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Xerox Golden Lions 10 10 48
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At sixes and sevens

Written by Pierre McLeod (pierre_mackie)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 4 May 2015 at 09:39
Tagged with : , , ,

To be “at sixes and sevens” is an idiom used to describe the Sharks’ defensive system in Super Rugby.

No not really, but I had you there for a second. To be “at sixes and sevens” is actually a British idiom used to describe a state of confusion or disarray, a lot like the Sharks’ defence this year.

Defence is often measured by the amount of tries you concede in a game or a season. The Sharks are currently tenth on the Super Rugby log after eleven matches, with four wins and seven losses. They have scored 216 points which includes twenty two tries and conceded 289 points which includes thirty one tries. The only other team which has conceded that amount of tries are the Reds who are second last on the log.

The Sharks suffered their seventh loss on the weekend when they faced the Highlanders in Dunedin. They conceded 7 tries in their 48 – 15 defeat, which become a bit embarrassing for the visitors as it looked like the Sharks were a few players less on the field. Note that no cards were awarded to the Sharks, a huge improvement on previous games.

A few weeks earlier the Sharks conceded 8 tries in another embarrassing defeat to Crusaders in a 52 – 10 loss at home. In two previous games the Sharks conceded 4 tries against the Bulls and 4 tries against the Cheetahs in their opener.

As much as the onus is on the players, as they are the ones on the field and making the tackles, or in this case missing the tackles, there are also people behind the scenes making sure the players know what to do as soon as they run onto the field.

At the start of the 2015 season the Sharks signed Michael Horak as their defence coach, after he was released from his five-year contract at the Eastern Province Kings after just one season.

The Kings conceded 53 tries in their first season back in the Currie Cup Premier Division after a twelve year spell in the B Division. The second most tries conceded were from Griquas, 41. In Horak’s defence, using the Kings is probably not the best example, but taking a team from conceding 22 tries in the whole of the 2014 Super Rugby season to 31 after just 11 games in 2015 is a huge concern.

Defence is not the only problem at the Sharks, and getting a new defence coach or head coach might not even be the answer, as discipline and what seems like a lack of passion and eagerness can also contribute to their current poor form.

Taking it out on the players and pointing fingers will not help anyone at this stage, but something drastically needs to be done and if it is as simple as replacing players that are not adding value or replacing a member of the coaching staff so be it. At the end of the day it’s not personal, it’s rugby, and no one wants to support a losing team.


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