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Loftus swansongs aplenty

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Bulls, Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 15 Jun 2011 at 08:07
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday’s big derby at Loftus between the Bulls and the Sharks will, in all likelihood, mark the end of the Super Rugby season for whichever team loses. This implies that whatever the result, their will be one or two big name players who won’t be seen in their team’s respective colours again.

Let’s just caveat this by saying that, should the Brumbies pull off the impossible and beat the Waratahs in Sydney, none of this will come to pass, as both the Sharks and the Bulls will then live to play at least one more Super Rugby game each this season. Should the more likely scenario unfold, though, then Loftus will certainly mark the end the road for a few Super Rugby careers.

On the Bulls side, Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw, Gary Botha and Fourie du Preez will all be playing their final games at Loftus, with the former retiring after the World Cup and the others all set to play in either France or Japan next season. You don’t often find quite so many stalwarts playing their final match all at the same time and you can assure that the Bulls will be extra fired-up for the occasion in order to give these boys a proper send-off. The stadium will also be packed to the rafters by the blue horde, determined to come ou in force to see their heroes one last time.

For the Sharks, things are less cut and dried. We know that Steven Sykes has probably already played his last game in black and white, since he’s unlikely to be passed fit for Saturday’s game and will leave for Ireland after the Super Rugby season. Another factor that has so far gone unnoticed, though, is that both John Smit and Stefan Terblanche could potentially be playing their last games in Sharks colours this weekend as well, if the Sharks do lose the match.

Smit is widely tipped to join English side Saracens for a final hurrah next season, while Terblanche is said to be weighing up an offer from Japan.

The Sharks would do well to be mindful of the Currie Cup Final in 1999. That game marked an emotional Kings Park farewell for a number of Natal greats, including Gary Teichmann and coach Ian McIntosh. While the home side allowed themselves to be swept up in the sentiment of an emotional occasion, the visiting Lions concentrated on the rugby and came away with an unexpected, although thoroughly deserved victory. While there is no doubting the Bulls experience and professionalism in 2011, it’s nevertheless possible that that the inevitable festivities and sideshows might prove distracting to the home side, giving the visitors just the slightest edge as a result.


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