One of the most revered competitions in the world, South Africa’s premier domestic championship is set for a shocking change.
Steeped in history and tradition, the Currie Cup dates back to 1891.
It was, until recently, regarded as the cornerstone of South Africa’s rugby heritage and the coveted gold trophy was one of the most prestigious prizes in domestic rugby anywhere in the world.
However, the proposed – and reportedly the preferred – format that will be decided on at a SARU council meeting on Friday will rock the game to its core.
According to rugby365 , the final nail in the demise of the already badly adulterated Currie Cup will be hammered in on Friday.
The 2018 version of the competition will be reduced to a shortened, single-round format with seven teams in the Premier Division.
After the 2017 version (a seven-team double round) was spoiled by overlapping with the Super Rugby play-offs, it became very entertaining in the latter rounds – especially the play-offs – when a sprinkling of Springboks returned to the competition.
Sadly, the proposed (preferred) version that is on the cards for 2018 will be a smaller competition than the Varsity Cup.
Teams will only play three home games the entire season – which will have an effect on the offering to the public and season ticket holders.
Once the bedrock of South African rugby and continuing to provide a pathway for Springboks, it will become nothing more than a tack-on in the domestic season.
It appears to be an unwanted ‘necessity’, rather than the valuable asset it can still be.
It appears to be in the narrow interests of a few provincial unions.
Top of this list is the Cheetahs, who are miffed at their chances of winning the competition bring eroded due to their Pro14 participation.
Arguably the best format is a six-team competition, played over a double round – with a proper promotion-relegation system to afford any of the First Division teams a fair chance to return to the top flight.
Should the seven-team single-round format be pushed through on Friday, it could be the tragic end of one of the game’s most revered competitions.