competition – this after they failed miserably in trying to establish a domestic competition years ago on their own…
SA Rugby will have you know that they have increased their revenue by selling the rights to their domestic competition for the next 5 years and that they are the winners out of this new SANZAR brokered deal – not considering the long term damage this will have on the Currie Cup, while Australia’s John O’Neil is just happy to sit back and think; ‘As long as they keep on believing that, all is good…’Tweet