Lionel Mapoe? Excellent signing. Yet another shady deal that’s likely to end up going to court? Not quite as good for the Sharks.
There seems to be a fair bit of mud that’s being thrown at the Sharks recently and if you have the stomach to trawl through the comments sections of less partisan sites than this one, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the KZN side is about the most hated entity that exists on the local rugby scene. The sort of “I support XXXX and whoever plays against the Sharks” sentiment seems pretty rife at the moment and growing and that’s not really a great place to be in for the Sharks and their fans.
Allegations of player poaching have, of course, always been there and the Sharks, whether fairly or not, tend to get painted far more liberally with that brush than do other teams who are probably just as guilty (or innocent, since it’s a professional game now and everyone should really just grow up!). What does leave a pretty sour taste, though, is the Sharks apparent penchant for signing players who are already contracted to another union (whether validly or not) and then engaging in protracted legal battles to get their existing contracts overturned. It may be technically right and legal, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be much in the spirit of this game, now does it?
It’s easy to say that the Sharks’ bad reputation is a result of their own success – at least in marketing terms – and mostly fuelled by petty jealousy, but recent results make that a pretty tough position to justify. People don’t really envy or fear the Sharks anymore, which is a pretty sad situation given our “Team of the Nineties” billing. I guess the Nineties were a hell of a long time ago, though and perhaps i’s time for the Union to find some sort of fresh way to reinvent itself and break away from some of the negativity and poor public perception that has settled on the team and administration over the last few years.
Would it be too much to expect that the Sharks could take the lead in implementing something resembling “ethical contracting” policies in SA rugby? Or do the Bulls already have that differentiator sewn up too?Tweet