A rucking good victory

Written by Morné Nortier (Morné)

Posted in :All Blacks, Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 3 Nov 2010 at 09:26
Tagged with : , , , , ,

If anything, the Sharks Currie Cup success has allowed me to revisit a favourite old topic of mine.

Following the Currie Cup victory in Durban last Saturday, I was pleased to read a piece by Gavin Rich on SuperRugby where he repeated what has been mentioned quite often in 2010, the way the Sharks re-invented their game plan or strategy and how it was very similar to the All Blacks.

The reference was mainly to the ruck or tackled area, and how possession under the new laws are key.

Most of you that read my columns will now that I am quite amused by South African’s fascination of the ‘fetcher-theory’ in rugby, something that is a favourite media topic in criticising specifically Bok selections and something that has become even more of a hot topic since Heinrich Brussow’s stellar year in 2009.

A couple of months ago already I wrote a column on how I believe we are reading too much into this area, or specific role and position in the game of rugby union.

Not to take anything away from those unfortunate souls who are categorised as fetchers, but thanks to the Sharks I think this point is again re-enforced.

In the final, as was the case for most of the season, the Sharks went into the game without a recognised or specialist fetcher.  Ho-hum how could they!!!???  I mean given the media fascination regarding this position or role I was sure that I would see inches, no wait, meters of column space dedicated on the fact how Western Province’s loosies with Springbok ‘fetcher’ Francois Louw in their team was going to murder them at the breakdown…  Low and behold, there was not a single comment, let alone a feature piece.

Why would that be then?  Would it be that guys, like Gavin Rich in his column realised the effect and importance of the way the Sharks adopted their game in similar fashion to what New Zealand did this year, has had us clutching at straws in the last couple of years with regards to the importance of such a player?

Of course some would say the law-changes has had an effect of how the game is played and officiated in this area, but then again, the so-called ‘fetchers’ we measured our players against in Richie McCaw and David Pocock (before him George Smith) was as effective, if not more effective, than what they have been before these law changes!  Could it just perhaps be that we got it wrong?

I mentioned to one of the SharksWorld authors last night that if anything, I wish the Sharks would dominate South African rugby for the next 5 years just so we can get over the fascination of the role of a fetcher in rugby as a specific role or specifically assigned position within a team – if that happens, at least the loss of the past weekend would be worth it!

Dan Retief also ventured into the unknown in a column he wrote recently where he identified the strategy New Zealand seem to be using at the breakdown and for my money, he was not far off.  In short it again re-affirmed that being proficient at the breakdown, has a hell of a lot more to do with the team’s strategy as a whole in this area, than one guy.

Does this mean the end of players like Brussow?  Not in the least, in fact I would like to believe that since they would have this fetcher bogey of their backs they would even become more effective in playing towards the ball, which is, and has always been, the primary role of a forward flanker.

Maybe, just maybe the Sharks victory in the Currie Cup and the way they went about doing it and played the game in this area, will make other teams, and coaches wake up to the fact that rugby union and the all important area of the ruck in the modern game has more to do with total team strategy and commitment, than individual role definition.

Now can I get someone to fetch me a beer please?

(You can access the columns referred to in this piece by clicking on the highlighted sections)


  • It just irritates me that the boks always need to copy other teams.We are always a step behind,but I probably look like a fool because we are WC champs…

  • Comment 1, posted at 03.11.10 09:36:44 by Honey Badger Reply
    Honey Badger
  • Well written again Morne. I totally agree!

  • Comment 2, posted at 03.11.10 09:38:32 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • Nice.. Any beer or Windhoek?

  • Comment 3, posted at 03.11.10 09:42:54 by Ice-Cool CC Champ 2010 Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • Great article Morne – you write quickly!

    The Sharks bossed WP by playing 15 men to the ball, versus WP’s 2.

  • Comment 4, posted at 03.11.10 09:50:14 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Ice-Cool CC Champ 2010 (Comment 3) : there’s only one beer around here 🙂

  • Comment 5, posted at 03.11.10 09:52:34 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • The boks should stop playing bulls rugby and start playing sharks rugby!

  • Comment 6, posted at 03.11.10 09:54:53 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • Agreed Morne, there was an article on Keo slagging off Keegan’s selection and Francois Louw’s non-inclusion where I, along with a number of Sharks supporters on that site had to explain this.

    The Sharks two most effective “fetching” players seem to be Bismarck and Jean Deysel. I think a lot of it has to do with forearm strength in their cases. As long as there’s a team effort, an individual fetcher isn’t a necessity, but if you have a player with that skillset, so much the better.

    However, if we see a loose trio of:

    This weekend against Ireland, which sounds likely according to reports of practice sessions, then I’d be shouting for a fetcher.

  • Comment 7, posted at 03.11.10 10:02:31 by MerckZ Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 5) : yeah, I thought so! 😆

  • Comment 8, posted at 03.11.10 10:06:04 by Ice-Cool CC Champ 2010 Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • @MerckZ (Comment 7) : That loose trio just looks like a disaster.

    Has Kanko ever played at 6?

  • Comment 9, posted at 03.11.10 10:10:10 by lostfish Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter Competition Winner
  • @MerckZ (Comment 7) :

    Copy and paste this to them

  • Comment 10, posted at 03.11.10 10:11:48 by Morné Reply
  • Your previous article on this obsession with the fetcher role opened my eyes. For the first time I started paying attention to everything going on around the ruck (instead of focusing only on the tackler and the ball-carrier). It made the game even more enjoyable to watch as I started understanding the various role players. Especially the Sharks games.

    Thanks for the insightful articles! Please keep them coming.

  • Comment 11, posted at 03.11.10 11:42:00 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • Hey Morne, great article. We can only hope the Bok coaches already knows this. I haven’t heard what team you’d select for this weekend. That is if you were Pdiv, but thought like Morne. :mrgreen:

    I’m struggling to think of a solid team for this weekend with the options we have available. Would you go the tried and tested root, or would you try and experiment a bit. Maybe use Lambie at 10? He would be up for it, for sure!

  • Comment 12, posted at 03.11.10 11:56:13 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author

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