Editors Note


Volume 4, Week 32

Editors Note

Brilliant!     Once a year, this rugby writer forsakes the game they play in heaven to join a select group of men for an annual golf tour to some prize destination in South Africa. Rugby is not forgotten in fact it becomes one of the most flogged subjects but primarily shooting the lowest score with the biggest headache is the aim of the game.

This year, the golf tour just happens to be visiting Natal and on the subject of one of the most beautiful provinces in the country – what is happening down there with the rugby? The Sharks’ fortunes have taken a worse nosedive than the South African cricket side. The weekly Sharkmail, an excellent supporter’s mail, ironically resort to golf analogy to describe the dire straights in which the ‘team of the nineties’ found themselves at present. 

The problems may be manifold and may have begun with Butch James’ injury at the end of the Super. The talented pivot is the axis of the Sharks team along with long time scrumhalf, Craig Davidson but with the latter also out of the running times is tough in Durban. The more obvious option is that coach Kevin Putt is struggling to bring out the best in his players i.e. disciplined, hard graft with a proper work ethic. The players may be just as much to blame but as these things go in professional spo rt, the buck stops with the coach. Somebody should stop the coach…..

The Blue Bulls march on in imperious form as displayed in a very entertaining match against neighbours, the Lions. The high scoring match accentuated the strike power on offer in the Currie Cup with excellent tries being scored by both teams. Of course this is what supporters pay to see but one of the better tries for this closet Bulls supporter was Ettienne Botha’s ‘rip it and score it’ behind the Lions goal line. For those readers who did not see, the ball was in the Lions goal area when one of t heir players controlled it and attempted to dot down. Botha was at hand and tackled the player but in the process, concentrating on the ball, ripped it out of the unfortunate Lion’s hands and scored a try. It was great presence of mind from the centre, who is having a wonderful season and contributed to his hat trick.

The log is beginning to take shape and the semi-finals seem to be between the likes of the Blue Bulls, Cheetahs, WP and the Lions. The Blue Bulls have secured a home final and the second look likely to go to the Lions as they have the two ‘easier’ games than say WP who have the sharks and the Bulls in successive weeks to contend with…. So WP and Cheetahs are to fight out for the dubious honour of meeting the Bulls at Loftus – for self preservation in the competition, that is enough incentive to fin ish third.

Enjoy the coming weekend of rugby, this supporter will be treading the fairways of Zimbali, Prince’s Grant and the world renowned Durban Country Club. Fore!


Ps: due to 'technical problems' there will be no quotes in this edition.


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That Sinking Feeling by Desmond Organ
Saturday afternoon 26 September 2004 must have been quite an extraordinary day for the loyal Sharks supporters across the country and indeed the World. Few of the younger generation will remember the days when the team from Durban had to be content with play off matches in order to play at the highest levels of the Currie Cup structure. Some of the more mature supporters will have been wondering if all the fanfare of the 1990’s was finally at an end.

It has indeed been a very long time since the Sharks have not contested a semi final of the Currie Cup, trust me the miracle scenarios for qualification will not come to fruition this coming weekend. The best thing that the Sharks can look forward to is a Super 12 season in which they will display what for many is the resources that nobody else found the time or desire to invest in. There is always the faint chance that the youngsters that have been acquired are part of some long term strategy to rep eat the recruitment successes of the 1990’s using the benefits of stealth tactics. Quite frankly it does not appear to be the case and for many people the revival of the game in many other parts of the country has resulted in the team form Durban becoming a great deal less successful.

The also ran status has haunted the team for several years now and the stars that were beckoned for many years are a shadow of the team that strutted around in the 1990’s. Combine that with the ability of senior national selection officials to influence the decision of player’s futures and it does not look very good for the team that has become one of the most popular brands in the Super 12 and the Currie Cup. 

There is no doubt in my mind that the close results of the past few weeks point to the fact that the team is either well coached and not good enough or they are good enough and badly coached. Combine this with the verbal prowess of the coach and you do begin to wonder if he is living in a world of his own. He has an answer for every critic, excuses that sound as if he really has no idea of what is actually going on and an uncanny ability to hold onto a position that Hugh Reece Edwards lost after a sh ort period of time. Even our favourite national celebrity would surely have engaged in a form of player humiliation by now, had he not been lured away to greener pastures.

