Get off the bandwagon!

Written by Morné Nortier (Morné)

Posted in :Original Content on 26 May 2008 at 10:30

It is shocking to read reports around the web where guys are looking for a fall-guy following the Sharks defeat.

In fact, let me even change this around a bit and start with the paragraph or statement I would normally put at the end of my column.

The Sharks were beaten on Saturday by the better team on the day – fact! Move on.

Before I get to some reports I read let’s just look at the obvious a bit;

• The Sharks were shunted in the tight phases – scrums were okay but not great and line-out’s were an absolute mess.
• The usually solid Sharks defense was disorganized and simply put – chaotic.
• The Sharks backline could not buy a blade of grass across the advantage line – but that is to be expected when first phase possession is crap.
• The Sharks were beaten badly at the breakdowns, with Elsom probably having his best game of rugby ever and my personal man of the match.

Now why do you need to go and look to blame a person, and specifically Epi Taione for the dismal performances of all 15 rugby players?

I have read a couple of times in the paper how the Stormers punched above their weight in this year’s Super 14 which is the reason they did so well, but ran out of gas at the end. Well if this is the case and if I can use a similar analogy then I would say the Sharks were punching at about shin-level this whole competition where they were 3 feet taller than most teams…

Throughout the season I told a lot of my Sharks supporter friends that the Sharks are not playing good rugby, and the implosion will come sooner rather than later – this was before the tour. After the tour I believe some actually started to believe me.

Looking at the season as a whole, I reckon Sharks supporters can be damned glad they reached the semi-final’s, because they surely did not play like a team looking like they are going to win the thing – let alone end up in the last 4. Now this of course does not mean that any supporter should be happy with that! Damn, the Sharks are good enough to win this competition, they simply did not play like it at all during the whole season.

I was a lone Stormers supporter who was bitterly disappointed with how the team’s season ended – with most fellow supporters singing the praises of how well the boys did – compared to last year or the last 3 years – I did not see it that way. It is in the same sense that I can understand, and appreciate the disappointment of Sharks supporters, because we all know they are a better team than the one that was on show this year.

The Sharks had one good game of rugby this entire season, ONE! And if you want to judge a team or players because of a poor semi-final exit then you need to get your head checked. A team that plays one decent game of rugby in 14 does not deserve to even smell a semi.

There are reasons for the poor season and I have my opinions on them, for instance;

• The Sharks suffered much like the Bulls because of World Cup 2008 and the end-of-year tour that followed. Because the Sharks and Bulls made up the majority of the Bok team they were stuck with a bunch of guys who were not only physically drained, but emotionally too and were given no time to recuperate.

• The Sharks lost great players – not only great players, but players in absolutely vital positions including their skipper. I would like for anyone to tell me which positions are more important than hooker and captain, flyhalf and fullback? I can think of one possible position. This meant the Sharks were short on experience going into the competition – no matter how many Springboks they had in their side.

• I was never a fan of the rotation policy used by coaches, and will never be. I believe they got it wrong here. Players, especially the youngsters needed to be managed effectively, especially given their fragile ego’s and states of mind – this was not done properly – and yes I am referring to the likes of Steyn and Pienaar who were both shocking, not only in the semi, but throughout the year.

• Lastly, it is never easy when you know your coach is one his way out, and when this season kicked off, everyone knew Dick was on his way. Players lose a sense of security when the guard is changed, and I reckon not enough is contributed to this fact as having an influence on the Sharks season.

The selections Dick made for the semi was tactically sound before this game kicked off – the thinking behind it made sense – it simply did not pay off on the day – add to this a brilliant, probably their most brilliant of their entire Super rugby history, display of the Waratahs and the reason for the loss is quite simple and logical.

If you want to blame players on the day for a poor performance, I suggest you look at the performances of Bismarck and Ruan. Ruan as the pivot and play-maker was no-where, more disappointing though was his defense – people raised concerns about his defense at 9 and those concerns were viciously exposed at 10. He together with Steyn was defensively poor on the day.

But those are opinions, some which could be debated like adults – to finger one or two players for a season’s disappointments is unfair.

Your team is much better than the one that pitched up from game 1, the worst thing any supporter could do now is to turn against their own players and coach or even ex-coach. Take it from me, they hurt more than any of us can even begin to imagine.

Raise your disappointment with your team – as a supporter you have the right to do so, but also tip your hat and wish them good luck for the future and put away the crosses and rifles for the planned lynching at high noon!


  • Thanks Morné. A great piece as usual and some much-needed perspective.

  • Comment 1, posted at 26.05.08 10:39:06 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Amen for this article.

  • Comment 2, posted at 26.05.08 10:51:59 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • My feelings about this season is that the Sharks had a lot of star quality in individual players. But they never really put it together consistently in team performances.

    Saturday’s performance was symbolic of the whole season. We saw some great players out there, but they were trying to compete in an individual sport at times. Bissie is a great hooker, and Johan, ALbert and Sykes are top locks. But it was all over the place as a lineout team.

