Currie Cup

Currie Cup still has a kick

2012-08-12 10:36
Currie Cup (File)
Cape Town - The Currie Cup is like the boxer who takes a terrible pounding but, fuelled by astonishing levels of pride, simply refuses to crash to the canvas.

Why, we may have seen just enough quality in the first round of the compressed, increasingly marginalised 2012 competition to suggest that the grand old dame of the domestic landscape doesn’t even require putting out of her misery.

They have fiddled with its format many times before, of course, but with Super Rugby rudely monopolising the southern hemisphere rugby calendar to unprecedented levels this year, plenty of observers could have been forgiven for suggesting that our once premier event outside of Tests was now threatened to the point of near-extinction.

Based on evidence from the first weekend, it would be premature to say that reports of the Currie Cup’s death are greatly exaggerated - notably poor gates at all three fixtures will ring certain alarm bells - but the situation also isn’t quite as critical, perhaps, as pessimists assume.

It was always likely that the opening few weeks, coming so soon after a uniquely long-lasting Super Rugby season, a volley of June Test matches and with many hard-pressed consumers also splashing out hefty amounts for tickets to the imminent, maiden Castle Rugby Championship, would not have the turnstiles working overtime.

Also to consider is that some decent provincial players who are not in the Springbok camp at present are still nursing bumps from Super Rugby and will enhance the Currie Cup fairly shortly.

The late-winter weather nationwide has been pretty frigid, which hardly helps the quest to drag fans from the comfort of their television rooms - the Mother City, for instance, experienced one of its wildest days of the entire year on Saturday in the lead-up to and then during the headline game featuring two franchises (Western Province and the Sharks) who had locked horns only two weeks earlier in a Super Rugby semi-final with greatly superior personnel on paper.

But to the credit of the latest, mostly humbler combatants, swathes of empty seats don’t automatically translate into sub-standard fare and the brave souls who did turn out saw a fluid and exciting game, despite the slippery conditions, which the Sharks sneaked 25-23.

With only the top six provincial unions in the country now taking part, one plus is that there are unlikely to be many mismatches this year, and away wins will often be like gold, so Jean Deysel and company will be chuffed to have edged a battle where they played second fiddle territorially and at the set-piece for long passages.

This was far from the pick-me-up the long-suffering Newlands public would have wanted after the disappointment of topping the SA Super Rugby conference but falling at a late hurdle once again - but they would also have banked a morsel of satisfaction that here, Province played with more verve at times than had been witnessed in a host of tedious home matches in the broader SANZAR competition this year.

They lost this one more because of the Sharks’ praiseworthy opportunism (and in one case a really sparkling counter-attack) than because of any special bluntness to their own attacking department.

Meanwhile in the earlier Saturday game, it was perhaps significant that defending champions the Lions, fielding a side probably the least altered at this stage from its Super Rugby one, impressively saw off the Cheetahs 43-20 at Coca-Cola Park to signal their retention aspirations with a bonus point into the bargain.

There will already be a nice little edge to things, whether the Durban public pitch up in good numbers or not, when the Sharks host the Lions in the keynote match next weekend, minutes after the Boks have played Argentina at Newlands in their first match of the new four-nation competition.

It is a mini repeat of last season’s Currie Cup final, and also comes only a few weeks after the Lions upset the eventual losing Super Rugby finalists in a conference clash in Johannesburg.

On Friday night, the Cheetahs will be under some pressure to get into winning mode when the Blue Bulls visit Bloemfontein on the back of a satisfactory first-up victory over Griquas at Loftus.

They were held to a two-tries-all situation by the gritty men from Kimberley, who were right in it at the hour mark with the score only 22-20 in the Bulls’ favour, but a positive aspect for the Pretoria outfit was the way they clinically shut out the game in the final quarter.

Whatever cynics may say, the Currie Cup will continue to be, at least for the time being, a competition commanding attention from true connoisseurs of the game in South Africa - as evidenced, for instance, by inspiring tries this weekend from two Baby
Boks finding their feet at first-class level, Raymond Rhule of the Cheetahs and the Sharks’ Paul Jordaan.

Next weekend’s fixtures:


Friday: Cheetahs v Blue Bulls, Bloemfontein 19:10. Saturday: Griquas v Western Province, Kimberley 14:30; Sharks v Lions, Durban 19:15.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    currie cup  |  rugby
NEXT ON SPORT24X

CJ's move to France off?

2014-08-01 20:35

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
49 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
  • SS3
    Fri, 01 Aug 2014 @
    04:00
  • SS4
    Fri, 01 Aug 2014 @
    05:00
  • SS5
    Fri, 01 Aug 2014 @
    05:59
  • SS7
    Fri, 01 Aug 2014 @
    06:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Fixtures
08 August 2014
Eastern Province Kings v Western Province, Port Elizabeth 19:10
09 August 2014
Griquas v Sharks, Kimberley 15:00
Golden Lions v Blue Bulls, Johannesburg 17:05
Pumas v Free State Cheetahs, Nelspruit 19:10
Logs
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Vote

Who will be crowned 2013 Currie Cup champions?

 
 
Featured Blog

Dave ask if you would like to meet your local sports heroes and stand the chance to win prizes to the value of over R40 000.

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

TV schedule Plan your couch time with our searchable sport TV guide

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.