Teams win Cups

Written by Morné Nortier (Morné)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks, WP on 1 Nov 2010 at 10:39
Tagged with : , ,

The difference between a team totally reliant on individual performances, and a team reliant on total team-effort, is a Currie Cup title.

The Currie Cup final provided us with a unique insight into the psyche of South African rugby and in my view, exactly why we got our asses whipped by the All Blacks and Aussies this year.

Sharks captain Stefan Terblanche’s speech on receiving the Currie Cup trophy highlighted this too, and although a bit too melodramatic for my liking from the Sharks skipper, it takes nothing away from the message, and that is the game of rugby is about a 22-man effort for 80 minutes.

The weeks leading up to the final, the Cape media inundated us with articles quoting Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana and Schalk Burger, their importance to the team in an effort to win the title for the first time in 9.  Even Western Province coach, Allister Coetzee highlighted the importance of these, and other key men as crucial to their assault on the title.

On the other side, you hardly heard a word from the Sharks camp.

I am quite a keen follower of social networks like Twitter in addition to your normal main-stream media, and apart from the odd Twitter message from a couple of Sharks players and the odd interview with the Sharks coach John Plumtree, there was no column or spread or endless quotes in articles on or from Willem Alberts, Bismarck du Plessis, Pat Lambie and the likes.

They were quietly flying under the radar.

A couple of months ago a lot was also written about how the Sharks play the game.  Many likened the Sharks brand of rugby to that of the All Blacks, a ball in hand, fast paced approach to the game where you kick when you need to, but possession is primary.

In the week leading up to the final I was asked what the Sharks needed to do to beat Province.

For me it was simple, force them to play outside of their comfort zone, and shut down their stars.  The Blue Bulls (in a close win for WP at Newlands) and the Cheetahs with their victory in the league stages showed Province has no plan B.  They are simply incapable to think on their feet and/or adopt in an in-game situation – pretty similar to the Springboks this year who are also super-reliant on superstars playing well rather than a team effort.

Of course if the superstars do click on the day, the result can be devastating to the opposition, but ask yourself what is easier, planning against 4 or 5 guys, or having to plan against 22?

My message to the Sharks fans was simple.

On attack, have your first receiver be Pat Lambie for 90% of the time and let runners (ball carriers) run off him into wider channels (either inside or out depending on the defensive structures) and suck in Schalk Burger, Jean de Villiers and Duanne Vermeulen.

On defense, shut Jean de Villiers down from the outside, i.e. remove his outside options and force him to play back to the Sharks strength, the forwards and tight 5 – do this with a rush defense.  Get this right, and you take De Jongh, Habana and Aplon right out of the game.  And with Jean de Villiers not favouring kicking as an option, you will shut Province down.

Do this and mark their known (and only ball carriers) in Schalk Burger and Duanne Vermeulen and you are half-way to the title.

My observations were not rocket science.  Having watched all the Western Province and Stormers games this year their game-plan going into the final were as predictable as strong winds in PE.  And knowing they are incapable of changing their approach or pre-determined game plan, it was pretty obvious what was needed from the Sharks to have a fair shot against all these Province superstars.

Stats will show you Lambie handled the ball 36 times, one behind Charl McCleod the top player in this stat on 37 and the next guy way behind on 19.  Out of the 36 times, he passed it 16 times, 6 were classed as playmaker passes, and he kicked 9 times.  He carried the ball 12 times and made 153 meters.

Is this significant?

On the face of it not so much, but then look at how many times the forwards handled the ball.  The individual with the highest count here is Ryan Kankowski on 16, with Alberts one behind on 15.

Then compare it to WP.  De Wall handled the ball 35 times, but of this he passed it 27 times, that is over 77%.  He had 5 ball carries, gained 96 meters but shockingly, only kicked two times…

I will come back to De Waal, but from the Province forwards this one stat is significant to me.  Schalk Burger handled the ball 28 times (almost as much as his flyhalf), Vermeulen 21 times.  None of them had any line breaks, and they only gained 80 and 94 meters respectively.

Here is where it gets interesting though, the combined meters gained by Schalk and Vermeulen is 6 meters short of the total meters gained by the whole Sharks starting forward pack!

It is quite clear to see that there was absolutely no variety in the Province’s approach with ball in hand.  Their flyhalf was reduced to a ball shifter, their skipper simply had to be part of every single attacking move which left Western Province, a predictable, dull bunch or wallies you can coach a high-school team to defend against.

Add the intensity and hunger the Sharks brought to the game, and the result is not all that surprising.

The last thing that fascinated me about the final from a Western Province perspective was the comments from the captain (Schalk) and coach (Coetzee).

Firstly Coetzee mentioned they identified the Sharks back-three as super dangerous and thus did not want to kick any ball onto them.

