Big Fish

Bulls v Sharks: Battle of the 9’s

Written by (Big Fish)

Posted in :Bulls, Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 5 Sep 2008 at 15:22

Having foolishly mouthed off at Rob about his lack of comment on the backline duel, I have been tasked by that eminent gentleman with casting my inconsiderable opinion on the matter before you, dear readers.
Both sides have big, bruising forwards, with the Sharks likely to shade the scrums, while the Bulls will likely dominate the lineouts and probably the rucks as well. This is largely due to the presence of guys like Daniesaurus, van Heerden and Stegmann, who are all physical players, while the latter 2 are also effective on the ground.

The Sharks lack bulk in second row, while Jannie du Plessis and Skipper have never been the most mobile or industrious players. Added to this, with the exception of Jean Deysel, we lack real power up front. My expectation is thus that the Sharks will look to put the ball behind the big Bulls pack, and move the ball 1 channel out on attack.

Key figures in the backline are going to be the scrumhalves – as always. Fourie du Preez has not yet got back to top form, while the new rules might (and I emphasis “might”) take play away from some of his great strengths.

Not that he will suddenly be a poor scrumhalf, but I do feel that the extra space around the scrum, the lessened efficiency of the lineout and mauling, and the speed with which ball is coming out of rucks might favour a player like Ruan, who will be a greater danger in the increased space, and more likely to scythe through a gap at a messy breakdown, where the Bulls players might not enjoy their accustomed luxury of steady, front-foot ball with which to thunder at the defender in front of them like so many ‘roid-raging lemmings.

At this point I should digress a bit and say that I think that we still haven’t seen the full effects of the ELVs, and that’s partly why I wonder whether maybe Ruan might have made a very far-thinking decision to remain at 9. Many people, myself included, started lamenting the impending demise of the big, old-school scrumming prop on hearing about the implementation of the ELVs. We thought that the increased speed of the game would see the end of the scrum as a weapon, and the inability of truly big powerhouses to keep up with the game.

What few factored in was the increased space at scrum time, the fact that more free-kicks would equal more options to scrum and keep the ball, rather than kick out and lose possession, and crucially, that the ability to collapse the maul would lessen the benefit of a good lineout. The sum of these factors is that many times the scrum has been favoured ahead of the lineout or quick-tap – especially as the latter option often means that an attack loses structure or momentum, or that a “jail-break” quickly leads back to the cells.

Subsequently, the scrum has increased in importance, and the lads who eat all the pies are going nowhere. The role of the 9, however, has been impacted, and I am really interested to see how that plays out tomorrow. The Sharks pack, and arguably Ruan too, are in many ways more geared to ELV rugby, while the Bulls, and Du Preez, are still playing a style grounded in the days when rugby balls were still made of stitched leather.

It will be interesting to see which style and player wins this battle.


  • that’ll learn ya!

  • Comment 1, posted at 05.09.08 15:35:38 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • My bet is on Ruan.

  • Comment 2, posted at 05.09.08 15:42:15 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @robdylan (Comment 1) : Talk about “learn ya”, what happened to Piet Pienaar this week? 😈

    BF, apart from you now stopping at the scrumhalves( after giving Rob some stick for stopping at the forwards ), it makes for a good read. You will make it a great read if you care to elaborate. Or are you waiting for KSA for the rest? :mrgreen:

  • Comment 3, posted at 05.09.08 15:53:27 by Silver Fox Reply

    Silver Fox
  • Friends like these… 🙄

    Rest of the backline is pretty make-shift for both sides – I reckon its all gonna happen at 9 and 10 – for the backs anyway.

    I havent watched enough of Morne Steyn to make any constructive comment – hence my not discussing the 10’s.

  • Comment 4, posted at 05.09.08 15:59:45 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • I would like to agree with the above sentiments… however FduP has begun to show glimpses of his prowess again. His reading of the game is still there, his kicking and postional game cannot be faulted, whilst he does posses a turn of speed as well he also has step and is no shrinking violet in the physical stakes. In short he is the complete No.9
    Ruan has the same attributes but may lack Fourie’s confidence.
    Too close to call, and that is perhaps why maybe Rory at 9 and RP at 10 may have been a better option? 🙄

  • Comment 5, posted at 05.09.08 15:59:59 by Ragged Reply

  • @Silver Fox (Comment 3) : Piet did the competition thread. He get tired if you ask him to right more than one stories a weak

  • Comment 6, posted at 05.09.08 16:05:52 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 6) : Funny man! 😆

  • Comment 7, posted at 05.09.08 16:14:23 by Silver Fox Reply

    Silver Fox

  • Comment 8, posted at 05.09.08 16:21:25 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • @Big Fish (Comment 4) : I am rather hoping for a more collective effort (style?) from the Sharks, more or less what the Boks did last weekend. The same score would be more than welcome too!!

  • Comment 9, posted at 05.09.08 16:21:59 by Silver Fox Reply

    Silver Fox
  • @Silver Fox (Comment 3) : 😯

    Hey don’t involve me!!!!!!!!!

    Rob will get all upity with me if i write a piece on why Steyn should be at 12 and Barrit in the cheapseats. 😉

  • Comment 10, posted at 05.09.08 16:25:43 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 10) : Heheheheee :mrgreen:

  • Comment 11, posted at 05.09.08 16:31:05 by Silver Fox Reply

    Silver Fox
  • You guys are so biased!!! I tell you about Brussouw extending his contract and you don’t post it. Some people are interested in other teams other than the sharks. FJ!ELN! 😈

  • Comment 12, posted at 05.09.08 16:34:25 by molly Reply
    Competition WinnerCompetition Winner Author
  • @molly (Comment 12) :

    See ya in a bit. 😉

    Did you email us that info? I missed it.

  • Comment 13, posted at 05.09.08 16:38:16 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 13) : oh… is that what I’m supposed to do? email?
    I posted it in another thread. The most Cheetah-ery one I could find. There weren’t many to choose from 😉

  • Comment 14, posted at 05.09.08 16:39:54 by molly Reply
    Competition WinnerCompetition Winner Author
  • GO SHARKS !!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  • Comment 15, posted at 06.09.08 13:13:26 by Charlie Reply

  • Chat again on Monday… Bye… Cheers 😉

  • Comment 16, posted at 06.09.08 13:14:21 by Charlie Reply


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