Super15 will force Currie Cup team cull

Sanzar’s plan to expand the Super 14 to a Super 15 in 2011 will more than likely have a knock on effect in the Currie Cup which could see as many as three teams being cut from the Premier Division.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the Southern Kings will not be awarded the 15th team in the Super 15 so there is little hope that the team will survive much longer.

The expanded Super 15 will inevitably lead to the compression of the Currie Cup and, the president of the South African Rugby Union, Oregan Hoskins, has conceded that this would mean the world’s oldest running rugby tournament would be streamlined.

Hoskins is in Australasia in order to watch the Springboks and to meet with SANZAR partners over the future of Super rugby.

Hoskins revealed to Supersport that the SA Rugby plan is to cut the number of teams in the Currie Cup, which means the participation of the likes of the Platinum Leopards, Boland and Griquas is obviously under severe threat.

There is the possibility that the Currie Cup premier division could be played as a franchise competition itself, with teams based in the five major test unions of Durban, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

While that may end up being a blessing in disguise, one of the silliest features of the new “improved” Super 15 is that not everyone will play each other as is currently the case and as occurs in most other reputable competitions.

Because of the conference system, a team could be crowned as champions without, for instance, having played the Bulls or the Crusaders.

“That is true, but then they will play them the following year, it’s all done in cycles,” Hoskins was quick to point out.

What is alarming for South African rugby is that top-class rugby may die in Kimberley, Paarl and Potchefstroom, a natural consequence of the big money the five franchises will have to plunder their resources.

The Super 15 will stretch from the last weekend in February to the first weekend of August. The revamped Super 15 will also feature an expanded finals series and the new 24-week competition guarantees each team a minimum of eight home matches and a 16-match regular season.

A new six-team finals series includes an extra round with two sudden-death qualifiers before the semifinals.

All teams will have a three-week bye while the tournament is suspended during the June international test window, while the Tri-Nations series has also been given a new time slot in the calendar to run at the conclusion of the Super 15.

It should be noted that while everyone gets three weeks off in June each country’s top players will be in action for their national teams and it’s likely that they will they will participate in the expanded play offs before taking on the TriNations which SANZAR are said to be considering expanding to a Four Nations from 2012.

Top players could be forced to play just under 40 matches a year but this was ignored as the suggested number of matches a player should play in order to be at their peak is around 26 a year.

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