So another Super Rugby season has come (and gone, for all intents), and despite the fact that every possible factor worked in our favour, the Sharks have once again, frustratingly, failed to lay their hands on any silverware (excluding the conference trophy, which right-minded people everywhere – excluding the folks down in the Cape, obviously – see as utterly meaningless).
[ARTICLE COURTESY OF CULLING SONG]
As can be expected, in the aftermath of last weekend’s capitulation against the Crusaders, all manners of speculation, philosophising, conjecture and outright derision has abounded, with calls being made for changes to the coaching staff, the sacking of players, appointment of mental- and other specialist coaches, and even a move to Moses Mabhida being mooted.
And yet, over the approximate two-decade run of Super Rugby, all of the above (excepting the move of stadiums) has been undergone, often a multitude of times, all without result. Even the all-conquering team of the early-to-mid 90’s, which is still largely regarded as the high water mark of Sharks rugby, failed in their assault of the Super 12 summit. In fact, it is starting to reach the point where those inclined to believe that larger forces guide our lives may just start thinking that the Sharks are destined never to win the southern hemisphere’s premier competition.
All of which has prompted me to start thinking about what I would like to see happening at our beloved union. The conclusion I have reached is that a completely new approach is required; a new philosophy or culture, if you will. Of course, any philosophy or culture requires touchstones to guide that specific vision. And in this case, those touchstones – the foundations of the new value system – should be: The Big Lebowski & Rocket from the Crypt.
For those unfamiliar with any/all of aforementioned (for shame!), allow me to offer a brief primer. The Big Lebowski is a Coen Brothers-directed film that, although unsuccessful on initial theatrical release has gone on to achieve massive cult status, largely due to its cast of memorable characters and infinitely quotable dialogue. Moreover, it has spawned a religion, dudeism, of which yours truly is an ordained priest/minister/cleric/what-have-you. The underlying tenet of dudeism is that what follows after life has run its course is ultimately unknowable, and that we should stop worrying about that, and rather focus on making the most of the here and now.
Rocket from the Crypt (or RFTC) is a punk-inspired rock and roll band from San Diego. While they are by no means the best band in the world (nor my favourite, or even one of my 20 favourite bands – and yes, there is a distinction between the best band in the world and my favourite band), what they are absolutely peerless at is having fun making music, and palpably projecting that sense of fun in their albums and live shows. Furthermore, they are also renowned for the reverence they have for their fans, and for the lengths they go to in engaging with them; whether it be refusing to play on stages, rather setting up in the middle crowds; or allowing free entry to any show, regardless of venue, time or ticket price to all fans sporting a RFTC tattoo; or handing our lyric sheets at shows to encourage sing alongs. With RFTC it’s all about the joy of music, and spreading the joy around.
So with aforementioned in mind, here’s what I want the Sharks to do; stop worrying about winning Super Rugby. Rather focus on developing player skill sets, and an enterprising, entertaining brand of rugby. I’m not advocating turning into the Harlem Globe trotters of rugby (aka. The Cheetahs) and throwing the ball around aimlessly (as they say, you have to earn the right to go wide, but when you have done so, do so, damnit!), but rather an approach where effective utilisation of the backline in an quest to consistently score tries is seen as a key value. And at least make it look like being on the field is more fun than, say, being an accountant or lawyer.
Also, I’d like to the Sharks focus on developing and/or recruiting memorable players; players who have X-factor on the field of play (e.g. Keegan Daniel, Willie le Roux), as well as offering larger-than-life personas off it (e.g. Cabous van der Westhuizen, Nick Cummins). Players, in short, that can entertain on the field of play, and that can stimulate interest in the team off it.
Basically, what I want is for the fun to be brought back to being a Sharks fan. I know this is a pipe dream, and that in the modern sporting world, results are what matter, but frankly, I don’t give a damn anymore. Courtesy of the fare dished out on the field, I’ve watched at most three or four Sharks games this year. And had we gone on to win Super Rugby, I’d be ecstatic and celebrate the achievement, but still wouldn’t be tuning in for the games.
So call me a fair weather fan if you will (and I’m sure many will take up that challenge), but I’ll take the Big Lebowski over The English Patient and RFTC over Mozart any day of the week, and now I want a running, adventurous, entertaining Sharks team over what we are currently faced with.Tweet