Guest Writer David van der Merwe shares with SA Sports Blog why he feels a 14 team Currie Cup would be a good idea for SA Rugby.
With so much emphasis on development and player basis expansion (see SARU’s new quota rules for Vodacom Cup), the question is why not a 14 team Currie Cup?
The experts and pundits will tell you it can’t be done due to time factors. They will add that people want to see strength v strength and all that. Well most of the supporters I know keeps on asking for it. That should tell SARU, the Unions and the experts something. In rugby as in all other business it is always wise to listen to your clients/supporter base. If you don’t your numbers will dwindle and eventually you are faced with either closing down or changing.
We are quick to point out how successful the All Blacks are. Yet we are not willing to take a leaf from their book. First and foremost it is high time that the Springbok squad is centrally contracted and that SARU is in charge of these players, not the Unions, but that is a issue for another article. Let’s look at how the NZRU run their 14 team ITM Cup. This format has been in place for the last 3 years. That is since the expansion of Super Rugby to 15 teams.
They still have all 14 teams in one competition but run a Premiership and Championship all as part of one log system. The top 6 teams from last year on the log and the winner of the Championship contest the Premiership with the bottom 7 teams contesting the championship.
Teams play once against the teams in their halve of the log and then face 4 teams from the other halve of the log. All points count towards their log standing. At the end of the round robin stage the top 4 teams in each section plays semi-finals with the winners contesting the final.
the ITM Cup starts this weekend, 17 August and finishes on 25/26 October. They play a week less than South Africa’s Currie Cup. This means more players are exposed to top flight rugby against top competition. It makes the player base stronger. Smaller Unions get to host bigger ones which in turn means more income for them.
Can this work in South Africa? Well until we try it at least for two seasons we will not know. For now we can just be thankful we have a Currie Cup competition unlike Australia who has nothing of the sort.
Follow Dave on @djvanman on twitter