Pumas boss takes aim at Gert Smal
REACTION: Bulls coach Gert Smal’s criticism of the Currie Cup competition did not sit well with the outspoken Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse.
Speaking after the Pumas’ 38-35 Currie Cup semifinal win over Cheetahs on Saturday, Stonehouse said he is saddened by Smal’s rant.
Smal stated that the Currie Cup should be put in a museum in the wake of the Bulls’ 19-30 semifinal defeat to Griquas on Friday.
Smal further suggested the tournament is at risk of losing its prestige and stature as the trophy is not being given the respect it deserves.
He conceded that South Africa’s premier domestic competition is being ‘devalued’ by the top players being used for the United Rugby Championship and the Currie Cup team feeding off scraps.
However, Stonehouse believed Smal’s critique levelled at the competition is not justified.
“There is a very sad thing that I read in the media where Gert Smal said the Currie Cup belongs in a museum,” Stonehouse said, adding: “If the Bulls would have won on Friday, it would have been they are a great Union and have a great squad and are in two Finals.
“Furthermore, when they played the previous games with loads of URC guys nobody complained.”
#REACTION: @BlueBullsRugby boss Gert Smal far from happy after @TheCurrieCup defeat to @GriquasRugby
🗣️ ‘They must organise a Cup [competition] for the Cheetahs, Griquas and the Pumas.” #rugby #news #BULvGRI https://t.co/W3n2ANfOEx
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) June 18, 2022
Stonehouse added that even missing some URC players, the Bulls team still managed to field a valuable team.
“I do understand the teams like Lions [Sharks, Bulls and Western Province] have to play two tournaments,” Stonehouse said.
“But even the Bulls team that played against the Griquas on Friday cost more than the Griquas.
“I think what the Griqaus brought this season was just amazing to see – especially with a bunch of new Varsity Cup players.”
What South African Rugby needs
The Griquas and Pumas will face each other next week in the Currie Cup Final.
It is a very impressive achievement for two teams, who are considered the smaller unions in South Africa.
Griquas concluded the Currie Cup round-robin matches third, while the Pumas were fourth in the log.
The Pumas have never won the competition, while the Griquas have won it three times and last played in a Final in 1970.
“There is a big rivalry between Griquas and us and for rugby in South Africa, this is one of the best things that could have happened,” Stonehouse said.
“I think we are losing 10 players at the end of the season and Griquas will lose players to the URC teams.
“So if we had millions to buy players, we would win it because there are a lot of players in those [URC] Unions who don’t get a chance to play.
“But as I said, the Final in Kimberley is going to be great.
“We owe them one and we are looking forward to it.”
— Carling Currie Cup (@TheCurrieCup) June 19, 2022