robdylan

Is there really no depth?


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks, Vodacom Cup on 19 May 2010 at 08:57
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The Sharks XV performed way below expectation in losing to the Blue Bulls by 30 points in their Vodacom Cup semi-final a few weeks ago. That result has, in some quarters, been used as a blanket argument against the existence of any quality depth within the Sharks setup.

Never being one to take things at face value, I’ve been doing a fair bit of thinking about this situation, since regular readers will know that I am somewhat of a champion of the overlooked youth within the Sharks structures, despite taking pretty regular criticism for that stance. As yet another round of panic buying looms ahead of this year’s Currie Cup, I remain more convinced than ever that the Sharks’ best chances of resurgence lie in continued investment in the youth structures already in place.

In the run-up to that semi-final, I wrote an article introducing the Sharks XV and if anything, erred on the side of talking up their chances against the Bulls. A number of factors stand out about that side and while I chose to highlight the fact that an astonishing number of those players had come through the Academy system, the statistic I missed was how many of them were playing in their first Vodacom Cup campaign.

The issue here is one of turnover and a lot may have to do with the perception of the Vodacom Cup competition itself. The fact remains, though, that the Bulls somehow manage to retain the core of their B squad over the years, whereas the Sharks typically end up fielding a wholly new lineup in the Vodacom Cup each year. Of the startiing team that the Sharks fielded that day, no fewer than 8 players came straight up from last year’s under 21 team. The entire back division outside of the halfbacks were playing in their first Vodacom Cup. Up front, four of the tight five were in the same position. Only Pat Cilliers, Charl McLeod and Monty Dumond could claim to have regularly played at a level higher than this.

The Bulls had a Springbok hooker in their pack, not to mention Currie Cup regulars like Jaco Engels and Fudge Mabeta. Amongst the backs, Tiger Mangweni and John Mametsa are both hugely experienced, while other such as Francois Brummer and Stephan Dippenaar have been blooded slowly over three years. I don’t have the exact figures, but I’d be very surprised if there we more than two or three players in that team contesting their first Vodacom Cup semi.

My point is that we should not now write off the entire squad that played in the Vodacom Cup and start all over again with a new bunch next year. The Sharks must now look within and give some of these players further development opportunities in the Currie Cup. Good teams aren’t built overnight – just ask the Bulls.



28 Comments

  • Yeah, dont we seem to let our players go overseas all too easlily as well?

  • Comment 1, posted at 19.05.10 09:24:55 by war1 Reply
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    war1Super Rugby player
     
  • There is depth, but it takes time to get these guys to a level where you want them playing in you CC team. Adding one or two of them to the team is fine, but when your changes become more than that, you’re just reverting back to your VC team and we all know they won’t beat the CC teams.

    Give you players a chance to develop their skills in this years CC and prove themselves for next year, but do it gradually. If Plumtree decided to make 4 other changes when he added Lambie to the Sharks starting line-up against the Highlanders, then maybe we would not have seen the same type of confidence and play from him.

    When the guys prove they are ready and only after that can they start getting regular spots in the team. You don’t just go out and make a bunch of changes just for the sake of playing the younger guys. We will already have a new player at fly half (hopefully a young player for the future) it would be really bad to mess with the rest of the positions to much.

    As long as the Sharks don’t buy over-the-hill-holiday-makers, I would be happy if they keep selecting the same guys in the same positions. With the Boks leaving guys will get opportunities anyway.

  • Comment 2, posted at 19.05.10 09:41:32 by Letgo Reply
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  • This article is spot on.
    There is depth, its talented but its still “soft”.
    I think if the Bulls game were to be played again, in better conditions, then we would see a much closer game but still with the Bulls winning. As you pointed out this is really a team just out of age group rugby.

    To put the team and their result against the Bulls into perspective, the Bulls won the Vodacom cup in the last play of the game against the Free Stae side which the Sharks15 had already beaten twice.

    Hopefully, many of these guys will get CC exposure which will be invaluable in getting the match hardness that they need.

  • Comment 3, posted at 19.05.10 10:04:36 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • Rob you have to go back and ask what resources the Sharks have for providing depth, or even quality depth.