Schalk chipped in explaining his insistence of going for the line (what was it?) 6 or 7 times instead of posts was because they had to play catch-up rugby after being down 20-3 at one stage.

Gentleman, or anyone, I would love for you to explain to me why Willem de Waal, a known Currie Cup final match winner with his boot both territorially, and hitting the penalties, was selected in the first place?  Why select a player, and then tell him you are not going to provide you with the platform he thrives on?  And for the record Schalk, the first time you turned down a shot at goal, there was still 34 minutes of rugby left to be played and you were only two scores behind…

Where the Sharks did everything to give us a great final, WP rugby seemingly did their utmost to enhance the reputation of South African teams and players being completely dof.


  • Hahahahaha!! Too true, Morne!

  • Comment 1, posted at 01.11.10 10:50:39 by Ice can't wait anymore Reply
  • I enjoyed Stef’s comment in his speech.

    Any team can beat any group of individuals…

    Western Province; the Real Madrid of SA rugby.

  • Comment 2, posted at 01.11.10 11:11:31 by klempie Reply
  • You are pretty hard on your team Morne.

  • Comment 3, posted at 01.11.10 11:14:27 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Letgo
  • @Letgo (Comment 3) :

    Letgo – maybe, but the truth is the truth – and as they say..the truth hurts…but I am very sure Morne will not change his support!! 😉

  • Comment 4, posted at 01.11.10 11:16:25 by Ice-Cool CC Champ 2010 Reply
  • Great article.. the sharks have won their last 13 games played at kings park… its awesome to have the “fortress” tag. Now that Absa have pulled out… What will the fortress be called? Kings Park?

  • Comment 5, posted at 01.11.10 11:17:24 by mikey Reply
  • @Mikey. I hope so. I could live with Securicor Kings Park or even Coca-Cola Kings Park – just so long as we don’t end up with Kentucky Fried Chicken Kings Park…. 😆

  • Comment 6, posted at 01.11.10 11:28:46 by Scooby55 Reply
  • I think that apart from a great gameplan by the Sharks it also once agains proves that a team can’t play great rugby without a great flyhalf.

    Oh and BTW…all the people that were against Lambie moving from 15 to 10….please stand up so I can say…TOLD YOU SO!!!! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 7, posted at 01.11.10 11:35:54 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @Pokkel (Comment 7) : I saw Hawking’s Universe and Through the Wormhole last night. 😎

  • Comment 8, posted at 01.11.10 11:44:24 by klempie Reply
  • @Pokkel (Comment 7) : seesh – are you suggesting Lambie would not make great 15 – shame on you :mrgreen:

  • Comment 9, posted at 01.11.10 11:47:57 by rekinek Reply
  • @klempie (Comment 8) : Cool!

  • Comment 10, posted at 01.11.10 11:48:07 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @Letgo (Comment 3) :

    I dont think so, it is not as I have not said this before.

  • Comment 11, posted at 01.11.10 11:49:37 by Morné Reply
  • @rekinek (Comment 9) : I never said that only that he is much more valuable at 10

  • Comment 12, posted at 01.11.10 11:54:51 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @Pokkel (Comment 12) : i’m pulling your leg 😉

  • Comment 13, posted at 01.11.10 12:02:13 by rekinek Reply
  • WP are far better than the scoreline suggests.

    Captain and coach must own up to stupid strategic and tactical decision-making. How do you NOT go for poles with 30 minutes left, for example?

  • Comment 14, posted at 01.11.10 12:36:20 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • I think the most significant stat of the game was that the Sharks’ first handling error came only in the 60th minute. By then WP had something to the tune of 10 knocks behind them.

  • Comment 15, posted at 01.11.10 12:40:59 by rhineshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Spirit of Rugby
  • @Big Fish (Comment 14) : @rhineshark (Comment 15) :

    They were blown off the field in the first 25 minutes.

    Great teams recover from this, they simply could not. But that has been the story of WP and the Stormers for some time now – there is no plan B.

  • Comment 16, posted at 01.11.10 12:44:27 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 16) :
    A lot of the inability to recover is down to not having senior figures in the team.

    Guys like JDV and Habana are helluva experienced, but they spent recent seasons in different teams. Even Schalk plays few CC games. The fact that Van Zyl was chosen as the Cappie, despite being relatively new to WP shows a lack of senior players and leaders.

    On the other hand (Darren), the Sharks had a lot of senior guys to call on in pressure situations – which is why guys like Lambie and Mvovo could play so calmly.

    Oupa, Jannie and others bring great stability in tough situations.

  • Comment 17, posted at 01.11.10 12:57:14 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 14) :

    Maybe Schalk was not confident in De Waal’s ability to kick those penalties.