It is quite amazing how the official voice of the Sharks on the internet has become the voice of optimism in a season of great despair; it seems as if the psychological war games of the rhetorical coach have even been incorporated in the words broadcast to the supporters around the World. It is understandable that all teams go through their tough times and this might just be the case for the Sharks, reality though is that despite the heavy payroll, financed many feel by the loyalty of their supporter s, you do get the feeling that a Currie Cup trophy has not been produced for a very long time.

A very well informed media personality told me that the reason Putt would remain as the Super 12 coach is because nobody else wanted the job. Harsh as it may seem, the lack of prominent names on the transfer list that are Durban bound is a real indictment of the current management structure. Jaco Gouws and a few Pumas nobody has heard of as opposed to a Bakkies Botha or a Jean De Villiers, give me strength, sounds like a desperate situation, or perhaps the tendency to become embroiled in profiteering and sumptuous cocktail parties has become appealing to more than the upper echelons of SA Rugby and the minnow leadership that voted them in.

The lack of any real new talent from the local club scene is bad enough, it becomes even worse when you consider that some of the best schoolboy talent from the last several years are now playing in and around Cape Town or as far away as London in the UK. Whatever talent scout the Sharks have been paying should hang up his boots and look for a job in a government department in a place nobody has ever heard of. 

Are we on the brink of the demise of a wonderful brand that has been a success story from those early days back in the Currie Cup? Few people will remember the sign near Van Reenens Pass that read: “Welcome to Currie Cup country”. Perhaps it should now read as follows: “Welcome to the land of lost opportunity.”

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He has the ability to take over from me and I just hope, if that happens, that he finds someone as good as I had to be his No2.       Clive Woodward on Andy Robinson

The question we are asking ourselves is whether WP don't have their own development programme?    Harold Verster, president of the Free State Rugby Union

Schalk (Burger) is neither a skelm nor a serial infringer. He is a fantastic player with all the makings of a legend. But he needs to learn when to back off or he is going to find himself in trouble with referees.    Andre Watson

Some guys just talk the whole time, we don't want War and Peace from them, just the Readers Digest version. Sky TV's director of rugby, Andy Fyfe on turning the sound off on referee's comments during NPC matches

Sometimes the thoroughbred is not as strong as the mongrel.     Alan Solomons

Campo has no credibility among the modern-day players. They regard him as a joke.     Matt Rogers

The players are taking over again and they are finding out they don't know as much as they thought they did. There is a small group there that do not want to be coached, they want to run the team themselves.    Laurie Mains on Otago

I sincerely apologise to Mr Van Rooyen and his family for any distress or embarrassment that I have caused as a result of my comments. I now realise that my comments have not only offended Mr van Rooyen, but a lot of people.      Robbie Fleck

I love touring South Africa. It's always hostile, the atmosphere is fantastic and Newlands is a great place to play. I suppose it's a bit old-fashioned by today's standards, but then so am I.       Lawrence Dallaglio

Tempers flared and Johnno and I had a little coming together. He gave me a little dink and I gave him a little dink - but his hurt a lot more than mine I'm sure.     Lewis Moody after a 'fight' with Martin Johnson at training

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Currie Cup Log NPC Log
Team P W D L BPts Pts
Blue Bulls 12 11 0 1 7 51
WP 12 7 0 5 10 38
Cheetahs 12 7 0 5 10 38
Lions 12 7 0 5 7 35
Griquas 12 5 0 7 8 28
Sharks 12 5 0 7 7 27
Pumas 12 5 0 7 3 23
Eagles 12 1 0 11 3 7
Team Played Won Draw Lost BPts Pts
Wellington 7 5 1 1 4 26
 Harbour 7 4 1 2 7 25
Taranaki 7 5 0 2 4 24
Canterbury 7 4 1 2 5 23
B o Plenty 7 5 0 2 3 23
Waikato 7 4 0 3 5 21
Auckland 7 5 0 4 7 19
Otago 7 2 1 4 1 11
Southland 7 1 0 6 1 5
Northland 7   0 7 1` 1

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