Can we PLEASE stop the excuses?

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 2 Nov 2011 at 08:12
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

I’m not sure whether to view the latest round of excuses coming out of Durban with mirth, or disdain, although I’m tending towards the latter. I’m referring, of course, to John Plumtree’s post-Final utterances about how difficult it was to re-integrate the returning Springboks into his side and that there wasn’t enough time to do so successfully… and so on.

That’s just a little bit rich, I though, given that the very same bloke has spent the whole season blaming his team’s lack of synergy and dominance on the fact that the Boks were gone. Seems a little too much like wanting to have your cake and eat it, when you’re blaming defeats during the round-robin stage on your Boks not being there, only to blame the final defeat on the Boks being there… see what I’m getting at?

Spare a thought, too, for the legion of developing stalwarts, the Chadwicks, Breslers, Herbsts and so on, who soldiered away manfully for most of the season, with very little public support from their coach, I might add. Far too often during the course of the season we were told that the Sharks were doing just about as well as could be expected given the lack of big names in the pack – frankly insulting to those players who were doing their best to stand in for those big names and more than just a little ironic when you consider how the Springboks stars were stuffed by the Lions when it counted. I wonder how many of the “second best” guys that Plumtree was “forced” to turn to in the Currie Cup would have walked straight into John Mitchell’s side? I’d put my money on the bald Kiwi snapping up most of them and turning them into the same sort of success stories that Pat Cilliers and Mike Rhodes are.

Rhodes and Cilliers had to endure the same sort of taunts from the Sharks coach in years gone by, always described as “doing ok, but not quite Beast/Jannie/Deysel/Alberts”.

Here’s a new flash, Sharks – you don’t need a team full of Boks to win the Currie Cup. You need a group of hungry, motivated players and you need to COACH them into a cohesive unit. That’s what John Mitchell did. That’s what Naka Drotske is doing and maybe the message would have sunk in just a little bit more keenly had the Cheetahs managed to win their semi-final in Durban. In short, it’s not about the names on paper because any name is only as good as the last performance put in by its owner.

This issue about trying to reintegrate returning Boks too late in the season, to the detriment of team synergy, is also not a new one. It was identified as the reason behind the Sharks’ unexpected semi-final loss to the Cheetahs two years ago. Memories are clearly very short amongst the Sharks coaching staff, or perhaps learning from what hasn’t worked in the past is not a strong suit. Then again, given the fact that the Sharks have slavishly stuck to their outdated 2010 game plan all season, even though it has proved ridiculously easy to counter, would suggest that repeating mistakes is the order of the day down in Durban.


  • “…would suggest that repeating mistakes is the order of the day down in Durban”

    I don’t take in pleasure in criticising the Sharks (players or management) but these words ring very true and sums up a lot of what is wrong with the Sharks’ approach at the moment.

  • Comment 1, posted at 02.11.11 08:19:02 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 1) : I hope you know that I take no pleasure from writing this sort of thing either, but i needs to be said.

  • Comment 2, posted at 02.11.11 08:31:33 by robdylan Reply
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  • Jeeeeezzzzz, I have felt this way even before last years win. The thing is people develop under the exposure there U want them to excel. Not a level or 2 lower and then we look back and say things arnt’ paning out. Aus like the lions must expose there youngsters, its all they have to use(so they get exposure and super confidence). We must integrate every position at the highest level by giving them exposure. We have enough games to d. The word fringe players is a buzz couches use to say. I believe in my game plan and structures only if the best players can execute them……very sad!!! We need to rethink our philosophy of the game. Hendry is the best couch because he learn addapts and is like a Good wine just getting better, the other couches are only a Good year…like any bottle on your shelf. Amen!!!

  • Comment 3, posted at 02.11.11 08:34:13 by BoerSeun Reply

  • Look im not one for making excuses why the Sharks lost etc but I do like to point out some observations, like my little rant about the reffing this year on another post. I have to agree with Plum that it was difficult to integrate the Boks, but not just in the CC but the whole year! And i think the Bulls and WP experienced the same things to different degrees. When the Boks played for their franchises they almost seemed to believe they were better than that level and hence lacked focus and their teams lacked cohesion. Yes there were moments of brilliance, but those moments were a result of the individual and not a team dynamic. Basically what im trying to say is that the 2011 Boks had big heads…not all of them but most! I hope the next coach can bring them back down to earth and maybe then we will see more quality team play from the local sides.

  • Comment 4, posted at 02.11.11 08:42:15 by SheldonK Reply

  • Well said Rob.

  • Comment 5, posted at 02.11.11 08:51:58 by JarsonX Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 2) : It has to be said. But just as important has to be read! Im sick of it as well. During the whole build up of last week, Plum was saying the same freaken thing in each interview, “of how uuuuuummmm difficult it is to integrate… and the lions didn’t have the same challenges as us….”

