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This jersey demands more pride


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Vodacom Cup on 20 Apr 2015 at 10:02
Tagged with : , , , , ,

It’s time for the perennial Vodacom Cup shambles to come to a definitive end. Friday night’s frankly humiliating 36-13 (five try to one) drubbing at the hands of the SWD Eagles simply has to be the final straw and as Sharks fans, we can no longer sit idly by as week after week, players take the field in Sharks jerseys to which they are not prepared to do justice.

It’s a somewhat ironic side-note, of course, that this Sharks XV played half the match wearing Eagles away jerseys, due to some sort of mix-up that saw their match jerseys delayed in Durban. We’re told that the issue was caused by SAA neglecting to pack the bags onto their flight, but the point is probably moot. I’m sure Eagles fans would have felt that the Sharks XV’s performance didn’t do their jersey justice either.

Let’s just do a quick comparison in terms of playing resources here. The SWD Eagles team boasted just two players with Super Rugby experience; midweek Bok Davon Raubenhiemer (who played a few games for the Cheetahs) and former Sharks man Luzuko Vulindlu (two caps in 2009). Compare that to a Sharks team including two test Springboks (Stephan Lewies and Tonderai Chavhanga) and four other players with Super Rugby caps, including Kyle Cooper and Dale Chadwick, between them capped 70 times. The pack the Sharks selected would not look out of place in Currie Cup rugby; it’s simple inconceivable, based on talent alone, that the Eagles could live with them, much less hand them a 20-point hammering.

We cannot look to a lack of talent in this side – and to be honest, we can’t blame coaching either. Ryan Strudwick has shown the ability to take a group of young players and turn them into title winners by doing exactly that in this year’s Varsity Shield. Why can we not replicate that success in the Vodacom Cup, with Strudwick (as head of junior rugby) having the cream of young players in the province at his disposal, players with whom he is working week in and week out through the Grey Squad system?

The answer is simple. Strudwick isn’t given any freedom to select the team he wants to – the team that has been training all week – due to the strange imperative to accommodate discarded Super Rugby squad members in his team each week. As a development competition, the Vodacom Cup is meant to be about unearthing new talent and allowing it to grow, with a view to Currie Cup selection later in the year; instead, the Sharks seem to be using it as a bizarre disincentive to senior players already low on confidence and motivation after losing out on Super Rugby.

We’ve seen time and again that senior players dropped to Vodacom Cup add absolutely nothing to the side. Let’s at least foster a little pride in this team by allowing Strudwick to build his own team, establish continuity and ultimately help to secure the future of Sharks Rugby. As head of junior rugby, that must surely be his reason for being? It’s time to let him get on with his job.



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