We are the champions, my friends!
Well guys and gals, I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty bloody good this morning. This hangover has been twelve long years in the making, but as I stood around my braai last night, shivering in the English autumn night and trying desperately to get the substandard charcoal to light, I felt a warmth deep inside that I hadn’t felt for many, many years. My team won the cup and it’s about bloody time!
So, from my side, a huge thank you to everybody involved, starting, of course, with the inimitable John Plumtree; calm in the face of relentless pressure, unflappable and sure in his approach. He showed faith in the team and game plan and it worked. Consistency in selection and realisation that rugby really can be a simple game, if played right, are the real strengths that Plum has brought. Well done, sir! You are our coach and we look forward to you bringing us many more trophies.
To Johann Muller: Cappie, you have taken huge strides this season and proved AGAIN and again what a massive presence you bring to the team. Never one to seek the limelight or to openly advance your claims, you are a quiet, confident, strong leader and it gives me so much pleasure to see your approach vindicated. Well done, Johann, we are all very proud of you.
The Sharks tight five has been monstrous all season. Beast, Deon, Bissie, John, Jannie, Steven (what a game!) Albert – those were the guys that did the job for us last night, but let’s not forget the hard work done by so many others during the course of the season – battling valiantly during the dark times. Robbie Harris, Burra Mthethwa, Craig Burden, Ali Hargreaves, Big Nik Blignaut and (probably most of all) Skip Badenhorst: this cup is yours too. What a team, what a tight five and what a final scrum! It brings tears to my eyes all over again, just thinking about it.
Our unsung loose-forward heroes played their part too. JB and Keegan were there all the way through, with the unstoppable Wolla Deysel and the sublime Kanko adding so much impetus in an amazing unbeaten run of ten games at the end. Nic Strauss and Skollie Ndlovu played their part as well, but Keegan in particular is the one guy without whom we wouldn’t have been in the final in the first place. Moments of game-breaking individual brilliance against first the Lions, then the Bulls, turned the tide of games that we looked sure to lose.
Ruan Pienaar and Fred Michalak just showed yesterday what true match-winners they are. Rory Kockott beat Province on his own in the first game and let’s not forget the efforts of Andy Borgen, Monty Dumond, Scott Mathie, Charl Mcleod and Brad Barritt, all of whom took up the challenge of directing the backline at some stage during the season.
Frans Steyn and Adi Jacobs, our midfield maestros, ensured that there was just no way through for the Bulls yesterday and the former, in particular, has silenced virtually all his critics in the last few weeks. What a man he is turning into. Waylon Murray is ever dependable and let’s not forget the quiet workhorse Andries Struass, or the exciting young Riaan Swanepoel, who have also played their part. I don’t have the words now to properly thank Brad Barritt for what he has done, because the fact that he has played his last game really breaks my heart.
Stefan Terblanche was the rock upon which last night’s triumph was built, while Odwa and JP are so dependable and so dangerous – I just can’t think of a better pair of wingers. Well done too to Chris Jordaan, Wes Bodmer, Henno Mentz and Lwazi Mvovo, who really put their hands up and saw us through some dark times. Congrats to you all – you are all true heroes.
Well done to the Sharks administrators as well, from BJ van Zyl and Rudi Straueli down to the assistant coaches, Bashie and Shaun, working together with a backroom cast of thousands. Well done to Michael Marnewick too – long-suffering überfan and cheerleader extraordinaire. The Sharks website is the best in the land by a long margin and the support and encouragement it provides to fan and team alike is unwavering and vital.
And well done to all of you… all of us! We have stood by this team through thick and thin and we have finally been vindicated for that. Sharks fans – we are simply the best and our team has the Currie Cup. May our voices echo long into the night and never be silenced.