Sat 25 Jun 2022 | 10:19

Jimmy Stonehouse: 'The Currie Cup does not belong in a museum'

Jimmy Stonehouse: 'The Currie Cup does not belong in a museum'
Sat 25 Jun 2022 | 10:19
Jimmy Stonehouse: 'The Currie Cup does not belong in a museum'
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REACTION: The atmosphere and celebration following the Pumas’ 26-19 win over Griquas in the Currie Cup Final in Kimberley on Saturday proved the revered trophy will always be a vital part of the South African landscape.

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And Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse made no secret of the fact that it deserves a prominent place in the public domain – NOT in a museum.

The match was the Pumas’ first-ever Final of the prestigious tournament.

In contrast, Griquas’ wait to break their Currie Cup drought – their last win was in 1970 – continues.

The encounter has been a big talking since the Griquas and Pumas secured semifinal wins against the highly favourites the Bulls and Cheetahs.

In the wake of the semifinals, Bulls coach Gert Smal suggested the Currie Cup is being devalued and should be shelved, claiming the trophy would be better off in a museum.

However, it seems like the Final, which was attended by a passionate sell-out crowd 0f almost 11,000, showed how significant this tournament is for the country.

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The Pumas coach, Stonehouse, made his feeling known after the match – although he was careful not to attack Smal over the celebrated Springbok’s emotional outburst a week ago.

“We can only change people’s perception about the Currie Cup on how we play on the field and SA Rugby must really look at it,” Stonehouse told reporters in the wake of the win.

“I have to take my hat off to the Griquas and [their coach] Pieter Bergh. The way they played, it was a great game.

“It is a tournament that gives opportunities to players to join the big unions – as it did for Francois de Klerk, Rosko Specman, Vincent Koch and Uzair Cassiem.

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“The Currie Cup is the lifeline and that is why the Currie Cup does not belong in the museum.”

Stonehouse admitted he does understand why some unions feel like the Currie Cup has lost its value.

However, he said franchises like Bulls, Stormers, Sharks and Lions should plan better instead of complaining.

“When you look at the start of the season, unions made a choice to play United Rugby Championship and Currie Cup.

“We are not a franchise. We really want to be one. We want more money.

“However, they can’t get mad if we can field our full-strength teams and they can’t. They were the ones who voted in favour of the two competitions.

“Furthermore, when the fixtures were released, we all knew that the URC and Currie Cup play-offs were going to clash.”

Stonehouse explained: “If you look at the Bulls team, they played against Ulster and used 13 of those players for the Griquas match, followed by the fixture against Cheetahs. None of the Unions labelled it as unfair.

“So that is the part that does not sit well with me, because I know if Jake White won the URC trophy and Smal played in the Currie Cup Final then it would have been great. They would be a great union that knows how to contract players.

“I think what is so challenging for Smal, is the lack of continuity.

“But they should have thought of using those young players throughout the season.”

“It is easy for me to talk because I won. Maybe if I played against the Bulls I would have lost.”

The Pumas will have a three-week break before they start with their pre-season where they will contest for the Free State Challenge Cup, which includes the Griquas and Cheetahs.

@leezil07
@rugby365com

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