VIDEO: Save the Currie Cup
Jake White does not profess to have a magic wand, but he is certain about one thing: The Currie Cup must remain one of the world’s most prestigious domestic competitions.
Speaking after his team advanced to the Currie Cup semifinals, finishing top of the standings after a thrilling 39-36 win over the Cheetahs at the weekend, White again expressed his passion for the need to retain the competition’s status as the country’s most sought-after domestic prize.
With the advent of South Africa’s move to Europe, the Currie Cup will run concurrently with the newly-formed United Rugby Championship from January – when the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers are competing with the best from Europe.
The Currie Cup, already labelled a ‘development tournament’, runs the risk of being relegated to a two-bit event.
“I don’t have the answer,” White told @rugby365com, when asked what must be done to avoid the Currie Cup – with a rich history of more than 130 years – losing even more prestige and eminence.
“We must try, as South Africans, to do everything in our power to ensure the Currie Cup stays a prestige competition.
“It would sad for us to water it down [even further] or never take it as seriously as we should.”
He spoke with a passion of the great Springboks of the past that featured in classic Currie Cup games – something that is a rare occasion in the professional era.
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“I remember the quality of those players that played in the Currie Cup and it meant massive amounts to those players,” the Bulls boss said.
“It would be sad if all those memories those former players have of winning the Currie Cup and playing in finals get diminished by the fact that it is not a serious competition.
He reiterated that he doesn’t have a readymade answer about how to avoid a further decline in prestige.
“What I am very serious about is that we have to find a way in a rugby-playing nation like South Africa to ensure the Currie Cup never-ever becomes a watered-down, diminished competition.
“It has always been and will always be very important to lots of people who have been involved in it.”
He admits that the challenges of the COVID-impacted last 18 months mean getting dates and fixtures sorted out is a very complex issue.
“I want to reinforce, as an ‘old-school’ guy, who has been involved in rugby for a long, long time, it would be sad if we don’t find a way to make it a prestigious tournament.”