Currie Cup

Dobson: New Currie Cup format remains 'frustrating'

2018-09-17 09:22
John Dobson (Gallo)
John Dobson (Gallo)

Cape Town - The jury, it seems, is still out on the new, shortened Currie Cup format. 

Seven teams, one round of round-robin fixtures and then straight into semi-finals and the final: that is the direction the 2018 edition of the tournament has taken. 

There is no doubt that it makes for some intense meetings that have a lot riding on them, but what is the overall feeling on the new format?

Never one to hold back, Western Province coach John Dobson provided some valuable insight following his side's impressive 65-38 win over the Golden Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday. 

WP have been superb so far in the competition, winning all three of their fixtures with maximum points while they have scored 21 tries along the way. 

They are already at the half-way stage of their season, and if they can get a win over a struggling Griquas side this weekend, as is expected, then they will be one the verge of securing a home semi-final. 

On the surface, things are going well for Dobson and WP so far in 2018, but there are some concerns that come with the new format. 

"I find it frustrating for two reasons," Dobson said in Johannesburg after Saturday's win.

"Firstly, you're under pressure from the start and it could be, like with the Lions, after an off day like today you may not get a home final. The same applies to us.

"In the old days it was nice, and we could lose up here and say, 'don't worry, we'll get you in Cape Town' and vice versa.

"It gives the competition more integrity. To have a Currie Cup that is shorter than a Varsity Cup is a concern."

The other concern, which Dobson says impacts the bigger unions more, is the fact that fringe players have less time on the field. 

It might explain why SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said at the launch of this year's PRO14 that the plan moving into 2019 was to significantly reduce the number of professionally contracted players in South African rugby.

"For us bigger unions it is tricky. We've all got four or five scrumhalves and you have to win games from the start, so how do I give Paul de Wet, Justin Phillips or Herschel Jantjies enough time in six games where we can't afford to drop a game?" Dobson said.

"So Jano (Vermaak) is starting every game.

"Before, you had a chance to expose more players. Currie Cup had become a developmental competition, but I'm not sure how much you can achieve in six games."

Like with everything, though, there is a counter argument and Dobson acknowledges that interest in this year's competition seems to have intensified.

"I would say, to its credit, there is obviously an interest," he said.

"It's like a mosquito that you can't kill, the Currie Cup. They keep trying to slap it down, but it keeps buzzing. This is going to be a cracking end to the season."


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