SA’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus defends the integrity of the Currie Cup
SA’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has raced to defend the integrity of the Currie Cup after the standard of play in the tournament was questioned by two former Springbok coaches.
Former Bok mentors Peter de Villiers and Nick Mallett have both voiced disquiet about the tournament‚ saying an opportunity has been missed to improve skills.
With the high-profile Currie Cup semifinals set to be played this weekend‚ SA’s top franchises will be under intense scrutiny.
De Villiers’s concerns have been shared by former Bok coach Mallett and erstwhile SA assistant coach Swys de Bruin.
In the first of the semis at 2pm on Saturday‚ the Bulls face the Lions in Pretoria.
The two winning teams will battle it out in the final on January 30.
Focus will then switch to Newlands in Cape Town for the second semifinal between Western Province and the Sharks at 4.30pm on Saturday.
“The 2020 Carling Currie Cup was certainly an anomaly with the Covid-19 pandemic creating a cloud of uncertainty both in terms of training and the match schedule‚” Erasmus said.
“I would like to thank all the teams for their perseverance and the admirable way in which they responded to these challenges.
“This season tested the coaches‚ players‚ management staff and provincial unions in a variety of ways. Despite this‚ we are preparing for an exciting end to the season when a champion will be crowned.’
“Those who experienced the trials and tribulations of this season first-hand will probably have a true understanding about what the season involved‚” he said.
“The cancellation and postponement of matches‚ players and management being out of action for 16 days after contracting the coronavirus‚ matches in 37ºC heat‚ and team members spending Christmas and New Year away from their families for the first time are only a few of the changes they had to adjust to this year.
“I would like to extend my gratitude to all involved.
“I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the sponsors for putting their name and weight behind one of our flagship tournaments in a year that tested most industries and businesses to the limit, and had a direct impact on their business. Their commitment certainly illustrates their passion for rugby and the Currie Cup.”
De Villiers questioned the standard of play in the Currie Cup.
“The one thing about the Currie Cup that bothers me is the standard of play. We don’t have great skills we could have worked on,” he said.
“This Currie Cup was not what everyone wanted. We just wanted to have better players when we host international teams later in the year. I think we missed the opportunity to do this.”
Mallett felts SA teams are not fulfilling their obligation to entertain fans.
“We have to remember we are in the entertainment business in rugby and we need to entertain people. People are entertained by watching tries being scored through good passing‚ good lines of running‚ timing and good stepping,” he said.
De Bruin‚ who served as the Springboks’ attack coach under Erasmus in 2018‚ agreed.
“In Super Rugby in 2017 and 2018‚ we had 35 minutes of continuing play on average,” he said.
“We aimed for 40. If we got 35 or 36, we were happy. I spoke to one of the analysts and in the Currie Cup they’re hitting 24‚ 25‚ 26 minutes. So out of 80 minutes‚ you see 25 minutes of rugby and that’s a problem.”