Strong Currie Cup needed to help save SA rugby, says former Bok skipper

Former Springboks captain's Wynand Claassen, Warren Whiteley and Antonie Claassen (Wynand's son) at World of Rugby on June 18, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Zoe-Lee Botma/Gallo Images)

Even if the corona-suspended Super Rugby campaign returns in some form, faltering interest means it can’t keep the game alive on its own.

National rugby bosses have little option but to look to restore the Currie Cup as a means of keeping the sport alive in the country, former Springbok captain Wynand Claassen believes.

With South Africa being placed on a 21-day lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, the earliest return to action has been pencilled in for the end of April.

“We have seen the decline of interest in Super Rugby in any case, with crowd attendances dropping drastically and not everybody playing everybody,” said Claassen, who captained the Boks on the controversial 1981 tour of New Zealand.

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“The Currie Cup should be restored to its former glory with strength versus strength derby matches which used to bring in massive crowds.”

Claassen said his son, Antonie, who has made six appearances for France since 2013 on the flank, was one of many SA citizens stranded abroad.

“Antonie is still playing for Racing 92 but like everyone over there he has been in quarantine for some time now and all that he can do at the moment is sit the time out,” he said.

Claassen also revealed that he had already felt the brunt of the financial turmoil the virus was causing.

“Me and wife have been operating a guest house for several years in Pretoria but just recently we had about 70 cancellations and at
the moment the B&B stands completely empty, so it’s been tough,” he said.

“Fortunately I am an architect by profession and the draughting of papers as well as my oil painting keeps me quite busy.”

With off the field issues taking precedence, Claassen lashed out at his compatriots who had resorted to panic shopping following the emergency procedures put in place by the government.

“I think it’s completely unnecessary. As the president said, there will be enough foodstuff available in these awkward times, but still people went crazy. It’s ridiculous really,” he said.

“At a time when we need to stay calm people do the opposite and panic. Yes, it’s vital to look after your own safety and distance, but as President Ramaphosa stressed, we shouldn’t panic.”

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