A year ago Allister Coetzee described the Currie Cup as a development tournament. Now, after his team won it in 2012, he believes it is more coveted a trophy in South Africa than Super Rugby.
Crazy talk from the Stormers and Western Province Director of Rugby and head coach.
But he’s not alone.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske, when asked by the Independent’s Jacques van der Westhuyzen, which of the two trophies he – and his team coveted the most – also said the Currie Cup remains tops.
It must be public relations talk because there is no comparison between the two competitions, in terms of quality. There is also no comparison between the Currie Cup these days and the great competition that was the yardstick of excellence in South Africa.
The Currie Cup, when all the best players in South Africa, participated in the competition, had a rightful prestige and standing. Now it is a glorified Vodacom Cup until the semi-final and finals because the 30 current Springbok squad members don’t participate.
The Currie Cup also creates an illusion among teams of a strength that is always shown up in Super Rugby. Think the Lions, think Western Province (in the guise of the Stormers).
Coetzee, who a year ago, was very much of the view that he used the Currie Cup as a feeder to building a title-winning Super Rugby team, has changed his view since he won the Currie Cup and again failed to win the Super Rugby title.
The Currie Cup has to be seen for what it is – a development tournament.
It makes South Africans feel good about themselves because there isn’t a New Zealand or Australian team to deal with. There isn’t the travel of 12 000 miles and there invariably isn’t the prospect of constant defeats.
‘Absolutely … We have won two Super Rugby Conference titles but winning the Currie Cup last season was massive for us and the fans. It’s still a top notch competition that everyone wants to win,’ said Coetzee in response to whether the Currie Cup was still the most coveted of silverware in South Africa.’
Drotske to Van der Westhuyzen: ‘The Currie Cup is still top of the list. There is just so much tradition. It’s all the rugby the fans had in isolation and they know what the prestige is behind the competition and, with the Boks coming back for the play-offs, it remains the competition everyone wants to win.’
What do you think you?