Pumas - za

Pumas coach against Currie Cup format change





Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse is against a proposed reduction in the Currie Cup format from eight teams to six after his team’s narrow 31-27 defeat to the Golden Lions in Johannesburg on Friday.

If the SA Rugby Union (Saru) decides on changing the format, the Mpumalanga team could lose their place in the premier division of the Currie Cup.

Stonehouse made his own proposal in favour of keeping the Currie Cup an eight-team competition.

“I don’t say we should change it to 14 teams because you only have 12 Saturday’s available,” said Stonehouse.

He suggested that Saru should keep it at eight teams with the sides playing each other over seven weeks.

The teams are then divided into an A and B section, he said, with the teams finishing in first, third and fifth-place playing each other while second, fourth, sixth and eight-placed teams play for a semi-final spot.

The play-offs would be played over three weeks with the remaining two weeks set aside for the semi-finals and final.

He said the two teams that finish third and fourth in their respective sections then play each other with the two losing teams moving onto promotion/relegation matches at the end of the season.

Stonehouse also said the system was flawed in terms of the way talent was distributed in the country.

“If the Super 15 becomes a Super 16 then the franchises will get a Super Rugby and Currie Cup squad which would lead to the smaller unions losing more guys,” he said.

“If you make the unions bigger at the bottom and smaller at the top you lose more rugby development.” He said the bigger unions already contracted most of the talented Craven-week players while players who did not make it into their junior provincial sides and weren’t in good schools fell through the cracks.

“Fifteen years back all the guys that played Craven-week did not necessarily become Springboks, they played club rugby, and out of that and the universities they became provincial players,” said Stonehouse.

The coach said the big unions also had the edge over the smaller unions such as the Pumas and Leopards who did not have the funds to contract the top young talent in the country.

“Over the four or five years they’ve been contracted at the same union they know each other and have a head-start over any other small union,” he said.

Stonehouse said with most of the Springbok and Super Rugby players out of the Currie Cup the playing-field has levelled out.

“The biggest thing that makes it fairer, against the bigger unions that lost 12 or 16 players, is that those guys who are left are not used to the same Super Rugby tempo,” said Stonehouse.

“It has to be easier with the Springboks out but they still have the depth.”

He said funds allocated to the unions should be distributed equally which would see the rugby talent spread over the country.

Stonehouse said despite these difficulties they have set their eyes on finishing sixth in the competition as that would mean they would not be affected by the proposed structural changes to the competition.

“Last year we struggled in the first five or six matches to adapt to the tempo and this year we said that we must get points out of the first four games,” he said.

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