    In the loose forwards Botes and Kanko are both greats to me and Epi is highly thought of, but again that aspect of hunting in a group was not there.

    And unfortunately when the other team also has great players, but they play together and for each other – then they will stuff you every time.

    For the CC the Sharks need to come togther as a team.

  • Comment 3, posted at 26.05.08 11:24:57 by yossarian Reply

  • Good article…

  • Comment 4, posted at 26.05.08 11:28:30 by blackshark Reply

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  • The Australian pack has come of age.
    Add a bit of Robbie Deans and you are going to be looking at one good team.

  • Comment 5, posted at 26.05.08 11:40:31 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • Good morning all.

    Well – what can one say? I have felt all season that the Sharks haven’t fired on all cylinders except against the Chiefs. Having said that – it doesn’t stop the intense disappointment. And people say “it’s only a game”. Not!!! 😥

  • Comment 6, posted at 26.05.08 12:24:24 by Nessa Reply

  • As bad as the Sharks were in this game, with about 20 mins to go they still had a real chance to win the game if they got their first try. Another one shortly after that and they would have been sitting just 5 behind with about 10mins to play.

    But the one thing that struck me was that there didn’t seem to be any desire from any of them (except Kankowski) to really want to win the game. Just look at the commitment of Lachie Turner when he made that try-saving tackle on Burden. Then compare that to Ruan Pienaar at flyhalf. It’s like he went into hiding and didn’t really want the ball… Whereas the young kids in the foreign teams stand up to be counted in big games, our youngsters very often hide away.

    In saying all that, the Tahs have had the best defence of all the teams in the competition… This Saturday they will have to defend even better for the first 60 mins and at the same time build up a bit of a lead. Because the last 20 will belong to the Saders, no matter what.

    Just my 5 cents…

  • Comment 7, posted at 26.05.08 12:24:33 by Ghost10 (YNWA) Reply

  • @Ghost10 (YNWA) (Comment 7) :

    My thoughts exactly. Which is why I say that I don’t know why it took Dick so long to sub Epi and Bismarck – and why it took him so long to bring Brad on. We still had time to turn things around.

  • Comment 8, posted at 26.05.08 12:27:41 by Nessa Reply

  • @Nessa (Comment 6) :

    AGREE – I am a state of moping..its quite surreal..thought we gona come through big time…we did not.. 😥

  • Comment 9, posted at 26.05.08 12:36:49 by I'ce (TKMITFM) Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • Hi Ice – seems like there was a lot of unhappiness in the camp the night before – one wonders!! The guys just didn’t look like they wanted to be there.

  • Comment 10, posted at 26.05.08 12:37:59 by Nessa Reply

  • I was just so chuffed with Craig for his try though. 😀

  • Comment 11, posted at 26.05.08 12:38:56 by Nessa Reply

  • @Nessa (Comment 10) :

    Absolutely..sumthing was wrong…wish I knew the story..why you say that – info?

  • Comment 12, posted at 26.05.08 12:41:17 by I'ce (TKMITFM) Reply
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  • I don’t agree that the selections were tactically sound at all.

    I do believe Dick made a gross error with Epi, and here I am not blaming Epi, he did not pick himself.

    As the commentators and many others noted, he has not played rugby in 7 weeks and is a discipline liability. And it sure showed.

    I have never been a great fan of Steyn and think he was shown up by Brad both against the chiefs and this week.

    I do think those two selections were not good.

    Was AJ injured??? Leaving him out was really dof if he wasn’t.

  • Comment 13, posted at 26.05.08 12:49:06 by beez Reply

  • @beez (Comment 13) :

    I thought he’d be at ;east on the bench…then I saw him in his jeans…Epi was a mistake – he had a HORRIFIC game – but it could have gone the other way as well I suppose, But I could not wait for Deysel to come up – but then it was too late.

    Why cant they keep the “in-house politics and other stuff at home”..??

  • Comment 14, posted at 26.05.08 12:52:45 by I'ce (TKMITFM) Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • AJ was injured – hand injury – night before.

    Epi was supposed to get them front foot ball, and with his reputation and strength it was sound reasoning – simply did not pay off – because no players received ball going forward, let alone Epi.

    Peopl highlight his 5 knocks – Ruan’s missed tackles had more of an effect than a couple of knocks…

  • Comment 15, posted at 26.05.08 12:57:26 by MorneN Reply
  • I think that it’s a real shame that we didn’t see the best of Epi. Every rugby side needs a couple of meat-heads.

    What this loss has done has asked some serious questions that weren’t being asked when we were winning ugly.

  • Comment 16, posted at 26.05.08 12:58:56 by Flashman Reply

  • So too Bismarck’s woefull performance at the line out – one of which was an attacking line out 5 meters out.

