Currie Cup

Currie Cup 2018 line-ups to get 'Player 23'?

2017-10-20 08:57
Rudolf Straeuli (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - This weekend is Currie Cup semi-final weekend and the decision has been taken for sides to be allowed an extra player on their benches. 

For financial reasons, Currie Cup squads during the regular season are only made up of 22 players. 

It has not gone down well with most of the Currie Cup coaches, but Sport24 understands that the rule is being reviewed and that from next year, Currie Cup squads will be made up of 23 players. 

The exact format of the tournament, though, is still unclear with SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux having strongly suggested at this year's PRO14 launch in Cape Town that the Currie Cup was likely to be shortened going forward. 

In international rugby, Super Rugby and pretty much every first-tier rugby competition around the world, squads are made up of 23 players. 

What this means for Currie Cup coaches is that they generally opt to pick just one prop on their bench as opposed to two. This replacement prop, known as a 'swinger', must be able to cover both loosehead and tighthead and it effectively removes the specialist from a role as a substitute. 

All four of the coaches who have made the semi-finals this year have spoken out about the rule, and they all share the same views. 

"I find 22 a strange development decision," Blue Bulls coach John Mitchell said ahead of his date with the Sharks in Durban. 

"Rugby has been 23 for a long time. We've missed out on a huge opportunity to give another prop 35 minutes each week."

Golden Lions coach Swys de Bruin, ahead of his trip to Newlands on Saturday, confirmed to Johannesburg media that the decision to allow an extra player in the squads for this weekend was down to Lions CEO Rudolf Straeuli, who had personally contacted the other three unions involved in the semi-finals before making the request to SA Rugby. 

De Bruin called it "a positive move" that was "good for the safety of everyone involved". 

Western Province coach John Dobson and Sharks boss Robert du Preez have also been vocal in the past on the '22 players' rule, with Du Preez having said at the beginning of the Currie Cup that he would like to see an extra player added to the squads. 

Currie Cup semi-finals on Saturday:

Sharks v Blue Bulls - 14:30

Western Province v Golden Lions - 17:00

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