'The pandemic has taken us back in time': Currie Cup gets its prestige back

13 August 2020 - 15:29 By Liam Del Carme
The Cell C Sharks celebrate after winning the 2018 Currie Cup.
The Cell C Sharks celebrate after winning the 2018 Currie Cup.
Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

A double round with the initial inclusion of the Springboks will help restore some of the prestige the Currie Cup has lost over the last few decades.

The Currie Cup‚ the oldest domestic competition in the world is scheduled to kick off‚ subject to government approval‚ in mid-September and if it does it is likely to be elevated in the estimation of the rugby-loving public.

With no other senior competition likely on the domestic scene the Currie Cup is set to generate much interest. Playing it over a double round with eight combatants‚ along with Springbok participation‚ will lend it long lost integrity.

The competition is supposed to give the Springboks much needed game time before they are scheduled to tackle Australia and Argentina‚ as well as hosts New Zealand‚ in the Rugby Championship in October.

That in itself will have more sets of eyes fixed on the Currie Cup but it hasn’t been like that for a while.

Since the advent in Super Rugby in 1996‚ the Currie Cup’s blip dimmed on the local rugby radar but increasingly we are being reminded of its provenance.

Former Western Province loose forward and assistant coach Jerome Paarwater is in no doubt the competition will get some of its gloss back.

“Especially in the first round where the Springboks are supposed to be available‚” said Paarwater.

“It will be interesting. I’d say it is about time that the Currie Cup gets some of its prestige back. People tend to forget about the Currie Cup up until it gets to the semifinal and final.”

With the Covid-19 pandemic having wreaked havoc with the local season the Currie Cup is likely to be the only senior rugby to get the green light following Super Rugby’s suspension in mid-March. Paarwater‚ a tough-as-teak former flank and No.8 in his pomp‚ believes the pandemic has had people re-evaluate what is important.

“I think the pandemic has taken us back in time a little bit. People are starting to plant vegetables again‚ they make fires to cook and stay warm and generally they are trying to live a little healthier.

“Rugby is also going back to where we were‚ maybe 20‚ 25 years to when I played in the Currie Cup.”

For the competition to kick off in mid-September‚ however‚ the government will need to give SA Rugby approval for full contact training to resume. Amid the anticipation‚ the clock is ticking.

Listen to what Geoffrey Toyana had to say about being passed over: