The Quirk

Where is the joy?

Written by Ryan Quirk (The Quirk)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 7 Apr 2015 at 19:43
Tagged with : ,

I’ve been watching the Cell C Sharks play for the last few years with a sense of dread. It’s a foreboding that I haven’t been able to place. I’ve noted the grim determination on the players’ faces. I’ve noted the dwindling crowds at Kings Park. I’ve noticed how tense the coaching box is becoming. I’ve noticed the lines on players’ faces becoming more furrowed and I’ve noticed frowns take the place of smiles when young stars make their debuts.

I’ve long sensed an undercurrent of unease built up by years of pressure to perform, pressure to be harder and stronger than the opposition, pressure of a self-inflicted will to win that no player can keep up forever.

It’s evidenced by simple mistakes that skilled players make; JP Pietersen, renowned worldwide for his try scoring prowess dropping a ball with an open try-line his mercy, Frans Steyn lifting Aaron Cruden’s legs in a tackle and Bismarck du Plessis and Jean Deysel’s complete meltdown moments in the heat of battle. These are all experienced players, who, in previous seasons have excelled at try scoring, keeping discipline and winning games for the Sharks on a regular basis. So why now are they suddenly villains? Why are they cracking at key moments?

It is because, after all this time, the pressure of all that grimness has finally cracked the diamond that it had spent so much time creating. It started with the changes in the coaches box, started by the unceremonious sacking of John Plumtree, the last of the true Sharks legends to coach the team, to the hiring and departure of Jake the Snake White, to the hiring of club coaches and a brilliant technical analyst, but perhaps not the best man to bring a team together in Gary Gold. It’s been building, simmering and stirring waiting for the perfect moment to shatter and reveal the sharp uncomfortable truth.

That perfect moment came against the Crusaders after being started two weeks earlier against the Chiefs. With four key men out in Bismarck, Frans, JP Pietersen and Pieter Steph du Toit, Jean Deysel, captain on the day, snapped and threw his knee at another man’s head. Suddenly the only leader left on the field was Pat Lambie, who then took a blow to the neck that is going to keep out for six weeks.

So what is the answer? How can the Sharks stop the cracked diamond formed by years of undue pressure and unnecessary grimness from crumbling to dust?

Somebody needs to bring the joy back to Sharks rugby.

Where did that joy go? It’s been absent for some time. What happened to the great atmosphere on the outer fields at Kings Park on game day? It just isn’t the same anymore? It didn’t matter if the Sharks were first or last, there was always a vibe where fans from both sides of the encounter would mingle, braai and be merry. What happened to the joy on the field? What happened to the smiles on the players faces? The one team who epitomise this is the Sharks next opponents. The Lions are that team and the Sharks would do well to look in their direction and see what they are doing right.

That’s where it starts, in my book. The coaches and team leaders need to re-discover why they do what they do and take that to the team. It’s not all about winning at all costs. That is a Nazi way of thinking. It’s about playing for each other, for the fans, for the love of the game. I believe if that happens, the results will take care of themselves, the fans will come back to Kings Park and perhaps most importantly, the players will again love the game they play.


  • Sigh.

  • Comment 1, posted at 07.04.15 20:13:03 by pastorshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld pastorshark
  • I am missing the joy. And I missed it not just on the field, but the whole experience was a bit gloom on Saturday…before and afterwards. as I saod before, even Sharky lacked sparkle!

  • Comment 2, posted at 07.04.15 20:28:58 by bokbok Reply
  • I don’t agree,what’s made it more difficult to support the Sharks and hence the empty rinky dink is the fact that the quality of the core product,rugby,has been on the decline since 2010,don’t mention CC trophy that’s just a blooding ground now,in SR its been downward hence the end result of unhappiness

  • Comment 3, posted at 07.04.15 21:06:55 by benji Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • I have with time grew a bit hesitant to praise the Sharks or show allegiance through games like Superbru. I have a Sharks jersey, I have caps , t-shirts, golf shirts, shorts and stickers on my car showing where my support lies.
    So why have I stopped playing Superbru or praising them then? With the amount of changes and player acquisition the past year or two, I could not foresee any other outcome than sorrow.
    It’s often said (boasted) that we only rrecruit 9-12 junior players a year while the Bulls recruit 30 odd. Why? How many of these 9-12 contracted juniors get the opportunity to ply their trade at Super Rugby level, while Sharks contract the likes of Stevens, Mouritz, Waylon, Wilson….and keep guys like Odwa and Wentzel around? I am not saying they aren’t any good, but they keep youngsters out. So in effect we recruit only say 10 youngsters because we can not foresee to play/use more than ten of them and we need the rest of the budget to pay retirement packages. I want to see guys like Sithole, Esterhuizen, Thomas, Ungerer, Cronje and Zeilinga get more game time. And I am only naming a few.

