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Win it on the pitch, not in boardroom

Wed, 16 Oct 2013 21:12
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December vote a sideshow best ignored
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The format and size of the Currie Cup competition in 2014 may well head back to the boardroom, but at least two teams want to settle the matter on the pitch.

Griquas, the bottom-placed Currie Cup team, will host the first round of a two-match promotion-relegation series against the First Division champion Pumas in Kimberley on Friday.

The return match is in Nelspruit a week later.

However, both may still feature in the Currie Cup competition next year if the push for a re-vote on the competition's expansion succeeds.

It has been proposed that another special general meeting of the South African Rugby Union be organised for December, where the matter could be tabled again.

The proposal to expand the Currie Cup competition from six teams to eight next year was scuppered at a special general meeting of SARU, held in Johannesburg recently.

Reports suggested that five smaller unions - Boland, Border, SWD, Leopards and Falcons - voted against the proposal and the result (19 for, 10 against) meant the required a 75 percent majority vote was not achieved.

It is believed the minnows went for an all-or-nothing approach - either they are also included (a 14-team competition) or they vote against it.

The faction in favour of an eight-team Currie Cup - which will see the Pumas and Eastern Province Kings join the existing six teams - may well succeed if the December vote goes ahead.

However, Griquas and the Pumas are determined to prove their worth and claim their right to Premier Division status on the playing field - rather than wait for a boardroom decision.

Griquas coach Pote Human and Pumas counterpart Jimmy Stonehouse may be fierce foes on the field, but they agree on one thing: 'This contest should be settled on the pitch.'

Stonehouse said from he outset of the season their goal has been the promotion-relegation games.

"It was very important for us to win the First Division Final [against the EP Kings last week], but our goal has always been to get back into the Currie Cup [competition] and that is what it is all about," Stonehouse told this website, when asked about two games which may well become null and void.

"You can look anywhere in the media, it is all just Currie Cup, in the First Division you mean nothing. We have been aware of that and it has been a big driving force for us to get back in the Currie Cup competition."

He said all the talk of a re-vote in December is a sideshow best ignored.

"We are not paying attention to that [reports of a re-vote], because we want to measure ourselves against a Currie Cup team in terms of where we stand," the Pumas mentor said.

"What if that doesn't happen? Then suddenly you are not properly prepared [for these promotion-relegation matches] and then it helps you nothing.

"Maybe we get to that stage [re-vote] and they retain the six-team format and then it was all for nothing.

"We are certainly not paying any attention to that - we want to win it [promotion] on the field.

"If we can't win it on the field, then we don't belong there anyway. It doesn't help you get promoted and you end up being a punch bag all the time."

Griquas coach Pote Human echoed similar sentiments.

"We can't bargain on that [the competition being enlarged]," he told this website, adding: "We have to play to win."

He said playing the match is a good challenge for the players.

"The Pumas are playing great rugby, they went unbeaten [through the First Division season], while they easily won in the semifinal and the Final.

"They will be determined to prove they belong in the Premier Division - so for us it is a huge challenge and I am looking forward to the game."

Human said they want to survive and win on the field, not the boardroom.

"Those sideshows don't feature [in our build-up]," the Griquas mentor said, adding: "We are focussed on the game on Friday and then from Monday we refocus for the game in Nelspruit the following week."

By Jan de Koning

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