Griquas and Pumas have improved quality of the Currie Cup, says Cheetahs’ Hawies Fourie

FILE - Free State Cheetahs head coach Hawies Fourie. Photo:Steve Haag Sports

FILE - Free State Cheetahs head coach Hawies Fourie. Photo:Steve Haag Sports

Published Jun 13, 2023


Johannesburg — The emergence of the Pumas and the Griquas as true competitors in the Currie Cup, has only enriched and improved the tournament, according to Free State Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie.

All three sides continue to fight for relevance in the current United Rugby Championship-era, which is dominated by the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers, but while they might not be playing as much rugby as they deserve to, they continue to impress in the premier domestic cup competition.

The defending Currie Cup champions, the Pumas, are once again in the play-offs and will face the Sharks this weekend. The Griquas, meanwhile, might have finished seventh on the log this season but were within a whisker of progressing to the play-offs in a tightly contested race for a Top 4 berth.

The 2022 finalists collected 35 points during the campaign and were only three points short of the fourth-placed Bulls. Like the Cheetahs, the Pumas and Griquas lack consistent, competitive rugby during the year which puts them at a disadvantage.

It is for this reason that Fourie believes Pumas, Griquas and also the promoted Griffons in their first season of the premier competition – deserve only praise.

“The quality in this Currie Cup has been outstanding,” Fourie said on Tuesday.

“We must give credit to the Griquas and the Pumas — four, five years ago, they were teams which would concede 30, 40 points. Now they are teams that can beat anyone on the day.

“That has improved the quality of the tournament for the better.

“The Griffons must also get credit. They were never a punching bag and in every match they fought hard.

“At half-time, in many of their matches, they were still in the mix. They were the new team in the competition, and everyone might have thought they would take big losses, but they stood tall to the man and made sure that the competition remained tough.

“The URC teams — after the end of that competition — brought their players into the Cup, and it improved the standard and intensity. I believe we are in a very good space regarding the Currie Cup.

“The past month’s rugby has been of a high quality.”

Another quality encounter is in the making on Saturday when the Cheetahs host the Bulls in their semi-final at Free State Stadium. Kick-off for the match is 3pm.


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