  • Comment 6, posted at 02.11.11 09:13:53 by SharksRTB Reply

  • Look… The first round in the CC we stuffed the Cheetahs with their main team! We had guys like Ross, Mark and Sithole playing and running the show!!! Those are the guys that should’ve played.
    And that’s why I will stick to my opinion that Mvovs should be starting! Not Odders…

  • Comment 7, posted at 02.11.11 09:18:08 by SharksRTB Reply

  • Look its tough . The first round in the CC the lions beat the sharks convincingly

    2nd round the sharks killed the lions with there boks back … now one has to make a choice . Play without the boks and most likely get killed … or play the boks and have a better chance ..

    In hind site i think the move by Mitch to take a weakened team to Durbz for the 2nd round was brilliant . The Sharks did not expect an onslaught from the Lions even after we Beat Province . hehee

  • Comment 8, posted at 02.11.11 09:40:04 by Zibbie Reply
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  • Have to say that I couldn’t agree more with you. We lost heavily and there can be no excuses on that front.

    Unfortunately, I’ve noticed this season that the Sharks have become something like the French in that if we turn up, we can demolish any team on the day but when we don’t arrive, we’re shocking.

    Am I using this as an excuse? Not at all. I couldn’t watch the game and after hearing the score I deleted it off of my PVR. I have no interest in watching it.

    A score line of 42 – 16 shows that the Lions deserved the win whole-heartedly.

    My disappointment is really in the players which we are recruiting and losing. I will always be grateful for Oupa Stef’s contributions to the Sharks over the years, but unfortunately his time has come. Marius Joubert should have never been brought in. I rather wish we had brought players like Lindeque through to the senior ranks.

  • Comment 9, posted at 02.11.11 09:43:40 by Butchie34 Reply
  • @Zibbie (Comment 8) :
    That’s so true.

    On Saturday morning, I woke up with this feeling about the final. Last year the Sharks did exactly the same thing and took a weakened team down to Newlands to play against WP. They got slaughtered but when the time came for the final, the Sharks full strength team destroyed WP.

    Congrats on the win, you guys deserve it.

  • Comment 10, posted at 02.11.11 09:49:06 by Butchie34 Reply
  • Harsh words for a coach that was runner up in the CC BUT I do agree with what you have said. It would seem that Plum is becoming worse at being a player-‘manager’.

    My worst concern is that the Sharks seems to lack the passion they had last year

  • Comment 11, posted at 02.11.11 09:49:18 by Pokkel Reply
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  • Great article.
    The Super 15 is a long competition, so Plumtree will definitely need to show more faith in the ‘second best guys’..he may just unearth a few more potential Boks.

  • Comment 12, posted at 02.11.11 09:51:54 by nimalen316 Reply

  • @Butchie34 (Comment 10) :

    Thanx . Im really hoping we can keep it up in Super rugby as well . The Lions have now passed there first test . Hopefully onwards and upwards from here 🙂

  • Comment 13, posted at 02.11.11 09:55:03 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @nimalen316 (Comment 12) : The Super Rugby season was long in 2011…how much rotation of guys was done? Hardly any unless there was an injury. Will 2012 be different…unlikely.

  • Comment 14, posted at 02.11.11 09:57:36 by SheldonK Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 2) : Agreed, it needs to be said, it’s fair and it’s constructive (and I know you take no pleasure in posts such as these).

  • Comment 15, posted at 02.11.11 09:59:21 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @Butchie34 (Comment 9) : all in all, the result might have been the same- no CC cup- so yes, this year was the perfect opportunity to bleed youngsters showing that glimps of greatness – Plum failed dismally in growing for the Super rugby season. One has to ask was his personal goal of becoming a back to back CC winning coach more important than leading and growing the players..

  • Comment 16, posted at 02.11.11 10:00:00 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • @SheldonK (Comment 14) : True. Do you think that there is/ will be a plan in place to rotate some of the players for next year’s Super rugby competition?

  • Comment 17, posted at 02.11.11 10:01:39 by nimalen316 Reply

  • @Ice (Comment 16) :

    Do you think Province and Bulls supporters are happy with what they achieved ?

    Thats they one thing i got tired off hearing from the lions .. we are building … Supporters are relentless .. you have to keep the rugby public happy as well …

    im just asking would you guys have been happy not making a semi maybe but blooding a whole lot of younger players ?

  • Comment 18, posted at 02.11.11 10:03:43 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 18) : The funny thing is that WP is now the union who has been unsuccessful for the longest – even though they went on this huge Springbok sigining spree. It’s even more of a lesson than the Sharks this season that rugby is more than the reputation of a couple of players. It’s a team sport.

