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Ken Borland



Sponsors are also disappointed in Currie Cup losing prestige 0

Posted on August 08, 2022 by Ken

Bulls Currie Cup coach Gert Smal has made clear how disappointed he is in how the once-great competition has been “devalued” and it seems sponsors Carling Black Label are also concerned about the “loss of prestige” in what was once one of the strongest brands in South African rugby.

The Bulls, trying to contend in two tournaments at the same time, made it to the semi-finals with their mix-and-match squads, but eventually the URC had to take priority and they went down 30-19 to Griquas last weekend at Loftus Versfeld.

Smal’s point was that unless the top players in the country are involved, the Currie Cup becomes devalued. And next year it is likely to be even worse because the top five franchises will have an extra European competition to contend with.

Arne Rust, the Carling Black Label Brand Director, told The Citizen the situation with the URC and the Currie Cup taking place concurrently was not ideal.

“It’s been hard to manage and it seems the Currie Cup has lost a bit of prestige. We would love to get that back,” Rust said.

“We would like to see the importance of the Currie Cup heightened rather than it becoming a development tournament.

“We’re not worried there aren’t any Springboks, but we would like the premier local players to take part, we want to see the next generation of Springboks in the Currie Cup.

“The possibility of it becoming an U23 competition is a question we’re not sure about, we want the Currie Cup to be a showcase, to still feature the premier players,” Rust said.

With the European season running from September to June, and with 2023 World Cup arrangements also coming into the reckoning, there is a growing groundswell of opinion that perhaps the Currie Cup should be played at a different time.

With the Springboks usually off-limits for the Currie Cup anyway, there should be a way that SA Rugby can fit the famous event into the second half of the year.

“If SA Rugby can create more daylight for the Currie Cup then that is always good for us,” Rust said. “We are going to have some detailed calendar conversations in future.

“We would like to see the Currie Cup come into its own, it has such a rich heritage and history. We would love it to be more esteemed and prestigious,” Rust said.

With Smal using words such as “sacred” to describe the Currie Cup, and suggesting SA rugby should “rather put the famous trophy away in a glass box or a museum unless they restore its respect”, it is clear there is still a strong emotional connection to the tournament.

*Rugby fans wishing to select their team for the Carling Champions Match against Italy A on July 2 in Gqeberha can still do so by buying a 750ml quart or 500ml can of Black Label and follow the instructions on the pack, or go to carlingblacklabel.co.za or use Facebook Messenger.

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