  • Comment 17, posted at 26.05.08 13:03:18 by MorneN Reply
  • @I’ce (TKMITFM) (Comment 14) :

    SORRRYYYY for just giving my little humble op… 😉

  • Comment 18, posted at 26.05.08 13:07:18 by I'ce (TKMITFM) Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • On the one hand Taione hadn’t played for 7 weeks, on the other hand when he did play, as short as it was, he did nothing wrong other than his stupid headbutt.

    There was quite a bit of support in favour of having Epi back last week. None of us were to know he would have such a shocker.

    Some rustiness may have been expected but none of us expected what we saw.

    It was a call that didn’t work out. nothing more nothing less.

  • Comment 19, posted at 26.05.08 13:09:12 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 19) :

    As I said in #14…had a horrific game – BUT could have easily gone the other way…meaning he coul have been the star… 😉

  • Comment 20, posted at 26.05.08 13:11:45 by I'ce (TKMITFM) Reply
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  • @MorneN (Comment 17) :

    Were his throw-ins that bad? They all seemed to be thrown at the perfect height. I think his undoing was the long delay, which must have been a tactic, before the throw. And it must be remembered that he didn’t make the calls. Why, when Vickerman was doing so well, did Muller call a 4 ball every time?

  • Comment 21, posted at 26.05.08 13:13:46 by Flashman Reply

  • @Flashman (Comment 21) :

    You thinkng “conspiracy”? 😉 😉

  • Comment 22, posted at 26.05.08 13:17:19 by I'ce (TKMITFM) Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • Well…we all know how we ended up playing in a semi-final in Sydney…

    It was due to some good performances…and some bad performances…

    Anyway- I don’t think anyone can honestly point all fingers at Paddy Power for what happened on Saturday…the team effort was SHOCKING…too bad he had to be the EPITOME of that all round bad performance.

    Looking forward to the next competition. We still have a strong squad…and hopefully Plum will have more luck this time around…

  • Comment 23, posted at 26.05.08 13:22:44 by blackshark Reply

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  • He folded under pressure – simple.

    Skew, mis-timed, not timed at all throwing in when no-one is even jumping etc etc.

    It does take two to win line-out ball but if the one does not even feature (jumper) you have to ask question of the other.

    It was pressure – same as what happened to Brits for the Stormers.

  • Comment 24, posted at 26.05.08 13:23:46 by MorneN Reply
  • @I’ce (TKMITFM) (Comment 22) :

    Not really, Vickerman is just a fantastic line out jumper, we all know that. Why not throw to 2? He did try an 8 ball but I don’t think that the number 8 jumper (Kanko?) knew about it.

    Or Muller could have called a looped throw to 4; all of the throws were flat which allowed Vickerman to get in front of Muller and steal the ball.

  • Comment 25, posted at 26.05.08 13:26:11 by Flashman Reply

  • @MorneN (Comment 24) :

    I say we split the responsibility both ways then…just for arguments sake…because both Bis and Johan looked uncharacteristically nervous to me…

    Honestly, we were not sharp or fast enough…they beat us to EVERYTHING…even though we did put up one or two huge scrums. Other than that…watching that game was like having someone giving me the ROBDYLAN hairstyle ….with tweezers…

  • Comment 26, posted at 26.05.08 13:31:27 by blackshark Reply

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  • @blackshark (Comment 26) :

    They did look nervous didn’t they? Muller looked petrified every time he gave Bis a line out call. Not the face you want to see on your leader; more like a Cardigan than a Wellesley.

  • Comment 27, posted at 26.05.08 13:34:32 by Flashman Reply

  • you can split it both ways if you want, the primary responsibility at line-out time lies with the hooker however.

    My boet played provincial rugby at hooker, we had this discussion after the game too because I wanted to understand it better.

  • Comment 28, posted at 26.05.08 13:40:07 by MorneN Reply
  • @MorneN (Comment 28) : What province? And what is his name?

  • Comment 29, posted at 26.05.08 14:05:28 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • You know I am not the name-dropping type oke mate!

    Will tell you offline.

  • Comment 30, posted at 26.05.08 14:09:09 by MorneN Reply
  • funnily enough, for me the bigggest loss to the sharks was ackerman, with the backrow as it is, a player like ackerman is sorely missed.

    i dont know what the answer is for the sharks, sykes will need a couple of years to get that sort of presence. i think we have a dearth of quality 4’s in SA period. after bakkies, no-one.

  • Comment 31, posted at 26.05.08 14:15:04 by cab Reply

  • @MorneN (Comment 30) : 🙂

  • Comment 32, posted at 26.05.08 14:15:05 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Even Deon looked nervous before the game.

  • Comment 33, posted at 26.05.08 14:36:56 by Nessa Reply

  • the primary responsibility at line-out time lies with the hooker however.

    @MorneN (Comment 28) :

    I beg to differ…

    I’ve never played provincial rugby…but I honestly think the HOOKER gave some away…and the JUMPERS lost some.

  • Comment 34, posted at 26.05.08 15:05:50 by blackshark Reply

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