And so my apathy makes a comeback


I have never been so uninterested in rugby as I have been between the end of the World Cup/Currie Cup and the start of the Super 15 tournament this year. I wasn’t really able to say why except to maybe suggest there was a little bit of rugby burnout after having watched every single game in the Sharks and Springboks tournaments the whole year. It made for more than forty four rugby matches analysed in excruciating detail. That also doesn’t include watching other random games of other teams. In the end, for both the Sharks (in the Super 15) and the Boks (in the World Cup) the referee decided to blow his own rules on the day to allow the other team more of an advantage and win the match.

Am I suggesting that shoddy refereeing cost the Sharks the game against the Crusaders? To be honest… no. The Crusaders would have won that game regardless of what the referee did, but it would have been more of a spectacle had he decided to be consistent in his rulings. He did cost the Springboks the game against the Wallabies with uneven calls in the rucks. Maybe it was frustration toward an environment where one individual could so influence the game. After all, I have noticed that I don’t watch the cricket or am so interested in the sport (as so many others also appear to be) after Hansiegate

Roll on the Currie Cup final with the Sharks playing against the Lions. Did the referee unfairly influence the game? No. And yet we still lost to a team which had less superstars than the Sharks supposedly had. It’s not a knock against the Lions, because they deserved to win. The Sharks arrived at the match probably expecting to be able to walk the result and in the end were humiliated by the Lions. Maybe it was this lackadaisical performance which frustrated me.

Ultimately, it meant that the off season wasn’t as frustrating as it usually had been for me. I was able to find other things to do and not be bothered with the lack of rugby. I wasn’t even concerned with the kick-off of the Super 15 when the Sharks took on the Bulls, a team who lost almost all of their superstar players. And guess what? We blow it and lose the game! In fact, the next time we won was two weeks later against the Lions who thumped us in the Currie Cup final. We won, but it was unconvincing, especially considering that the Lions had been hit heavily by injuries and had 15 players out injured. We beat the defending champions, the Reds, the next week but only after they went to a 17-0 lead and then lost their backline to injury in the second half.

Roll on, this last week and the game against the Waratahs. It was the best game of rugby we’ve played all year and we still lose. We were leading all the way through the game until the last three minutes before the Waratahs scored a try in the corner to steal the game. There have been many excuses, but that’s what they are – excuses. Was there an element of exhaustion from jet lag? Of course. But we lost the game because the coach had a brain explosion and made substitutions for the sake of substitutions. Our best defender and the player least affected by jet lag (at least visibly) was Meyer Bosman. What does John Plumtree (Dumbtree) do? He sends out the shepherd’s crook and yanks off Bosman for the defensively inept Marius Joubert. The man has the defensive nous of a wet tissue in a hurricane. After that the Waratahs were able to almost break our line at will and scored points a plenty. Could we have scored more points? Definitely. Our captain decided that instead of focusing on the basics and passing normally he wanted to throw passes out the back of his hand, which no one expected – not even his own team mates.

My solution:

  1. Chase Marius Joubert as far away from the team as possible – even into the sea so he has to swim back to South Africa; and
  2. Drop our illustrious captain until he learns to do the basics first.

 

It’s my believe, therefore, that my apathy, is due to my team’s failure to respect the game of rugby and the basics needed to play the game.

Getting Back into it

Getting Back into it

I have to admit that for the longest time after the World Cup last year I felt seriously uninterested in rugby.  Maybe it was just inevitable after a year in which rugby was completely oversaturated the sporting calender.  The 2012 version of the Super 15 starts on Friday when the Sharks take on the Bulls in Pretoria and up until Monday I wasn’t too interested or cared too much that it was about to start.  But this week, with the knowledge that rugby is starting again I’ve started to feel excited again.

Eastern Province Kings

Luke Watson - future captain of the Kings

It’s going to be a very interesting year indeed as whichever South African rugby team that ends up at the bottom of the South African log will be ejected from the competition to make space for the Eastern Province Kings.  Should this happen?  Absolutely not! All of the teams in the competition are top flight rugby teams in the premier division of the Currie Cup, while the Kings couldn’t even win in the First Division.  In terms of strength, they don’t belong in the competition.

So far are they being forced in?  It’s an easy answer – political expediency.  The Eastern Cape is seen as the area which develops the most black rugby players.  I suppose that could be understood to give transformation a bit of a boost.

The laughable thing is that when the question was posed how they are going to be competitive in the premier regional rugby competition in the world, the answer was that they were going overseas to get players who were coming to the end of their contracts in the Northern Hemisphere.  What happened to all of the development?  All they’re doing is grabbing players back from the north – many of whom are white.  So much for the vaunted transformation.

Changes

Captain Keegan

Gone is Captain John Smit and the old man at the back, Stefan Terblanche.  Keegan Daniel has been selected as the captain for the team for the season with Bismarck du Plessis as his vice captain.

Players like Tim Whitehead and Riaan Viljoen who will add some strings to the Sharks bow.  Tim Whitehead is a particularly pleasant boon to receive as one of the Sharks’ biggest areas of weakness in the past few years have been the centres.  Tim impressed so much that he has hopped ahead of some of the more senior players to start on Friday against the Bulls.  JP Pietersen, our star wing has also shifted in to cover outside centre and with his pace can make life very difficult for the opposition.

Riaan Viljoen, a fullback with a booming boot, played age group rugby for the Sharks before moving on after finding his way into the senior team blocked by Frans Steyn.  Steyn has moved on and Viljoen has come back.  He slots straight into the starting team at fullback on Friday and will be sure to send great return kicks against the Bulls who love the tactical kicking game.

It’s back.