‘Currie Cup a priority’

Saru says an expanded Super Rugby competition won’t shorten South Africa’s Currie Cup competition.

The regional competition is set for a revamp next year with an extra team to be added and the three countries divided into three conferences. The ultimate result is more rugby and it was initially feared this new Super Rugby competition would run into the time allotted for the Currie Cup and thus shorten the latter competition.

After a meeting of the SA Rugby board, chairman Dr Jan Marais said they would back an expansion but only if it makes allowance for South Africa’s domestic competition.

‘This has been a long process with all partners having to compromise in some directions,’ said Marias. ‘We are prepared to extend the Super Rugby competition into July for instance but the integrity of the Absa Currie Cup competition is not something that we can throw away.

‘Major matches in the Currie Cup attract audiences that are larger than the equivalent Super Rugby matches and the tournament is the lifeblood of our 14 provinces.’

Marais said the board wants South Africa to be awarded the new franchise which is currently under construction in South Eastern Cape.

‘It is very important to South African rugby that we secure a Super Rugby franchise for the Eastern Cape and we will be tendering for a sixth team if we reach agreement on future structures,’ said Marais.

The details of South Africa’s position will now be communicated to Australia and New Zealand as part of an on-going series of discussions and workshops in the search for an agreed position.

In an attempt to develop the region, SA Rugby has said that a total of R2 million has been set aside for rugby at grassroots level, although the specific project has not yet been finalised.

‘SA Rugby is putting R1 million of the profits from the tour into the project and other money is being invested into other legacy projects around the country,’ said Dr Marais. ‘Another R1 million is being invested by the British & Irish Lions into the Port Elizabeth project as part of an agreement we reached with government.

‘This was all done amicably and as part of a negotiation around SA Rugby being granted special dispensation to be allowed to play the match between the Coastal XV and the Lions on Youth Day, June 16.’