The prevailing feeling about this year’s Currie Cup is that the single-round format has been a success.
There’s been context throughout and it’s been highly entertaining to witness how teams have coped with the pressure of not being able to afford going on a losing streak as it would quickly eliminate them from the playoff race.
That pressing consideration invariably leads to wildly fluctuating results, which is – rightly to a large extent – interpreted as the sign of a competitive tournament.
Adding to the allure of the action is the fact that various teams consistently lost at home this season.
Griquas reserved their best, in fact, for the traditional cauldrons that are Kings Park and Loftus.
The Lions, who finished second on the log, only won one of their home games.
Whether such a spate of losses by home sides can only be attributed to the general competitiveness of the tournament, however, is debatable.
Attendance at this year’s edition has once again been fairly depressing. Not even the initiative to assign comedians to each team as “unofficial match commissioners” has been able to draw crowds.
And you have to wonder whether that doesn’t contribute to the capricious home form of teams.
The South African rugby fraternity tends to still place a lot of emphasis on home advantage. But it’s very much a nostalgic type of argument.
Maybe it’s because provincialism remains reasonably fierce, a product of South Africa’s sporting isolation in the 1970s and ’80s.
Such is the petty nature of some fans that when their team starts underperforming, they’ll start suggesting that professionalism is eroding the pride of players. These guys still adore playing in front of good crowds and showing off their talents.
I certainly would be depressed playing in front of 1,300 people at Ellis Park or Newlands.
It’s maybe time to scale down the Currie Cup in terms of keeping it away from major stadiums.
I’m pretty sure a north-south derby in Ruimsig (where Roodepoort Rugby Club play) will garner a far better vibe than Doornfontein.