    I mean you saw the two sitters he missed in the first half!! 🙄

  • Comment 18, posted at 01.11.10 13:28:29 by wpw Reply
  • These guys were playing for each other , there were no individuals , no glory boys and no names and dates on jerseys for the special occasion ! Just shows you how they value each and every jersey , nothing and no one is bigger than the team.

  • Comment 19, posted at 01.11.10 13:32:06 by King Deysel Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 18) : :mrgreen:

  • Comment 20, posted at 01.11.10 13:32:15 by klempie Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 18) : one cannot let that deter u IMO…everyone misses, even Lambie and they keep on giving him the chance.

  • Comment 21, posted at 01.11.10 13:32:23 by Ice-Cool CC Champ 2010 Reply
  • @Big Fish (Comment 17) :

    I have to agree with you Feeeesh…

    In the post-match interviews, Stef thanked the senior players in the team, and players he thanked included Keegan, Sykes and Strauss..

  • Comment 22, posted at 01.11.10 13:38:35 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Richard Ferguson
  • @Ice-Cool CC Champ 2010 (Comment 21) : He’s just clutching at straws drol…as Province supporters are wont to do. 😉

  • Comment 23, posted at 01.11.10 13:39:48 by klempie Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 18) :

    Schalk really regretted the fact that he did not go for poles earlier in the game..

  • Comment 24, posted at 01.11.10 13:39:49 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Richard Ferguson
  • Does anybody have any idea when we’ll know about the fitness of de Jongh and de Villiers? Did Andries Strauss just tackle himseld into the Bok team? :mrgreen:

  • Comment 25, posted at 01.11.10 14:06:17 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 24) : It’s funny that everyone is complaining about the times he didn’t go for poles and it didn’t work, but no one has mentioned the time (just before halftime) that he went for the corner and it paid of. Had it not been for that decision and the try they scored they may have lost with 30-6.

    It’s real easy to say it was the wrong decision now, but had Province scored just after half time it would have been 16-23 and a tight game.

    He backed his team to score the try. Unfortunately for him he played against one of the most committed Sharks defenses I’ve ever seen. I think maybe by the 3rd or 4th time he should have realized that we’re not going to let them through, but maybe by that time he felt the pressure to get the try.

    Anyway, I’m glad he didn’t take the three, it worked out beautifully for the Sharks!!! 😀

  • Comment 26, posted at 01.11.10 14:07:18 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Letgo
  • @Letgo (Comment 26) : Did you and Reki have fun?? Silly question I know! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 27, posted at 01.11.10 14:11:12 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • Apparently McCleod is on stand-by for Boks.

  • Comment 28, posted at 01.11.10 14:16:11 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 28) : Seriously. I thought he tore ankle ligaments?

  • Comment 29, posted at 01.11.10 14:18:06 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @Pokkel (Comment 29) :

    Nothing in printed media yet…

  • Comment 30, posted at 01.11.10 14:22:59 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 28) : I would have thought as much..

  • Comment 31, posted at 01.11.10 14:23:38 by Ice-Cool CC Champ 2010 Reply
  • @Letgo (Comment 26) :

    I know this might sound wrong, but I am happy that WP scored a try, because otherwise the Sharks would have had too big a lead and they would have come out to defend, which would have been our downfall..

  • Comment 32, posted at 01.11.10 14:30:08 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Richard Ferguson
  • @Morné (Comment 28) : Wow what a season he’s having as well. From second choice 9 at the Sharks to possible Springbok. 😎

  • Comment 33, posted at 01.11.10 14:30:21 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @Letgo (Comment 26) :
    Spot on.

  • Comment 34, posted at 01.11.10 14:31:19 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Salmonoid the Subtle
  • Burger, De Jongh out of Bok squad due to injuries, Stegmann and Adi called up – Kirchner also called up

  • Comment 35, posted at 01.11.10 14:55:26 by Morné Reply
  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 32) : I’m with you on that, I really think that try worked in our favor in more ways than one.

  • Comment 36, posted at 01.11.10 14:59:00 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Letgo
  • @Morné (Comment 28) : @Morné (Comment 30) : What’s your source?
    I would love it if it’s true. I don’t think he’ll let any team down and even though it probably won’t be permanent this will mean a lot to the guy!

  • Comment 37, posted at 01.11.10 15:03:02 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Letgo
  • @Letgo (Comment 37) :

    Check out the new thread..

  • Comment 38, posted at 01.11.10 15:09:28 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Richard Ferguson
  • “Stats will show you Lambie handled the ball 36 times, one behind Charl McCleod the top player in this stat on 37 and the next guy way behind on 19.”

    And McLeod only played 40mins.

  • Comment 39, posted at 01.11.10 20:08:31 by JustPlainSHARK Reply

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