If you believe results in warm-up games don’t mean anything, I am afraid you are slightly deluded.
No silly, not the scoreboard result, that is meaningless, in fact, if I was a coach I would want the scoreboard to be switched off during these games!
But there is a reason, and a pretty damn good one teams play these pre-season games, and the results from these games, are vitally important to the team and the coach.
So what is the importance and why do they play these games?
Teams at this stage have all come off their pre-season conditioning work, which would mainly include gym work and fitness (strength and conditioning) and some skills training. Heading into the competition proper however, coaches will look at implementing structures, test combinations, and of course, depth.
It will be easy to test this by playing your A-team against your B-team, but you will not learn that much as calls or plays would be known by all, and since you are doing this in a team environment, commitment and intensity would be undermined when testing these areas.
Plumtree, Mitchell, Coetzee, Ludeke and Drotske all have very specific ‘results’ in mind when they enter into these games. All of them different, and all of them having little to do what the scoreboard says after 80 minutes.
Every single coaching manual worth its value will tell you the most important aspect of training (which this is), would be to replicate real-match situations. To test structures, skills and plays under intensity and pressure. The result of this, is what is vital.
So what fans, and in particular the Bulls and Sharks fans (and obviously their coaches) need to consider here, is whether they ‘lost’, judging on these aspects of their team and the match.
Considering the Sharks and Lions game, where the Sharks lost 24 balls in contact, conceded 15 penalties, got bossed in the set-pieces (conceded 3 tries from mauls and drives) and missed way too many tackles, the ‘results’ which matters, is far worse than 10-41.
Good teams, or prepared teams, have systems that work, and they trust. I have little doubt the Sharks have decent systems in place, but unlike the Lions coach, Plumtree will have to ask serious questions with regard to the application, and commitment of his charges who are tasked to execute them.