Absa Currie Cup semi-finals are nothing more than a money-making scam.
Before the re-introduction of all 14 provinces, the Currie Cup was contested by six teams, with the top two going through to the final. With teams playing each other on a home and away basis the system ensured that the best two reached the final. Everyone felt sorry for the province that finished third, but accepted they just weren’t good enough.
However, these days it’s possible for a team to lose four matches, possibly five, and still reach the play-offs, where anything can happen. Do the Sharks and Bulls deserve to play in the final this year when they’ve already lost four matches? What about the Lions, who despite their revival, have lost five?
Semi-finals only make sense in a tournament like the Super 14, where 10 teams miss out of the play-offs (71%), or the 12-team English Premiership, where eight teams don’t make the cut (66%).
In the Currie Cup Premier Division half the field gets a crack at the trophy in the last two weeks. To add to the farce, only one of the big five unions misses out.
The situation is more bizarre in the Currie Cup First Division, where four out of six teams go through to the semis (only 33% miss out). This season, the EP Elephants have qualified for the semis, despite losing six out of nine matches. How will Boland feel (who have lost just once) if the Elephants go on to win the competition?
SuperSport may need semi-finals to boost their ratings and the major unions may want them to bring in additional revenue (presuming they host one), but the South African rugby public definitely doesn’t.
By Simon Borchardt