  • Comment 4, posted at 07.04.15 21:20:35 by JustPlainSHARK Reply
  • And then I am not even going to go into the coaching structures currently employed. They have qualities of their own, but the appointments made then, did not convince me. We have become a rescue base.

  • Comment 5, posted at 07.04.15 21:25:10 by JustPlainSHARK Reply
  • The Joy left with Plumtree. Look at the Hurricanes now!

  • Comment 6, posted at 07.04.15 22:47:33 by [email protected] Reply
  • Holy hell. You know we are in a dark place when we miss Plumtree this much! Yes he was a decent coach, but he did show he’s limited and is better suited where he is now, as assistant coach. Also remember the killing of the British marine dude by those thugs didn’t help the atmosphere much. Buy you’re right, Rugby is supposed to be fun and they should try to bring it back. Kanko always looks like he’s having a blast out there, hoping he rubs off on a few guys.

  • Comment 7, posted at 08.04.15 02:35:15 by Dragnipur Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Dragnipur
  • I agree Ryan. Well written.

  • Comment 8, posted at 08.04.15 08:02:26 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • The commitment and passion (or lack thereof) from these ‘SuperStars’ is the reason why I REFUSE to go and watch them at Suncorp (Brisbane resident) for the first time since I arrived here.

    I wouldn’t pay money to watch a bunch of hollywood stars throw tantrums and dish up the most repulsive brand of rugby known to man.

    – they should look to the Lions to see how it is done. Nowhere near the calibre of players (although I do feel they are underestimated) and yet they lay it out there every game.

  • Comment 9, posted at 08.04.15 08:15:15 by pienaar111 Reply
  • sharks imho are just trying too hard! Theyve had the most injuries out of all the sides in the competition And probably the most disruptions. Theyve had a couple of poor tmo calls which have stunted them getting out of the blocks. weve had one or two yellow cards that should not have been yellow and in both red card games the sharks were playing against teams that to be fair were not really interested in playing rugby … i thought dysel was very unlucky. He made contact sure but i dont believe there was intent.
    so where to from here? We are a team that is hurting and to be fair we have too much quality to continue losing. We need hewett vack sooner than later because our lineouts are not competitive at the moment and have robbed us of momentum. We need kanko on the bench to balance our back 3 And we need consistancy in the backline.
    The hurricanes have played well but are not made a major step up that would hale a plumtree super run. Theres nothing wrong with our coaches … its our implementation that is the problem. Jake white played our players into the ground and to be honest we are still reaping the results of this. You only have to look at a player like beast and his form over the last year or two to see this.

  • Comment 10, posted at 08.04.15 08:21:25 by byron Reply
  • I fully agree that the spirit vacated the Shark tank along with John Plumtree when he was unceremoniously dumped like a piece of unwanted garbage. John Plumtree was a legend at the Sharks and you don’t treat a legend the way Plum was treated. At the time many ex senior players spoke out in defence of Plum, but were poo-poo’d by those in charge. Plum was not perfect by any means, but you could see the players would put their bodies on the line for him.

    When BMH was recruited by John Smit fresh from his position as Hilton College rugby coach, I questioned whether he was the man for the job. I was told in no uncertain terms to wind my neck in as John Smit knows what he is doing and BMH would grow into a great coach, because after all he wasn’t just a schoolboy coach, he had also coached club rugby and junior Sharks teams in the past. Well I’m afraid that has come back to bite us big time.

  • Comment 11, posted at 08.04.15 08:42:47 by jonnow Reply
  • @byron (Comment 10) :


  • Comment 12, posted at 08.04.15 08:50:05 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 12) : was it the bit about needing Edwin Hewitt (a slow 4 who left a year ago) back to fix our lineouts?

  • Comment 13, posted at 08.04.15 08:58:16 by robdylan Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 13) :

    Amongst some other things, yes 😆

  • Comment 14, posted at 08.04.15 08:59:51 by Morné Reply
  • John Smit is trying really hard to get the vibe back, but he’s only doing anything at the outer fields and the problem doesn’t lie there. Those people have continued coming, because nothing has changed for them. John needs to look at all the cars he is losing because of the massive white elephant standing where those cars usually parked. We are now scattered all over the place and while it’s a fine place to park our cars, it is not a place to enjoy an braai and the vibe around the game.

