A season to forget

Written by Maria Delport (Letgo)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 18 Jul 2013 at 09:38
Tagged with : , , , ,

It’s hard to take a recap of this season and not feel more than a little disappointed. A season that started off with so much promise went pear shaped pretty early on and this time around, even though at times the team showed the same commitment as last year, we couldn’t turn it around.

The Sharks started off the season with a relatively clean bill of health. Bismarck du Plessis was out before the season started with the serious injury he picked up playing for the Boks. Willem Alberts was the other Bok that we would have been without for the first few weeks of the season. Aside from those two and Dale Chadwick every other player jogged out in the Sharks’ first warm up game of the season. In this game we picked up two more injuries. Our captain would not be available for the first few games and Tim Whitehead broke his arm, an injury that would turn out to be one of the most influential of them all, especially considering that we were expecting him back before the tour, then on the tour, then after the tour, then after the international break. Starting off the season with only 5 injuries though, was not too bad for a team with the type of depth that the Sharks have. The injury toll quickly started building up though and before we knew it we had 10 and more players out.

It really turned out to be a shocker of a season for injuries, so much so that one must question how much of it is just plain bad luck and just how much of it comes down to other factors. Conditioning? Player fatigue? Or even a specific game plan? We might not be able to determine the exact cause for each but surely one would have to look into it given the absolute monster amount of injuries to specifically the Sharks team this year.

Just to put it in perspective, let me throw a couple of numbers out there for you to consider. The Sharks used a total of 43 players this season, of those 43, 24 were injured at some point during this season. 17 players were unavailable for 5 games or more and 6 of those for 10 games or more. Combined, these 24 players were unavailable for 165 games, which in itself doesn’t mean anything, but gives me the opportunity to throw out an interesting average. Based on that number, the Sharks were without 24 players for an average of 7 games, or 12 players for 14 games. (I attached a table showing all the injured players, and for which games they were unavailable).

Having said all this though there were still some games that the Sharks dropped that we all felt they should have won. The Brumbies walked over an almost full-strength Sharks side as early as round 4. Then in Round 10, at home, when the injuries were still reasonable, we couldn’t manage to squeeze out a win against the Cheetahs. Then there was the comeback against the Highlanders that proved that we should have won, but still handed a team their first win of the competition in round 12. What about both games against the Bulls. The season was over, or so everyone said, but had we managed one more penalty in both those games we would have snuck into yet another play-off game. So even with the injuries, there were just too many games that lacked more than just a couple of unavailable players.

We can’t forget John Plumtree though can we? This was his last season, not a great season to go out on, especially since the chance of winning this season was made increasingly difficult by bad luck in injuries. At best we could maybe have just gotten ourselves into a play-off, but we all know you don’t win this competition if you can’t manage to secure home games. Now we’re hearing from certain circles that the letting go of Plumtree was a big mistake and unjust and whatever else. Plum may have been able to make a fight of it with all his players available, he may have been able to go out with a bang, but I still believe that John Smit made a good decision. After six years, if anything, just for a bit of a change.

Though it was time, it’s still bittersweet for me. I feel like we have gone through a lot with Plumtree and he always put his heart into coaching the Sharks. I appreciated that and I will remember him fondly. He will always be the coach that put a trophy back in the cabinet after a 12 year drought.

As for this season, I’m glad to move on and look forward to a fresh start for the Sharks.

Date Game
Tim Whitehead 23-Feb 1 – 16 16
Dale Chadwick 23-Feb 1 – 16 16
Bismarck du Plessis 23-Feb 1 – 13 13
Butch James 23-Feb 1 – 13 13
Ryan Kankowski
Willem Alberts 23-Feb 1 – 10 10
Louis Ludik 05-Apr 6 – 13 8
Andries Coetzee 27-Apr 9 – 16 8
Allen Dell 27-Apr 9 – 16 8
Paul Jordaan 04-May 10 – 16 7
Cobus Reinach 04-May 10 – 16 7
Francois Steyn 10-May 11 – 16 6
Jacques Botes 09-Apr 9 – 13 5
Beast Mtawarira 27-Apr 9 – 13 5
Lwazi Mvovo 05-Apr 6 – 10 5
Craig Burden 17-May 12 – 16 5
Anton Bresler 3 Mar, 25 May 5, 13 – 16 5
JP Pietersen 27-Apr 9, 13 – 15 4
Keegan Daniel 23-Feb 1 – 3 & 15 4
Jean Deysel 16-Mar 4 – 7 3
Pieter-Steph du Toit 26-May 14 – 16 3
Patrick Lambie 16 1
Meyer Bosman 26-May 13 – 15 3


  • Hectic, that’s a lot of starting players missing a lot of games. 😯

  • Comment 1, posted at 18.07.13 09:46:14 by FireTheLooser Reply
  • Jeez that’s quite a list.

    What will be very very interesting is how many different combinations played during the season.
    Ie, how many back 3 combinations were there, how many centre pairings were there, how many half back pairings, loosies, front row etc etc.