    What is the state of their schools rugby, and how many good rugby schools do they have.

    Same for clubs.

    Then how much, and by what means are you re-investing in those resources?

    To me not involved as much as you in the franchise the only reasonable resources I see from the Sharks is their academy, and their chequebook.

    It has been mentioned before, but the Sharks have to latch onto the rage which is Varsity Cup.

    The academy, although very good, need to partner up with educational institutions at school and Varsity level to broaden the resource base.

    All that will be left then, is the management of it.

  • Comment 4, posted at 19.05.10 10:13:09 by Morné Reply
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  • @Salmonoid (Comment 3) :

    The feeder schools in the Bulls system has magnificent competition structures, and partnerships with the BBRU.

    Going into club or Varsity rugby they are battle hardened playing against the best of their relative age-groups week in and week out. At club and Varsity level they are again exposed to high-class competitions with one of the better local club structures around.

    Then comes the VC level only, and from there CC but these boys have been physically and mentally prepared for years before that.

  • Comment 5, posted at 19.05.10 10:16:08 by Morné Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 4) : ‘All that will be left then, is the management of it.’ Here lies the biggest problem IMO

  • Comment 6, posted at 19.05.10 10:17:37 by Pokkel Reply
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  • Morné mentioned the clubs.

    Anybody who watched the Crusaders vs Old Boys game last Saturday will worry about the quality of club players we have.

    I don’t know where those two sides are with regard to their log positions on the club scene, but the rugby they dished up was totally rubbish. Basic mistake followed basic mistake.

    And they’re part of our feeder system?

  • Comment 7, posted at 19.05.10 10:37:00 by rhineshark Reply
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  • A lot of the school boy talent leaves KZN to go to university and particularly universities with good rugby. Just look at Peter Grant. Schooled in KZN, uni in the Cape and picked up by WP. While he isn’t a flashy 10 or necessarily the best 10, he is steady and solid and would have been great for the Sharks.

  • Comment 8, posted at 19.05.10 10:47:54 by lostfish Reply
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  • @lostfish (Comment 8) : I agree, I think the school feeder system in KZN is strong. There are a number of highly competitive school teams with talented players. The problem is that it seems most of them are either overlooked by the sharks academy in favour of talent from elsewhere, or choose to attend Universities in other provinces. The latter factor is especially crucial, as many school leavers want to attend university AND play rugby. In KZN you can attend university, but must then find a club to play rugby for. In other provinces the University IS the rugby club. KZN seriously needs to address the lack of rugby at tertiary academic institutes if it wants to improve its feeder systems. the Academy shouldnt be the only source of young talent.

  • Comment 9, posted at 19.05.10 10:58:58 by Pablo Dinero Reply

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  • @Morné (Comment 5) :
    Yes thats so true, they have the Beeld series for all schools (large, medium and small) so no-one is left out and that competition covers the whole of their feeder area (the old Transvaal) so its not only targeting the Bulls geographical area but areas where kids will aspire to be associated with a winning team.

    On that thought, I read that the majority of season ticket holders at Loftus are Joburg based.

  • Comment 10, posted at 19.05.10 11:13:20 by Salmonoid Reply
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  • @Pablo Dinero (Comment 9) : A lot of the guys who are from the so called “non rugby” schools have to try to go to other so called “rugby schools” to do a post matric to get into the system or leave before and try to get in before matric.

    But there also needs to be transformation at all levels and build up the university level and get a team into the varsity cup.

  • Comment 11, posted at 19.05.10 11:22:38 by lostfish Reply
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  • @lostfish (Comment 11) : I’m might be wrong in my following question but are the varsities in KZN up to standard academically with the Puks, Tuks, Shimlas UJ and Maties to attract the right people? Doesn’t this start with being a strong academic varsity and that also leads to strong rugby varsity? I look at people leaving school and they not sportsmen or women and they still always end up at one of the varsities I mentioned

  • Comment 12, posted at 19.05.10 11:39:46 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 12) : i think it’s more of a rugby culture thing, for example Wits is a very strong varsity academically but they don’t have a strong rugby culture

  • Comment 13, posted at 19.05.10 11:51:47 by war1 Reply
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  • @war1 (Comment 13) : Yes but I’m specifically refering to KZN. Wits and UJ are both strong academically so the sportmen would go to UJ. I live in KZN and I don’t know 1 person that actually attends a KZN varsity.

