Running of the Sharks?

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 1 Sep 2011 at 07:30
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

In Pamplona, during the hot summer months, the Spanish locals participate in an annual festival called “the running of the bulls”, where they whip up a herd of of the animals into a frenzy and allow them to run wild down the village streets, stamping on and goring participants as they go. While the Blue Bulls class of 2012 have shown little this Currie Cup to suggest that they are in the same league as these ferocious beasts, it would appear to be their opponents – the Sharks – who intend to do the running this weekend.

An interesting quote from coach John Plumtree during the week leads one to this conclusion. Research reveals that similar bull running festivals are common throughout the mediterranean region, including Southern France and it was when talking about the impact of his French flyhalf, Frederic Michalak, that Plumtree quipped, “we’re going to play more French rugby this week, he’s finally convinced me we need to play wide to wide to wide; there’s going to be lots of entertainment.”

Translation: we’re going to do less bashing and more running. Less aimless charging from forwards and backs alike and more intelligent rugby, seeking space instead of contact. More direct involvement from our real gamebreakers, powerhouse wingers Lwazi Mvovo and Sbura Sithole. All of this, to me, sounds good. The one slight concern I have is that it sounds like it may be Michalak himself who’s now coaching the backline, but any port in a storm, as they say.

We’ve criticised Plumtree in the past for an overly-conservative, one-dimensional gameplan that, while effective when it does work, is far from foolproof and seldom pretty. While “winning ugly” is, of course, always preferable to any sort of loss, the fact remains that a lot of what is special about Sharks rugby – the free-flowing high-tempo game seeing forwards and backs combine in a spectacle of running rugby – seems to be on the wane under the pragmatic Kiwi’s coaching. While any coach would be foolish not to play to his strengths, the overemphasis on the forward-dominated game appears to have led to a virtual stagnation of creative backline play and while their remain doubts about the midfield, one has to agree that the Sharks’ dangerous outside backs are being negated by the current approach.

Loftus this weekend could be the turning point. The Sharks started this Currie Cup season playing lovely rugby, but went straight into their shells after getting a big hiding in Kimberley. The shackles need to come off, though and it’s time for the team to stop being so scared to lose and rather embrace a game plan that makes best use of the wonderful array of skills within the team in the interests of playing entertaining, yet also winning rugby. In reality, the combination of weakened opposition and sub-standard refereeing has dragged the standard of play in this year’s Currie Cup down a notch and the Sharks have allowed themselves to be pulled down too. It’s time for them to show that they are a cut above the rest.

As always, though, the fans need to be supportive of what they’re trying to do and be patient with the team, just in case they don’t get it completely right at first try.


  • Rob, please approve my new avatar. Time for a change.

  • Comment 1, posted at 01.09.11 07:38:26 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • The sharks are seriously starting to annoy me lol..they just know how to win at loftus.Do not be surprised if loftus is packed with sharks supporters and alot of them.Its like a damn home game for you sharkies grrrrr

  • Comment 2, posted at 01.09.11 07:45:22 by Muzi Reply

  • If i was plumtree i would select coetzee @8…deysel @7and keegan as a loose trio.Tecklenburg and potties are light weight poor stander has his work cut out for him.

  • Comment 3, posted at 01.09.11 07:47:32 by Muzi Reply

  • @Culling Song (Comment 1) : done!

  • Comment 4, posted at 01.09.11 07:47:53 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Last year thats exactly what the Sharks did in the Currie Cup and why they were successful- they moved the ball the width of the field and back again until gaps opened up that they could exploit! This season we have struggled to hold onto the ball in contact so using that gameplan is a little worrying but we will see. And why not use Michalak to help coach the backline…he has over 50 caps for France and is known to be be 1 of the most creative players in World Rugby.

  • Comment 5, posted at 01.09.11 08:03:42 by SheldonK Reply

  • Good morning guys. I have no problem if Freddie gives is input. If our forwards start playing the powerhouse game that we know they can, then the backs can play with all the french flair in the world.

  • Comment 6, posted at 01.09.11 08:25:49 by KingRiaan Reply

  • They need to drop Stefan and bring in Adi if they are to play this type of game.

  • Comment 7, posted at 01.09.11 08:27:50 by John Galt Reply

    John Galt
  • The Sharks can do it, I am quietly optimistic that we will… Big game feel to it, quality side posted by The Bulls, we will need to perform at a high standard, which we can do… Marais starting is a great boon, however I would feel for Anton if he is out of the matchday squad…

  • Comment 8, posted at 01.09.11 08:32:23 by DarkDestroyer Reply

  • Backing the Sharks to take this one. Bulls don’t have the right balance, and they need to show Potgieter the door.

    Problem I have with the Bulls… all the players that made them a successful franchise are now travelling to New Zealand (except for Wynand Olivier). The ‘adequate’ players have been retained, but are now being shown up when they’re expected to step up.

  • Comment 9, posted at 01.09.11 08:34:49 by hendrikp Reply

  • Can’t wait for Saturday. Always nice to see the Bulls, beaten, blue and bloody. Come on eat them alive Sharks.:evil:

  • Comment 10, posted at 01.09.11 08:43:23 by FS Shark Reply

    FS Shark
  • Sounds promising…

  • Comment 11, posted at 01.09.11 08:45:26 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @John Galt (Comment 7) : In your dreams… ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

  • Comment 12, posted at 01.09.11 09:01:16 by Charlie Reply

  • @John Galt (Comment 7) : @Charlie (Comment 12) : Let my add my weight of opinion to Charlie’s voice. Dear John, youโ€™d think starting Adi would be a no-brainer if you wanted to play a running game, but alas, for reasons unfathomable it is about as unlikely to happen as me buying a Beyonce cd. Which, if you’ve been hanging around here a while, you’ll know is never. Never ever. Not even at gunpoint. Or bazookapoint. Or intercontinental ballistic missilepoint. I think Iโ€™ve made my point. It’s a fool who looks for logic in the chambers of Plum’s heart.

  • Comment 13, posted at 01.09.11 09:10:09 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • Wow this Arty just gave me shivers….

  • Comment 14, posted at 01.09.11 09:33:22 by Franshark Reply
  • @Franshark (Comment 14) : oh, I’ll explain when I know why ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Comment 15, posted at 01.09.11 09:34:17 by Franshark Reply
  • @Culling Song (Comment 13) :
    Sadly true.

    And also why I’m not quite excited about Plumtree’s newfound laissez-faire attitude. He seems to fall back on it when all else fails, and then go right back to brainless bashing as soon as we start to improve on the log.

  • Comment 16, posted at 01.09.11 09:43:47 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 16) : Plummo are just born in New Zealand, he does not coach or implement the same stuff, there is defenitely something going on though from Mitchell (that’s NZ blueprint) in the Lion’s den… ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

  • Comment 17, posted at 01.09.11 10:13:44 by Charlie Reply

  • @Culling Song (Comment 13) : ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

  • Comment 18, posted at 01.09.11 10:14:10 by Charlie Reply

  • This sounds promising. I just hope the guys can implement this properly.

  • Comment 19, posted at 01.09.11 10:18:59 by war1 Reply
  • Well, and so with Spring Day we see changes all around us. Would like to see the changes in gameplan show blossoms and leaves sprouting…….and later bear fruit.

    But the backline needs younger trees

  • Comment 20, posted at 01.09.11 13:43:27 by JustPlainSHARK Reply


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