Firstly, I’m not writing this to blame anyone or to call for the head of anyone. I’m just hoping we could look at the different brands of rugby being played by the different South African teams, and have an open discussion or opinions on the facts.
There is definitely no lack of talent in the current Sharks squad or a lack of coaching ability in the current team set up.
*If the wrong squad is selected, who do you blame?
*If the players make the wrong decision on the field, who do you blame?
*If they run around on the park like a bunch of headless chickens, who do you blame?
*If they come within 3m of the opponents goal line, and don’t get a try for whatever reason, who do you blame?
We are always quick to give blame to the coach, but in the end these are all professional players, they are the ones who need to make it happen on the field. Like I said I don’t want to look at any specific player or coach, I want to look at the type of rugby that’s being played.
It looks to me that the Sharks are just playing rugby, happy to have a run on the park, walk off after the game and just be happy with the result, the desire to achieve more seems to be absent, the desire to win, the desire to play of brand of winning rugby.
A team that’s been consistently playing a brand of winning rugby is the Blue Bulls; I hate saying this but it is true. If they need to kick 10 penalties in a game to win, they will be happy to do so, call it boring rugby, but what’s more important, to play exiting running from your own goal line rugby or kick 10 penalties in the game to win rugby?
We know the Sharks are also capable of playing a winning brand of rugby, but the hunger and desire to do so seems to be lacking more often.
Another brand of rugby is a disciplined and defensive brand played by the Stormers, with a points difference of only 34 and tries against 7 with only the Bulls conceding 6, it does show the Stormers are more focused on their defence and discipline. There’s nothing wrong with that, that’s maybe why they are top of the South African conference and top of the overall log.
A couple of seasons ago the Sharks also played a defensive brand, waiting for the opponents to make a mistake and then turn it into points.
The Cheetahs are generally the team with nothing to lose, nobody really gives them a change to finish higher then mid table in a good year, so they are just going about doing their business. If they win great if not, well we tried better luck next week, they’ve scored 15 tries and conceding 17 so far.
Then there is the Lions, making it difficult for the South African teams to reach play offs.
Current South African Conference:
|Team||Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||Points F/A||Tries F/A||BP||Points|
|STO||5||5||0||0||125 – 91||8 – 7||0||24|
|BUL||5||3||0||2||170 – 89||19 – 6||4||20|
|SHA||7||3||0||4||161 – 177||17 – 17||5||17|
|CHE||6||2||0||4||168 – 194||15 – 17||4||12|
|LIO||5||1||0||4||107 – 134||7 – 12||2||10|
It’s all interesting reading but would mean nothing if there’s no facts, well let’s have a look.
Bulls have kicked 15 penalties in 5 games with 1 drop goal, 5 of those penalties with the drop goal were against the Sharks to make sure they won the game. Note that the Bulls had two runaway victories against the Reds 61 – 8 (8 tries) and the Cheetahs 51 – 19 (6 tries).
Playing winning rugby means winning the game by which ever means, if the opportunity is there to score tries, make sure you score them, if you have to win by penalties and drop goals make sure you get them to win.
The Stormers have been penalised 45 times and conceded 7 tries. If we look at the others teams, the Sharks have been penalised 72 times, Bulls 65 and Cheetahs 63. And the Stormers also have the second lowest tries against with 7 overall .
To come back to my point of playing winning rugby, the Sharks have the ability to score tries, second highest in our conference and tied 3rd with Highlanders over all. If we can just get the discipline right and that hunger to play that winning rugby the Bulls are playing there will still be enough time to recover from where we are currently and finish strong.
Let’s give Plum and the players the benefit of the doubt, it’s not been the easiest start with only 2 out of the first 7 games being at home and with another away game waiting against the Blues next week, before returning to the beloved Kings Park.
Have faith in Plum and the boys, I have.Tweet