KSA Shark Β©

Currie Cup has lost its shine

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark Β©)

Posted in :Currie Cup, In the news on 13 Oct 2008 at 07:32

Western Province’s failure to make the Currie Cup semi-finals would not have been unexpected by anyone who joined me in a conversation with some Stormers management members in Johannesburg in May.

Gavin Rich writes in the Cape Argus that it was the aftermath of the Super 14 league game between the Stormers and the Lions at Ellis Park, the one where they scored three tries, one short of the four needed to put pressure on the other teams pushing for a place in the play-offs.

All the talk revolved around what needed to be done next time, where the improvements had to be made. And it was quite evident the conversation was directed at 12 months hence, not the few weeks that remained until the start of the domestic season.

Indeed, when the question was asked about the Currie Cup, it was one of the fitness advisers who made the point that the Currie Cup was only really relevant as a breeding ground for the Super 14.

The Super 14, as Stormers managing director Rob Wagner has subsequently often pointed out, is where the money is – and it is also quite obviously where the interest is.

This was a point borne out last week when 36,000 people pitched up for the deciding Currie Cup league match at Newlands.

That was considered a good Currie Cup turnout, but it was 10,000 less than would have been anticipated for a similar game in the Super 14, and what was considered an average turnout for Stormers matches in the competition in 2008.

The hospitality suites I visited before the match were not the vibrant, busy places they are in the Super 14 season. They were serving plates of chips instead of samoosas. Perception that WP had been performing below par would only partially explain this for, as was highlighted in a Weekend Argus article in May, the Stormers tend to draw big crowds even when they are in a losing sequence.

This might be an odd time to write about waning interest in the Currie Cup, as the two semi-finals played yesterday were sure to draw big crowds. But knock-out games are an exception to the rule.

Recently I had a chat with Brian van Zyl, chief executive of the Sharks, and he voiced similar concerns to the ones I wrote about two weeks ago.

The under-strength nature of the Currie Cup is not selling because people simply don’t see it as a realistic test of the strength of the respective provinces. That the Lions were celebrating an eight-point defeat to WP last week, and that the Cheetahs lost twice to Province this season, home and away, says everything you need to know about how much stronger WP are than two of the unions who are in the semi-finals.

Van Zyl is concerned that the under-strength component of the Super 14 gets people into the habit of not going to matches, something he feels was responsible for the killing off of interest in domestic cricket in this country. There are many people of my acquaintance who are religious about their attendance of Super 14 games but seldom bother to go to Currie Cup matches any more.

To debunk any theory that this has something to do with WP’s performances, we need to return to late June/early July, when the under-strength WP team lost narrowly to the Sharks in Durban before beating the Blue Bulls and Cheetahs at Newlands in the following weeks.

The Bulls game, supposedly the annual big north/south showdown, attracted only 21,000 through the turnstiles. The following week, even though WP were at that stage a winning team, was no better.

Admittedly it did rain, but rain didn’t frighten away the full-house that pitched for the Super 14 fixture against the Waratahs on what was possibly the worst night of an awful Cape winter.

What this tells us is that it is not just the rugby unions, the management and the players who focus on the Super 14, but the rugby public as a whole.

And this may become even more noticeable if moves to increase it to a Super 18, and thus extend the southern competition even further, are successful beyond 2010.

As the Stormers management members involved in that conversation back in May agreed, the Currie Cup might be a useful stepping stone if it gets players used to winning trophies. But in the modern world, it is the Super 14 that is the real thing.


  • Good gracious Gavin Rich – can I get you a tissue? πŸ™„ If the union isn’t prepared to play for the fans that enjoy the currie cup, then they’ve let themselves and their supporters down. If Problems aren’t careful, they’re going to line themselves up for some heartbreak in S14… Build your hype on the field!

  • Comment 1, posted at 13.10.08 09:32:51 by Frisbee Reply
  • Just another bias report by Rich, BTW what’s new πŸ™„

  • Comment 2, posted at 13.10.08 09:36:46 by Charlie Reply
  • can those grapes get any sourer, Mr Rich?

  • Comment 3, posted at 13.10.08 09:43:56 by robdylan (Go Sharks!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Par for the course.

    This guy is as regular as clockwork with his spindoctoring.

  • Comment 4, posted at 13.10.08 09:47:27 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • He’s passed the sour grapes and is now shoving unripened lemons in his face!

  • Comment 5, posted at 13.10.08 09:49:27 by Frisbee Reply

  • A winning team brings the fans. In saying that, these are tough economic times and the Sharks who have won 8 or 9 games in a row could only get 33K at the Semi. In saying that, the final will most certainly be full and I suspect people were saving for that game.

    And if he claims that the understrength is the issue, what about the Sharks then who were similarly affected?

    I agree that the format does lead to a situation where some teams are understrength, but that’s a good time to show your depth. Province might have 20 wings, but their recruiting has obviously been skewed in the wrong direction…

  • Comment 6, posted at 13.10.08 09:56:03 by Baldrick Reply

  • That’s rich, Mr Rich…

    However, he does have some things right, only his timing are lousy and smacks of sour grapes. I think if they do extend the super 14, it may well have an averse effect to what Gavin predicts. If the provinces are forced to wait longer for their super18 stars, they will need to ensure that their backup players are on par.

