VIDEO: Can Currie Cup regain its prestige?
IN CONVERSATION WITH BRYAN HABANA: The powers that be face some ‘very tough decisions’ about the direction the game is going in.
This is the view of record-breaking, World Cup-winning Springbok Bryan Gary Habana.
Habana, whose 67 tries are the most by any Bok, was asked by @rugby365com if he feels the Currie Cup competition would ever be able to reclaim its enshrinement as one of the world’s foremost domestic competitions.
The once prestigious competition has been watered down to an almost secondary ‘development’ tournament.
The chances of getting Currie Cup back to its prestigious past depends a lot on the timing.
“To get your top players [back] into the Currie Cup and making it more valuable is an issue,” Habana said.
“We have seen the watering down of the Currie Cup over the last 10 to 15 years and [it is] because you see teams play against each other four or five times a year,” he said of the practice of home-and-away games in both Super Rugby and the Currie Cup.
“That north-south rivalry, the fierce competitiveness of the domestic competitions and the Currie Cup, you get weaned off it a little bit.”
He felt we would struggle to get the competition back to its former glory.
“The strength of the Currie Cup is going to be really difficult to try and get back.
“The powers that be needs to take player welfare, as well as the commercial elements, into consideration in making what is a very tough decision.”
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Another tough call that is soon to be made, is whether South African teams should pack their bags, split from their SANZAAR partners and head north.
“The uncertainty surrounding rugby, especially being a contact sport, and how the different countries get back to the game,” he said of how the different nations come out of the COVID-19-enforced lockdown of the last few months.
“I would love to know how the dynamics and mechanisms of the global season would work and where South Africa would even fit in the Northern Hemisphere.
“We have seen mixed reviews about the Cheetahs and Kings playing in the Pro14.”
Habana, born in Johannesburg, was named Bryan Gary Habana after former Manchester United footballers Bryan Robson and Gary Bailey.
Educated at King Edward VII School and Rand Afrikaans University (now known as the University of Johannesburg), he made his Test debut against England at Twickenham on 20 November 2004 – the 21-year-old score a try with his first touch of the ball.
He played the last of his 124 Tests against Italy at Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence, 19 November 2016 – then age 33.
Habana was a member of the 2007 World Cup-winning Bok team and also featured in the 2011 and 2015 World Cup campaigns.