‘New Currie Cup format has positives and negatives’


The Currie Cup now includes a qualifying stage that has absorbed all the teams from the scrapped Vodacom Cup, to bring the competition’s team tally to 15, including one from Namibia.

“On the negative side, the new format could confuse the rugby-watching public and be seen to be devaluing the Currie Cup,” Dobson told the Stormers online magazine.

“The positive aspect for Western Province is that we have an opportunity to experiment with different combinations and strategies.”

WP, the Blue Bulls, Sharks, Golden Lions, Free State Cheetahs and Eastern Province Kings already have their spots in the Premier Division – effectively the final round of the revamped Currie Cup – secured.

The nine other teams will have to battle it out for the three remaining open spots in the Premier Division, while the six bigger unions have the luxury of using the early stages of the tournament to test out different combinations and game plans.

“It’s a curious format but it’s going to motivate us because we know that if we’re coming up against a team like Griquas they’re going all out to win so we need to be prepared,” said Dobson.

“Some of the players are from Super Rugby while others were at the Varsity Cup and we also had non-contracted players from club rugby all in the same training squad,” he said before the start of the campaign.

“With so many unfamiliar players we did team-building exercises to bring the guys together.

“Now we’re working hard on rugby training. We’ve started line-out contesting and scrums but there is a lot of pressure to get everything ready for the early start.”

According to Dobson, the focus was on all-out attacking skills during the team’s preparations at the pre-tournament camp in Hermanus. WP wants to mount more of a challenge against the attack of the Golden Lions who went undefeated last season and scored 60 tries – 17 more than WP.

“The Golden Lions were by far the most attacking team and we agree with that type of rugby but we have our own nuances that will differentiate us,” said Dobson.

“The rugby that South Africans were playing seven years ago worked at the time. The Springboks beat the All Blacks three times in a row during the 2009 Tri-Nations.

“But the laws have changed and that type of rugby is less effective. The game rewards teams that have both backs and forwards who can offload and pass the ball.

“We’re going to be focusing on skills in offloading the ball, keeping the ball off the ground and to be more exciting.”

Another challenge the six big Currie Cup unions face is player depth, as they have to assist their Super Rugby sides by making players available in case of injury.

“We are used to players moving from the Vodacom Cup to the Stormers but this is tougher because we have a smaller squad and the Currie Cup is a more prestigious competition,” said Dobson.

African News Agency

Original source: ‘New Currie Cup format has positives and negatives’