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Back to basics: Secure the fortress


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 9 Sep 2015 at 09:58
Tagged with : , , , , ,

A good friend whose opinion on rugby I value highly laid out a few home truths to me regarding the Sharks. I’ve been mulling over some of these thoughts for the past few days and feel ready to turn them into some hard advice for our struggling team – for what that’s worth.

Professional rugby is actually very simple, when it comes down to it. In order to be successful, you need to win and not winning can never be considered a good enough result. There is no such thing as “losing pretty” or “applauding the character” of a side that loses. Do that and you’re only reinforcing the message that it’s OK to lose. It really isn’t and it’s time for me to concede that, whatever else Jake White did wrong, he at least understood that fundamental concept. Talking about team culture is all well and good, but accepting defeat can very quickly become ingrained as part of a culture and at the end of that slippery slide lies the sort of mediocrity (and acceptance of mediocrity) that was as Sharks fans will never accept.

With a big test against a big foe coming up this weekend – the Pumas and EP, against whom we’ve struggled in recent weeks are not, in all fairness, the teams against which the Sharks should be comparing themselves – it’s time for the Sharks to start the process of winning back respect. With a measly 38% win record against fellow South African teams in Super Rugby this year, coupled with three home losses in six starts against said teams (including the Currie Cup game against the Lions), it’s safe to say that the hard-won crown of best team in the land has well and truly slipped and while we can chose to pat ourselves on the back when we struggle to beat the Pumas, it’s results against the likes of Western Province, the Bulls and the Lions that define how good we are as a team.

Now any coach will tell you that it’s impossible to win every game and we certainly don’t expect that, but what we do expect is that at the very least, we will find a way to win at home against the top teams. Surely “pride in the jersey” has to be a key part of our team culture and part of that pride must stem from your home ground being your fortress – a place where you simply will not countenance losing? There’s been far too much losing (and acceptance of losing) at Kings Park this season and it’s time for that to stop.

As my friend pointed out, though, the Sharks at present look like a team “looking for treasure with only half of a map” and don’t seem completely sure exactly what they are trying to achieve when they take the field. My advice is again rather simple; go back to basics. Make 90% of your tackles for 80 minutes (something we have still not managed to do this season), disrupt the opposition’s momentum and take the points that come your way. Do that and we can record a win against Western Province – a first, but crucial win, on the long road to redemption for this team.



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