This weekend, South Africa's longest running competition, the Currie Cup will reach its conclusion with a final being played on Saturday 25 June at 15:00 in Kimberly. The game has some great sentimental value as the Griquas will host the Pumas at Tafel Lager Park in a final between two of the most deserving franchises in the competition.
The Griquas put on a dominant display last Friday to topple the Bulls 30 - 19 ensuring them a spot in the final. It was a great achievement for a franchise that suffers a massive player exodus at the end of every season, when the bigger and richer Unions come to snatch up their players. The same can be said for the other side in the final, the Pumas who suffer the same fate every year. The fact that these two sides are in the final is great for the country's rugby and great for the Currie Cup too.
This didn't seem to sit well with Blue Bulls Currie Cup coach, Gert Smal, who decided to share his 'Smal' opinion post match.
"If we devalue the Currie Cup and don’t respect the times and don’t play our best players there, then we must rather put the Currie Cup in a glass box in a museum or something and just call it the Vodacom Cup or something else, if that’s the case."
Smal's comments are far out of line for a coach at one of our most resourced Unions and shouldn't be taken as anything more than the comments of a sore loser. Smal took it one step further though and he has no right to complain about this, that's for sure:
“If it’s getting devalued in a certain way then one must look at it, but that’s not my problem, that’s not my job, that’s for people up there to make the decisions. You can see what happened to all the bigger provinces – there’s just not enough depth.”
How a Union like the Blue Bulls can complain about depth problems is astounding really. The Griquas and Pumas get up each and every year after being pillaged by the Bulls and others. They don't complain, they pitch up and fight for their spot in the competition. If anyone was allowed to complain about depth problems Jimmy Stonehouse would be the front runner. But he doesn't because has has decorum. Smal should be called out for his losing tantrum and we at Rugby Punt-it are doing just that with this article.
Stonehouse rightly said, had the Bulls made the final, it would have been all about bragging rights in that they had made it into two finals (URC & Currie Cup). Instead of complimenting his opponents on their win and showing the values that our sport embodies, Smal made a fool of both himself and the structures at the Bulls.
The Puma's are set to lose 10 players after this weekend's final, but you don't see them complaining. They have a job to do and they are getting on with it. I hate to imagine how Smal will complain next year, when the Bulls are doing duty in the URC, Champions Cup and the Currie Cup. Someone should sponsor him boxes of tissues ahead of time.
For now, lets celebrate the Currie Cup Final and the fact that two "smaller" unions have managed to topple the big boys and make their way to the top of the only competition SA Rugby has on offer for them. Jimmy Stonehouse and Pieter Bergh, you guys deserve this for all the hard work you have put in, don't let a Smal opinion cast a shadow over this great achievement.