No really I can’t. How do you describe it when every single feeling known to man flows through your body in a matter of minutes. Desperation, fear, anger, pain, relief, sadness, happiness, elation and maybe even a little confusion. Let me start at the beginning.
It probably started the moment Bryan Habanna flew over a white line under the grasping arms of a desperate JP Pieterson and broke every single heart of Sharks fans at Kings Park. Yes sure, that was more than a year ago, but that moment just kept repeating itself in my head, probably for the past year and a half, but mostly on the morning of the final. I tried to play it down, like most of us did the 2 weeks before the final, but in my heart I knew I could just not take another devastation like that.
The dark clouds looming over the Durban sky threatened to ruin finals day, but when I came to the stadium I was pleasantly surprised, not because people were showing up, I knew nothing would keep anyone away from a final, but rather what pleased me was the very few blue jersey’s I saw, this time we out numbered them by a large number. Almost every Sharks supporter was wearing some form of black, even if it weren’t Sharks wear it built my excitement for the game in a big way.
I sat down in my seat, at exactly the same place I did last year, the under 21 final had 30mins left, Free State against the Blue Bulls, for a second the sight of that blue jersey gave me a flash back, but I wiped it out of my mind and enjoyed the game that was being played. Not my team, no stress, right? The 15 to 20 000 strong crowd that was already there was firmly behind the Free State team and soon I also got into the spirit of screaming for the team that opposed the Bulls. With 10mins to go the Free State team took the lead with a try, but their five point lead soon looked a little thin with a massive onslaught from the Junior Bulls. I heard my mom begging next to me, please don’t let it happen, please not like this. With someone like this next to you, it is hard not to get nervous for the game. Unfortunately for her and for all of us, with the clock already in overtime the Little Bulls went over the line with only a conversion needed for victory. Free State ran up to charge the kick down, but alas the ref sent them back, my mom, my sister and I shared a worried look. What was going on, the Bulls took the game, with Bryan Habanna smiling from the side of the field.
It was a great curtain raiser to get some excitement into the fans, once again when the Bulls came onto the field I was pleased with the relatively small amount of Bulls supporters that were present, Sharks fans could not hold back their resentment and the Bulls team were greeted with a loud jeer from the big crowd. The Sharks team was announced and everyone got to their feet, this was our moment, the cheers kept on going until the ball to start the game was finally dropped to the Bulls. After that the excitement died down and the crowd became tentative.
For the first 15mins of the game, like the crowd, the Sharks players also seemed a little careful, tentative. There was little possession in the half of the Bulls and little if any in their 22, in fact it seemed like the Bulls were the team in command, doing most of the attacking and getting the crowd a little uneasy. With almost 15mins on the clock the Sharks were in a position to attack and seemed to be finding their groove, but tentative as ever they spread the ball wide. It seemed like something was on, still the crowd was careful not to get to excited. Then Habanna snatched a Francois Steyn pass, for a moment it felt like the crowd kept there breath, only for a moment as if time stood still, but time went back to motion and the crowd were on their feet and for the first time screaming their lungs out. It was clear how important it was for every person in the stands and just as clear how determined the players on the field were not to let Bryan Habanna or any of those Bulls players cross the line. It was desperation, but we did it and that brought the crowd and the players to life. We got a penalty and from that line-out we got over the advantage line and Ruan got his try. I might be wrong, but from that moment the Sharks dominated the game and the Bulls never looked like crossing the line once…maybe in the last desperate minutes, but I’m still getting to that.
Seven against Six was not a good margin to have for a big part of the second half and when Steyn’tjie went over that line, I almost started to cry, I saw the tears in my mothers eyes and knew what she was thinking, because I felt it to. We are almost there, it is so close. That was a six point margin and I hate that lead, so when Freddie converted that try my emotions ran amok with me, I jumped the gun and almost thought we had it in the bag, but it was short lived as Morne Steyn slotted a penalty only moments later. A five point margin, I could not take it. The Sharks would have to score again, and with our guys dominating, playing in the Bulls half, I really believed we would do it. Every time we got close to the line, I thought to myself, this is it, this is where we take the game away. I had faith in the guys and was confident all the way until JP and Stefan started a move that got Bismark into a gap, when we didn’t get that try, I started to worry. Too many chances were lost and I wondered if we would get any more. My heart started beating loudly and like me, the crowd started to get a little quiet. With three minutes left the Sharks were still looking for those points that would put the game almost out of reach for the Bulls and then we got a penalty. A very important decision had to be made, I immediately thought that the line out might be the better option, maybe just to not repeat the past. Frans Steyn confidently took the ball, and I heard the desperation in my mom’s voice. “Oh no, why aren’t we kicking it out. Not again.” I ignored my first instinct and that of my mother and just begged Steyn’tjie to make this kick. “Please, Please, Please….”
The next 1 to 2 minutes were the worst minutes of my life, yes sure there might be worse things than losing a rugby game, but I couldn’t think of any. The game got so loose and I thought for sure that the Bulls will break my heart again. Once or twice they had massive open spaces on the outside and I could already see them going through those gaps and over the line. Something went wrong, at the time I didn’t know what, we got a scrum, tears welled up in my eyes. I couldn’t take anymore, but I would have to, the Bulls turned the scrum, they had another chance. My voice broke and I could barely scream anymore, but my screams of desperation still somehow came out and stood out like a sore thumb over the silenced crowd. Johan dragged it out with an injury and then we had to reset the scrum, but if I had to tell you what happened after that I’d have to make it up. Maybe I closed my eyes, in fear of what might happen, but the next thing I saw was Jean Deysel running toward me with the ball in his hand, the crowd went up in frantic screams, but I stood there shocked for a moment before I realized what happened.
What was left of my voice and me let out shrill screams, jumping up and down I embraced my mother and my sister and then suddenly without warning I broke down in tears. I still can not explain the feeling or what exactly went through my mind, but tears just freely flowed down my face. It took me a good 10 to 15 minutes to compose myself. And then I waited for the moment that made everything worth it. The Bulls spoke and their wives and girlfriends spoke, our captain and our awesome coach said some emotional words and then finally after so many ears, but especially for me the past year and a half the Cup was handed to Johan Muller. He took the trophy into his arms and held it for a moment, almost as if he couldn’t believe it himself, then he lifted the trophy above his head and finally I felt elation. The crowd erupted, the Sharks are the Currie Cup Champions of 2008.Tweet