  • Comment 14, posted at 19.05.10 11:54:17 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 14) : my verdict is it is neither strong enough academically nor does it have a rugby culture

  • Comment 15, posted at 19.05.10 11:57:41 by war1 Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 12) : To be honest I am not sure about the standards in KZN, I traveled after high school and studied overseas.

  • Comment 16, posted at 19.05.10 12:02:30 by lostfish Reply
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  • @war1 (Comment 15) : Ironically, this is not true. According to the “Academic Ranking of World Universities” UKZN is the third best university in South Africa academically speaking behind only UCT and Wits. The problem is rugby culture. UKZN has not had a decent senior rugby side virtually in its history, bar maybe 1 or 2 years in the 1980s. With regards to comment 11, of course players who dont play at so called “rugby schools” need to move to them at one or other stage. This is the case throughout the country (world if you want to consider all sporting codes). Transformation is needed at all levels, but those schools with better facilities and training will always have the advantage. Look at the eastern Cape, the so called breeding ground of talent in SA. Regularly, the best team is Greys, which is hardly a previously disadvantaged school. Likewise Grey college in Bloem, Maritzburg college or Glenwood in KZN and Bishops in the Cape. The problem in KZN is where the talent goes after finishing school. KZN needs to provide more options than just the Academy.

  • Comment 17, posted at 19.05.10 14:56:42 by Pablo Dinero Reply

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  • @Pablo Dinero (Comment 17) : Interesting, thanks

  • Comment 18, posted at 19.05.10 15:03:26 by Pokkel Reply
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  • we also had in the Sharks XV a Springbok in Murray and seasoned S14 campaigner in Ludick. Guys like Strauss is also very experienced.

    Although I do not want to bash all the youngsters. I am disappointed. Also watched the game against Pumas – although won nothing to write home about.

  • Comment 19, posted at 19.05.10 15:11:10 by rekinek Reply
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  • Justin Downey was in the S14 mix last year, Skolile got some game time. I mean it is a Vodacom Cup, what kind of experience do you want the guys to have to shine.
    Somebody like Charl and Monty should be shining.

  • Comment 20, posted at 19.05.10 15:13:49 by rekinek Reply
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  • @Pablo Dinero (Comment 17) :

    It is up to the academy to partner with the university in my view.

    It can only benefit both.

  • Comment 21, posted at 19.05.10 15:24:07 by Morné Reply
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  • apparently Al Hargreaves has been called up to the BaaBaas to play England on the 30th.

  • Comment 22, posted at 19.05.10 15:59:36 by robdylan Reply
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  • @rekinek (Comment 20) : in the mix? He carried tackle bags all tour and sat on the bench once, without ever getting onto the park.

  • Comment 23, posted at 19.05.10 16:01:01 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 23) : so you say that he did not train with them at all, did not pick anything at all :?:
    doubt it.

  • Comment 24, posted at 19.05.10 16:17:17 by rekinek Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 23) : anycase the point I’m trying to make is that the guys were in the system for a while.

    but as said – not my intention to bash all the youngsters. The worrying factor is that their game looked a bit tryless like the big sharks :roll:

  • Comment 25, posted at 19.05.10 16:21:09 by rekinek Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 23) : :cool:

  • Comment 26, posted at 19.05.10 16:22:06 by rekinek Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 21) : I dont necessarily disagree. What is important is that the feeder system into the Sharks age group structures is improved.

  • Comment 27, posted at 19.05.10 16:33:23 by Pablo Dinero Reply

    Pablo DineroCurrie Cup player
     
  • @rekinek (Comment 25) : Indeed. Lets be honest, the sharks have struggled to score tries since 2007. Something is not right, and its not just the talent. The sharks had good backlines and dominant scrums in 2008 and 2009, and yet how many bonus points for 4 tries did the sharks get in either year? Bring back Campo or make an offer to Brenden Venter :razz:

  • Comment 28, posted at 19.05.10 16:37:20 by Pablo Dinero Reply

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