    Those will be telling stats.
    In fact, I think I might just have to do the excersise myself when Ive got the time.

  • Comment 2, posted at 18.07.13 09:57:56 by John Galt Reply
    John Galt
  • Nice artical Letgo. Lets just hope our CC season shows more promise. I am actually a little excited about our campaign. bring it on!

  • Comment 3, posted at 18.07.13 09:59:51 by The Hobbit Reply
    The Hobbit
  • Thanks for the article Letgo, you give our annus horribilis a very balanced view. I think the reason that all Shark fans are so disappointed with the way our season turned out is because our expectations were so high at the start of the season. Apart from Bissie and Alberts, who we thought would return mid season, we had the best squad of players we have ever had. Plus the Sharks finished off the 2012 season playing an awesome brand of running rigby that we thought would continue in 2013. I wonder if any S15 team would have done any better than the Sharks did this year with the same run of injuries.

  • Comment 4, posted at 18.07.13 10:00:39 by jonnow Reply

  • @The Hobbit (Comment 3) : I am too. I am excited for a fresh approach as well as seeing what kind of rugby the Sharks are going to be playing.

  • Comment 5, posted at 18.07.13 10:18:22 by lostfish Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter Competition Winner
  • @lostfish (Comment 5) : fingers crossed we get attractive, running and attacking Rugby.

  • Comment 6, posted at 18.07.13 10:30:35 by The Hobbit Reply
    The Hobbit
  • @The Hobbit (Comment 6) : Like this?? http://youtu.be/aUmkszso4Pw

  • Comment 7, posted at 18.07.13 10:34:02 by lostfish Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter Competition Winner
  • @lostfish (Comment 7) : exactly like that but in 1080p please.

  • Comment 8, posted at 18.07.13 10:44:54 by The Hobbit Reply
    The Hobbit
  • @lostfish (Comment 7) : how was that first try of Joubert’s?

  • Comment 9, posted at 18.07.13 10:45:37 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Dale Chadwick. 😆

  • Comment 10, posted at 18.07.13 10:47:25 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 10) : ag, it’s just so nice to have you back 🙂

  • Comment 11, posted at 18.07.13 11:22:18 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Nice one Letgo.

    The thing with the injuries is that they were always on the cards since we depended solely on our big ball-carriers to get over the advantage line.

  • Comment 12, posted at 18.07.13 11:50:08 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 12) : and on one single player to make our entire backline “sparkle”

  • Comment 13, posted at 18.07.13 11:55:48 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @Big Fish (Comment 12) : Don’t really buy that argument. Maybe true for Alberts and Deysel, but does not explain the injuries to Whitehead,Bismarck, Butch, Ludick, Jordaan, Reinach, Frans Steyn, Lwazi, JP,Lambie or Meyer Bosman.

  • Comment 14, posted at 18.07.13 12:11:58 by jonnow Reply

  • That list doesn’t even include guys like Marius Joubert and other Vodacom Cup team players that we couldn’t call up.

  • Comment 15, posted at 18.07.13 12:49:12 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • @robdylan (Comment 13) : Are you referring to Tim? or Lambie?

  • Comment 16, posted at 18.07.13 12:52:18 by Uli Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
    Uli Boelie
  • @Uli (Comment 16) : If I’m not mistaken it was reported that Tim was supposed to give sparkle to the backline.

  • Comment 17, posted at 18.07.13 12:58:36 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • When Tim Whitehead was playing last year the Sharks backline did sparkle 😉

  • Comment 18, posted at 18.07.13 13:08:56 by jonnow Reply

  • @Uli (Comment 16) : Tim

  • Comment 19, posted at 18.07.13 13:42:14 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @jonnow (Comment 18) : And he did that mainly by attacking the defensive line hard and straightening the attack.Not just receiving the ball then running into the closest defenders but actually running at their outside shoulders.

  • Comment 20, posted at 18.07.13 14:20:59 by KingRiaan Reply

  • @KingRiaan (Comment 20) : And squeezing tht pass of his through a key hole, drawing two or three defenders and putting his outside centre and wing into space.

  • Comment 21, posted at 18.07.13 14:30:43 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 17) : @robdylan (Comment 19) : Just making sure 😉

    @jonnow (Comment 18) : He really did make a huge difference to the backs. I really hope his arm heals well and hes back on form soon.

  • Comment 22, posted at 18.07.13 14:57:15 by Uli Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
    Uli Boelie
  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 21) : considering, there is not really another center who can do this.

  • Comment 23, posted at 18.07.13 14:58:10 by Uli Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
    Uli Boelie
  • Exactly as that has been a big problem for the Sharks for a number of seasons in lacking good no 12 & 13’s

  • Comment 24, posted at 18.07.13 16:18:16 by benji Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @jonnow (Comment 14) :
    Yes it does. Most of those injuries were contact related.

  • Comment 25, posted at 18.07.13 18:02:48 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 25) : Really? :mrgreen: Contact related?
    No way 😯
    In a sport like rugby?

  • Comment 26, posted at 19.07.13 00:15:33 by jonnow Reply


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