EP rugby sets sights on top flight
All moving in right direction for Currie Cup, but to get there the missing piece of the tricky puzzle needs to be found, says concerned president Rademan
Something is missing from Eastern Province’s rugby jigsaw and concerned president Andre Rademan is determined to find the missing piece so that he can complete the puzzle.Though they still have some way to go, EP are moving in the right direction after years of boardroom chaos which resulted in poor results on the field.While things have not all gone according to plan for the Elephants in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge, they can look back with satisfaction after wins over the SWD Eagles, Border Bulldogs and Sharks.There was also a fighting display against the powerful Western Province side at Newlands and the chances are good EP can pick up a fourth win in their final game against the Zimbabwe Academy side.“You know we are the only franchise team who play in Super Rugby and PRO14 that is not represented in the Currie Cup Premier Division,” Rademan said.“Getting promoted to the top table is a big goal of mine this season. That is what EP are building towards. We want to play the top teams every week.”At this stage it remains unclear whether the team winning the Currie Cup First Division gain automatic promotion to the top flight.However, on a provisional fixture list released by SA Rugby September 6 and 7 have been pencilled in as dates for Currie Cup promotion-relegation matches.When SA Rugby officials were asked how promotion would work, they said a final decision had yet to made on whether there would be a playoff match or automatic promotion in the competition.The Currie Cup First Division will feature eight teams, with the Argentina XV and Namibia battling it out with defending champions SWD, Boland, Griffons, Falcons, Leopards and Eastern Province.EP manager Thando Manana said the Elephants were building up for the start of the Currie Cup, which kicks off on July 5.“Slowly EP are getting there and building blocks for the Currie Cup,” Manana said.“This is one of the reasons why I have said it is important that EP are allowed to run as a professional set-up.“Now the team are playing for one another so that when we go to the Currie Cup we have laid the proper foundations. EP want to be known as a team who play with passion for the full 80 minutes.“We want this to be a team of opportunity who enjoy the support of all rugby fans in the Eastern Cape.”EP used Southern Kings PRO14 players in the Rugby Challenge and they have plans to contract players for the Currie Cup.It is believed that EP have offered Lubabalo “Giant” Mtyanda a two-month contract to lead the team in the Currie Cup.It has already been decided that Chumani Booi will coach the team in the Currie Cup.The status quo will remain in the Currie Cup Premier Division, with the Blue Bulls, Golden Lions, Sharks, Western Province, Free State Cheetahs, Pumas and Griquas all competing for the title.The competition has been moved to an earlier time slot in the season though, from July 13 to September 7, which means that the Currie Cup Premier Division will not overlap with the Rugby World Cup, Super Rugby or the PRO14."The introduction of the Argentina XV and the return of Namibia to the Currie Cup First Division will add an exciting element to the competition. We have no doubt that it will boost the tournament," SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said."The Argentineans are former Vodacom Cup champions and they have proven in Super Rugby and on the international circuit that they are a force to be reckoned with.“We expect nothing different from them in the Currie Cup First Division and this will add extra excitement to the competition. We are also excited to welcome back Namibia, who have delivered a number of competitive performances in the competition in the past."A win over the Zimbabweans in their final Challenge match will be a good way to signal that EP are on the way back up.