It is shocking to read reports around the web where guys are looking for a fall-guy following the Sharks defeat.
In fact, let me even change this around a bit and start with the paragraph or statement I would normally put at the end of my column.
The Sharks were beaten on Saturday by the better team on the day – fact! Move on.
Before I get to some reports I read let’s just look at the obvious a bit;
• The Sharks were shunted in the tight phases – scrums were okay but not great and line-out’s were an absolute mess.
• The usually solid Sharks defense was disorganized and simply put – chaotic.
• The Sharks backline could not buy a blade of grass across the advantage line – but that is to be expected when first phase possession is crap.
• The Sharks were beaten badly at the breakdowns, with Elsom probably having his best game of rugby ever and my personal man of the match.
Now why do you need to go and look to blame a person, and specifically Epi Taione for the dismal performances of all 15 rugby players?
I have read a couple of times in the paper how the Stormers punched above their weight in this year’s Super 14 which is the reason they did so well, but ran out of gas at the end. Well if this is the case and if I can use a similar analogy then I would say the Sharks were punching at about shin-level this whole competition where they were 3 feet taller than most teams…
Throughout the season I told a lot of my Sharks supporter friends that the Sharks are not playing good rugby, and the implosion will come sooner rather than later – this was before the tour. After the tour I believe some actually started to believe me.
Looking at the season as a whole, I reckon Sharks supporters can be damned glad they reached the semi-final’s, because they surely did not play like a team looking like they are going to win the thing – let alone end up in the last 4. Now this of course does not mean that any supporter should be happy with that! Damn, the Sharks are good enough to win this competition, they simply did not play like it at all during the whole season.
I was a lone Stormers supporter who was bitterly disappointed with how the team’s season ended – with most fellow supporters singing the praises of how well the boys did – compared to last year or the last 3 years – I did not see it that way. It is in the same sense that I can understand, and appreciate the disappointment of Sharks supporters, because we all know they are a better team than the one that was on show this year.
The Sharks had one good game of rugby this entire season, ONE! And if you want to judge a team or players because of a poor semi-final exit then you need to get your head checked. A team that plays one decent game of rugby in 14 does not deserve to even smell a semi.
There are reasons for the poor season and I have my opinions on them, for instance;
• The Sharks suffered much like the Bulls because of World Cup 2008 and the end-of-year tour that followed. Because the Sharks and Bulls made up the majority of the Bok team they were stuck with a bunch of guys who were not only physically drained, but emotionally too and were given no time to recuperate.
• The Sharks lost great players – not only great players, but players in absolutely vital positions including their skipper. I would like for anyone to tell me which positions are more important than hooker and captain, flyhalf and fullback? I can think of one possible position. This meant the Sharks were short on experience going into the competition – no matter how many Springboks they had in their side.
• I was never a fan of the rotation policy used by coaches, and will never be. I believe they got it wrong here. Players, especially the youngsters needed to be managed effectively, especially given their fragile ego’s and states of mind – this was not done properly – and yes I am referring to the likes of Steyn and Pienaar who were both shocking, not only in the semi, but throughout the year.
• Lastly, it is never easy when you know your coach is one his way out, and when this season kicked off, everyone knew Dick was on his way. Players lose a sense of security when the guard is changed, and I reckon not enough is contributed to this fact as having an influence on the Sharks season.
The selections Dick made for the semi was tactically sound before this game kicked off – the thinking behind it made sense – it simply did not pay off on the day – add to this a brilliant, probably their most brilliant of their entire Super rugby history, display of the Waratahs and the reason for the loss is quite simple and logical.
If you want to blame players on the day for a poor performance, I suggest you look at the performances of Bismarck and Ruan. Ruan as the pivot and play-maker was no-where, more disappointing though was his defense – people raised concerns about his defense at 9 and those concerns were viciously exposed at 10. He together with Steyn was defensively poor on the day.
But those are opinions, some which could be debated like adults – to finger one or two players for a season’s disappointments is unfair.
Your team is much better than the one that pitched up from game 1, the worst thing any supporter could do now is to turn against their own players and coach or even ex-coach. Take it from me, they hurt more than any of us can even begin to imagine.
Raise your disappointment with your team – as a supporter you have the right to do so, but also tip your hat and wish them good luck for the future and put away the crosses and rifles for the planned lynching at high noon!Tweet