    @Ice (Comment 16) : Of course. I wanted to see the u21 centres given a few games with the senior team in preparation for the S15 next year. I think in terms of the wings some of our youngsters like Sithole did get some good exposure and if only Mark Richards could have played a few more games as well.

  • Comment 19, posted at 02.11.11 10:12:44 by Butchie34 Reply
  • @Zibbie (Comment 18) : Zibs – its not like we have been cup-less for years! I am sure one seasons “excuse” of building would have been acceptable to most people, as most people were actually saying they are prepared to forget about the CC, if we can build towards a better S15…

  • Comment 20, posted at 02.11.11 10:20:55 by Ice Reply
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  • Very well said Rob!

  • Comment 21, posted at 02.11.11 10:30:08 by Ben Reply
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  • @Ice (Comment 20) :

    now dont lie :p i would have to sit here all day and let each of you cry on my shoulder 😛

    @Butchie34 (Comment 19) : just buying players at random will most likely never work . they players have to be molded as a unit …

  • Comment 22, posted at 02.11.11 10:34:35 by Zibbie Reply
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  • Hey you didn`t hear excuses from my side.

    We were crap, lions were brilliant.

    Maybe wp would`ve made a better finalist?

  • Comment 23, posted at 02.11.11 10:36:25 by Original Pierre Reply
    Original Pierre
  • @Zibbie (Comment 22) : Its true!! It was called for from start of season…

    Off course we would not have been “happy” on the loss – no real winners are. But it was deffo the majority feeling on the site!

  • Comment 24, posted at 02.11.11 10:42:11 by Ice Reply
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  • @Ice (Comment 24) : and a loss might have been handled much better than the one with all the big shots in it! 😉

  • Comment 25, posted at 02.11.11 10:43:31 by Ice Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 18) :
    Thats actually a double sided sword, wiped with a huge serving of ‘hindsight’.
    The blooding of younger players are not always immediately evident. WP will not have gained now by playing their youngsters, and ditto the Bulls. But come next year, they will surely fall back on Francois Venter or Berton Klaasen if the need arises.

    The other side of the sword is, that each province has consolidated on a player or two that indeed immediately show promise by blooding a younger palyer. Where would the following players have been if they didnt get the opportunity:
    Dimitri Catrakilis
    Marcell Coetzee
    Arno Botha
    Johan Goosen
    These are only single out players. What about kids that only get one or two games, where they do show promise but are developed more? I for sure think that Kleynhans, Sithole and Prinsloo will be looked into next year when voids needed to be filled again.

    And i could cast your memories back to the 2010 Super15 when the Sharks used a certain kid known as Lambie to fill in the fullback void.

    This whole scenario balances on hindsight. We sent a weakened/second/whatever team to the 3N, with the hope of resting players for the RWC. Now, in hindsight, we could have won the 3N if we used our frontline/star players…..and still lose to Aus in the quarter finals

  • Comment 26, posted at 02.11.11 10:47:01 by JustPlainSHARK Reply

  • So next year we could have said: 😛 in hindsight, it was great to blood these youngsters in last years CC.

  • Comment 27, posted at 02.11.11 10:51:30 by JustPlainSHARK Reply

  • @JustPlainSHARK (Comment 27) :
    even though we didnt reach the semi final.

  • Comment 28, posted at 02.11.11 10:52:45 by JustPlainSHARK Reply

  • @nimalen316 (Comment 17) : I would like to think that there is but in truth we are pretty bad at managing players in SA. We have the depth but are too scared to test the depth sometimes which results in this ‘depth’ not being match ready should they be needed.

  • Comment 29, posted at 02.11.11 11:05:44 by SheldonK Reply

  • @JustPlainSHARK (Comment 26) : @JustPlainSHARK (Comment 27) : @JustPlainSHARK (Comment 28) :

    I agree . what i am saying is that if you did not play your boks and still lost .. would you have said sure we blooded the youngsters .. OR would you have said : dam plum .. you saw what the boks did to the lions in the last round . we should have used the boks …

    its a hard call to make .. not easy by any stretch of our imagination

  • Comment 30, posted at 02.11.11 11:08:41 by Zibbie Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 30) : If we did not plead for youngster to be prepped for S15, yes…but we did!

  • Comment 31, posted at 02.11.11 11:12:01 by Ice Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 30) : @Ice (Comment 31) : The youngsters should have played earlier in the CC. I’m fine with the Boks playing the semi and the Final. Plum did the right thing there imo.

