Saru has again invited the Southern Spears to play in an eight-team Absa Currie Cup this year.
The SA Rugby board on Tuesday decided to keep the current Currie Cup format that sees the big five unions, the Spears and two qualifiers from the Vodacom Cup competing in the Premier Division.
On this basis, Griquas won’t play Currie Cup rugby this year. The Kimberley side was forced to release several key players to the Cheetahs for the Vodacom Super 14, and haven’t performed well in the Vodacom Cup as a result. Griquas are also without players who are currently overseas, but had planned to return for the Currie Cup. They now plan to take Saru to court.
However, the Spears have been given a golden opportunity to build themselves into a team worthy of Super 14 participation.
“As we retain the format, we expect the Southern Spears to participate so as to help their side prepare themselves for bigger leagues,” said SA Rugby board chairman Mpumelelo Tshume.
SWD, EP and Border will meet on Saturday to decide whether the Spears will accept the invitation to play in the Currie Cup, a decision that should be a formality considering the Eagles, Elephants and Bulldogs are rooted to the bottom of the Vodacom Cup log.
The board also confirmed that PE will stage their Springbok Test match against Scotland in June after fears that financial problems at the EPRFU would see it given to Bloemfontein. Rustenburg will also keep its Tri-Nations Test match against the All Blacks.
Finally, the board announced that it will take steps to rectify shortcomings in SA’s Super 14 sides, as results on the field were “far below expectation”.
“Clearly our sides have not reached the expected level of play in the Super series,” said Tshume. “The performance has generally been far below expectation. Something is wrong – and it is our duty as SA Rugby to take the necessary steps to make sure this does not happen again.”
Practical steps will be announced shortly, with a group of experts taking charge of a remedial programme.
By Simon Borchardt