    So, instead of a weakened competition, we may well see a stronger, higher quality CC. Off course, it will take people with vision and not cry-babies like Mr Rich.

  • Comment 7, posted at 13.10.08 09:56:14 by Silver Fox Reply

    Silver Fox
  • Freeloader – I can just see this oke going from suite to suite scrounging (and pulling his nose up at) a free snack.

  • Comment 8, posted at 13.10.08 10:04:19 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • The CC is our S14 feeder and breeder… nothing more IMO… but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching it all the same…

  • Comment 9, posted at 13.10.08 13:40:13 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • If I had a suite at Newlands I’d serve chips AND samoosas at every match. πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 10, posted at 13.10.08 13:57:47 by McLovin Reply

  • I think you guys missed the important part, even though it was bolded:

    “Gavin Rich writes in the Cape Argus

  • Comment 11, posted at 13.10.08 14:03:47 by VinChainSaw Reply
  • Well neither of the semi’s were sold out on saturday. The sharks should have advertised that they planned to include a dwarf tossing contest in their match. That may have drawn a sell-out crowd.

  • Comment 12, posted at 13.10.08 14:23:52 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • Is dwarf tossing not illegal in SA? At some point I thought the ref was going to stop the match. Luckily the little man was rescued by his coach.

  • Comment 13, posted at 13.10.08 14:25:53 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @fyndraai (Comment 12) :

    Apparently the BIG drawcard for the final is the handling skills workshop before the main match with none other than Pierre Spies attending.

    and NOT as an instructor………….. πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 14, posted at 13.10.08 14:27:19 by KSA Shark Β© Reply

    KSA Shark Β©
  • @fyndraai (Comment 13) : Only if you don’t have the dwarf’s consent. πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 15, posted at 13.10.08 14:43:11 by McLovin Reply

  • @KSA Shark Β© (Comment 14) : I tried to keep a close eye on him on Saturday, and it has to be said his defense is not all that hot either. 😐

  • Comment 16, posted at 13.10.08 14:44:36 by McLovin Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 16) : Let’s just call a spade a spade. He’s crap. The only thing he has on Kanko is that he’s a little bit bigger

  • Comment 17, posted at 13.10.08 14:50:24 by robdylan (Go Sharks!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Go Sharks!) (Comment 17) : Certainly over hyped, and not much of a brain it would appear.

    As far as Kanko is concerned it’s a no contest in my view. I’d take Kanko every time.

  • Comment 18, posted at 13.10.08 15:12:19 by McLovin Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 15) : :mrgreen:

  • Comment 19, posted at 13.10.08 17:02:27 by KSA Shark Β© Reply

    KSA Shark Β©
  • Kankowski’s try looked great, but he had some help from the micro-lion, expertly avoiding the tackle situation.

  • Comment 20, posted at 13.10.08 18:57:12 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @fyndraai (Comment 20) : I reckon he’d have gone straight through any tackle Earl Rose had bothered to make. Then again, I’m biased πŸ™‚

  • Comment 21, posted at 13.10.08 20:34:14 by robdylan (Go Sharks!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • We’re in the midst of the most severe global economic and food crisis that most of us will ever see, and just come of a huge S14 season and 6 home test matches… and Gavin Rich is twiddling his thumbs over chips instead of Samoosa’s and semi-final stadiums 85% full…

    He’s a dreamer!

  • Comment 22, posted at 14.10.08 01:56:05 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • @robdylan (Go Sharks!) (Comment 21) :

    No… no… Rose has ZERO defence… Nataniel would have scored from there…

  • Comment 23, posted at 14.10.08 01:57:15 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • @bryce_in_oz (Comment 23) :
    LMAO! πŸ˜†

  • Comment 24, posted at 14.10.08 08:03:29 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @bryce_in_oz (Comment 23) : The thought of Nataniel scoring with anyone has me reaching for the Valoid!

  • Comment 25, posted at 14.10.08 08:18:29 by robdylan (Go Sharks!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Bollocks Richy Rich..this article would not have been written if Province was in he knock-out stages.

  • Comment 26, posted at 14.10.08 08:21:42 by CoffeeShopBok;-) Reply

  • @bryce_in_oz (Comment 23) :

    I did a complete 180 on Rose afer Sat game..my support for him was blinded by my bias..

    He avoided tackling the entire game…at one point for Kankos try he didn’t even bother tackling. πŸ™„

  • Comment 27, posted at 14.10.08 08:24:32 by CoffeeShopBok;-) Reply

  • @CoffeeShopBok;-) (Comment 27) :

    Unfortunately you can’t coach cojones onto a player… the rest of his game could be sublime if so…

  • Comment 28, posted at 14.10.08 08:42:03 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • @CoffeeShopBok;-) (Comment 27) :

    Hey I don’t know if it was your bias hey.

    MOST of us were singing his praises. Unfortunately he let us down when the real Currie Cup came to town.


    He has improved every season since he joined you guys and if he continues on that path……..who knows.


    As bryce says: you can’t coach cojones onto a player. You have them or you don’t. it not something anyone can sommer just decide he wants to have.

  • Comment 29, posted at 14.10.08 09:01:22 by KSA Shark Β© Reply

    KSA Shark Β©
  • If the Currie Cup had lost its shine would it have been sold out 2 weeks before the final – I think not entirely.

  • Comment 30, posted at 14.10.08 09:08:24 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle

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