  • Comment 32, posted at 02.11.11 11:21:45 by Ben Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 32) : I agree with that . the boks would also generate more hype around the final and that is what we wanted . but then like you guys are saying Plum should not complain 😉

  • Comment 33, posted at 02.11.11 11:26:16 by Zibbie Reply
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  • In my opinion, this is how player management works at the Sharks:

    Scenario 1: Our coaches do not give young players opportunities at higher levels for fear that they are not match ready, but do not use opportunities to get them match ready because they are scared it will cost them in terms of results.

    Scenario 2: Because of above, key players are played into the ground. When they break down, non-match fit players are expected to step into the void, and when they fail, are roundly criticised and overlooked for further opportunities.

    I’ll admit that above is a “glass half empty” point of view, but there is at least some truth to it.

  • Comment 34, posted at 02.11.11 11:26:28 by Culling Song Reply
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    Culling Song
  • @Culling Song (Comment 34) : And its not only the young players that are a problem.

    We had centre problems throughout the season. Why didn’t they experiment with JLP there?

  • Comment 35, posted at 02.11.11 11:30:40 by Ben Reply
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  • @Zibbie (Comment 30) :

    I don’t think any of us are moaning about the youngster not being involved in the finals but more about them getting game time during the pool stages even if it was off the bench for 20 minutes in a couple of games.

  • Comment 36, posted at 02.11.11 11:31:22 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Culling Song (Comment 34) : I think there I a lot of truth to what you are saying.

  • Comment 37, posted at 02.11.11 11:32:10 by Ben Reply
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  • @Culling Song (Comment 34) : U are 100% correct!!

  • Comment 38, posted at 02.11.11 11:42:07 by SheldonK Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 2) : Agree

  • Comment 39, posted at 02.11.11 15:13:22 by Silver Fox Reply

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  • Nice one Rob. For me, its a clear-cut scenario – this season was a clear failure for the Sharks.

    Plumtree could (and should) have chosen to focus on player development this year, and the CC final would not have mattered. However, he didn’t choose to do that, and so a 20+ point snotting in the final certainly qualifies as a failure.

    I note some Sharks fans still choosing to fiddle while Rome burns, but anybody who chooses to see it can’t help but notice that the Sharks are poorly coached, lack variation or player development, and are absolutely dependent on individual brilliance to score points.

    I still support the Sharks whole-heartedly, but I’m hoping that Plumtree finds reason to leave soon. We are wasting a very talented squad of players under his very unsophisticated watch.

  • Comment 40, posted at 02.11.11 15:24:28 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • If John Mitchell can bring 110% out of average players, imagine what he can do with really talented players like Lambie and Bismark

  • Comment 41, posted at 02.11.11 16:19:32 by Mutley Reply
  • @Mutley (Comment 41) : amen

  • Comment 42, posted at 02.11.11 17:00:24 by robdylan Reply
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  • Think how far we would have lost without the boks.

  • Comment 43, posted at 02.11.11 17:51:16 by Honey Badger Reply

    Honey Badger
  • @Honey Badger (Comment 43) : 😉 I beg to differ badger 😉

  • Comment 44, posted at 03.11.11 07:47:56 by SharksRTB Reply

  • @Honey Badger (Comment 43) : I think the issue is that our team probably wasn’t well-enough coached to beat the Lions, regardless of whether we had Boks or not

  • Comment 45, posted at 03.11.11 08:10:51 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 45) : I agree and disagree with u there Rob! I feel overall the coaching was good and the gameplan best utilise the skills we have at the Sharks. But i feel that mayb selection and probably set moves were the 2 main weaknesses, and im talkign about over the whole season here not just the Currie Cup.

  • Comment 46, posted at 03.11.11 08:16:49 by SheldonK Reply

  • Come on guys, you truly believe that the scoreline reflects the game. Imo the difference between the teams was patience in the oppositions 22, we had our opportunities but did not convert into points. And to blame the coaches for silly mistakes is unreasonable.

    However, I will say that we need some fresh ideas in our coaching in terms of back line play.

  • Comment 47, posted at 03.11.11 10:26:06 by Bump Reply

  • @Bump: and home ground advantage was huge it seems in retrospect.

  • Comment 48, posted at 03.11.11 11:04:19 by bergshark Reply

  • Sean Everitt for backline coach. Bashford clearly lacks innovation.

  • Comment 49, posted at 04.11.11 07:39:53 by Predawn Reply

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  • @Predawn (Comment 49) : Every coach needs to refresh his ideas every so often and I just get the feeling that the Sharks forwards and backs are lacking a bit of innovation in terms of set moves. I honestly believe that Plum is the right man for head coach but the specialist forward and backline coaches need changing. The forwards are a bit lazy at the moment (watch a few games again and you will see) and the backs dont seem to run any angles,switches, even blocking runners…they just shift the ball wide.

  • Comment 50, posted at 04.11.11 08:24:41 by SheldonK Reply


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