    John is wasting his time vamping things up around the outer fields. So he’ll keep about 5 thousand fans. Most of his fans are having to look for a spot elsewhere, this weekend, the parking I usually go to, was commandeered by a soccer event and I had to pay 50 bucks for my parking and it took 30 minutes to get in.

    Does he even know about these things? Or is he just taking care of those people he is shaking hands with?

  • Comment 15, posted at 08.04.15 09:10:02 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Letgo
  • It might be an unpopular view, but I think Kings Park is a fossil and would better serve the Sharks if it were knocked down and turned into a multi level parking lot for Superugby games and test matches hosted at the New fancy stadium across the road. I’m a season ticket holder, over 1.85m tall, and not a contortionist. Every game I sit with my knees uncomfortably wedged against the seat in front of mine. It’s impossible to go to the toilet without making fifty people do a stilted and unplanned Mexican wave punctuated with “sorry” “excuse me” “sorry” “watch your feet there” “catch the ball man!” Etc

  • Comment 16, posted at 08.04.15 09:31:19 by The Quirk Reply
    The Quirk
  • Not sure if anyone has said this before but to me the Sharks seem to be a “broken” team at the moment. Almost like you would see with some kids when their parents get a divorce. They act out and performance at school starts to suffer. I know that is a strange way to put things but the team in essence is a family. Perhaps the disruptions and lack of continuity is starting to take it’s toll. Coaches that keeps getting changed and players leaving etc. All I know is that the team is not a happy one at the moment and I hope things change soon. The only question is how? A team get together… a place of “safety” where the players could perhaps speak their minds without fear of being crucified (Not saying that happens) about their opinion. Open minds and everyone able to talk on the same level.

    I don’t know exactly but something has to happen before the entire team cracks.

  • Comment 17, posted at 08.04.15 09:54:31 by Farlington Reply
  • We need to seperate the PR side from the field side, if you catch my drift. The players must focus on the rugby and leave attracting the fans back to people who know what they’re doing.

    I always enjoyed the vibe, so we need to get that back ASAP.

  • Comment 18, posted at 08.04.15 09:55:00 by StevieS Reply
  • Too many coaches with too many ideas…not 2 simple game plans for each weather condition…players look unsure because they are unsure. Top players have too much influence which leads to lack of discipline. Very few youngsters given a look hence the lack of hunger throughout the Union. Zero club payers given a look in despite or club teams performing well over the last couple years. As for the atmosphere at kings park…the drinks ban and other measures have made life pretty average on the outer fields hence the drop in attendence

  • Comment 19, posted at 08.04.15 10:37:35 by SheldonK Reply
  • @SheldonK (Comment 19) : All valid points. Let’s wait to see what they do to address them.

  • Comment 20, posted at 08.04.15 10:52:18 by StevieS Reply
  • I must admit the joy and pride I felt when watching the Sharks play is missing for me too. Which leaves me to ask, if something makes you unhappy and you are not obligated to do it. Why not stop doing it, and stop being unhappy?

    Are we all battered wives who stay even though our own heroes seem to not care at all?
    I must be brutally honest I have heard Deysel and Bismarck say those same words make those same lame-assed apologies before.
    And now their words are as empty as a politicians promises.
    They disrespect their team mates and they disrespect us who root for them, take abuse for them take time and money out of our lives to give support to them.
    I used to worry what would happen when Bismarck, Deysel and co ever leave the Sharks. Lately I’m thinking that it might not be all that bad if they do. Sure we will struggle a little without them at first but after that….?

  • Comment 21, posted at 08.04.15 12:58:04 by coolfusion Reply
  • I think they all are to much involved in other things but rugby, like TV commercials and on Saturday they played in a different jersey without even a Sharks logo.The franchise and management should focus on rugby first and then everything else.Glory boys on TV adverts will not win trophies.

  • Comment 22, posted at 08.04.15 15:03:08 by Mozshark Reply
  • I must say that, the other day when I took my son to watch the Force game, despite the frustrating game, we enjoyed the occasion immensely! My son loved being there, seeing his heroes up close, being waved at by Lwazi Mvovo, having fireworks go off, the Sharks winning. He just enjoyed being there. Maybe we should just chill a bit and simply enjoy being there. For me the much debated culture of the Sharks could always be summarised with that immortal phrase “For the love of the game” – maybe both players and fans can learn that from the youngsters again!

  • Comment 23, posted at 08.04.15 21:41:38 by pastorshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld pastorshark

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