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The 2014 Shark side

The 2014 Shark side

Would Mercedes Benz survive if they just produced S-Class models? Aren’t their well being and fortunes necessitated by producing and selling C and E class models? If South African rugby were Mercedes Benz, the Cell C Sharks would be the S-Class model, but after that there is not much to talk or get excited about if you are a South African rugby supporter.

Out of the 15 teams South Africa has the dubious honor of the Toyota Cheetahs in 14th spot, the Lions in 12th, DHL Stormers at 11th and Vodacom Bulls at 9th position on the Combined Log.

The rest of the South African 2014 Super Rugby sides

The rest of the South African 2014 Super Rugby sides

In fact, barring the Sharks, reading the Log reminds one of a Stephen King novel. Even the Shark supporters must get a tinge of horror when seeing that they ended third, where only a short while ago they were still sitting at Number 1 and destined for a week off before the Semi-Finals. A brief lapse of concentration against the teams that finished 14th and 11th and all of a sudden they have to play one extra week and then in all probability travel from Durban, to Christchurch, to Sydney in three successive weeks if they want to win the tournament. Lest we forget, they have to beat the Highlanders then the Crusaders and then the Waratahs while they are there.

Although it will be a tough ask, it’s not outside of the realms of reality for them. They slipped up against the Highlanders in Durban during the league phase, but Bismarck was absent for them that day. They beat the Crusaders in Christchurch during their overseas leg and what made the victory even more remarkable was they did it with 14 men, and at a stage with 13 men. They beat the Waratahs with ease in Durban earlier the season, but the Waratahs were without their talisman, Israel Folau, for that match.

In the Sharks, South African rugby has their S-Class, albeit a S-Class with a slow puncture at times. The other four franchises are a problem at the moment.

The Bulls managed to reiterate what a fortress Loftus is for them, being unbeaten at home with 7 victories and 1 draw. They couldn’t manage even 1 away win though.

The Stormers were dismal, right from the outset when the Lions, in only their second game back in Super Rugby, absolutely smashed them at Ellis Park. It didn’t get better after that, sneaking a 1 point win over a Hurricane side that only started hitting their straps a few weeks later and onto a tour from hell, from which they never recovered. A brief respite late in the season with an away victory over the Sharks and 2 wins where they recorded blank slates against the Cheetahs and the Bulls.

The Lions, back into Super Rugby after a year on the sidelines, recorded their best season ever, but still ended 12th out of 15. Yet they are considered the second best story to come out of this years campaign, the Sharks game obviously being the highlight. They played above themselves and with no big name stars, they still managed to keep their supporters happy. Their downfall was facing the New Zealand and Australian sides. Against opposition they knew, they didn’t take a backward step, beating the Bulls, Stormers and absolutely smashing the Cheetahs at Ellis Park.

After making the play-offs in 2013, the Cheetahs had a horrible year, ending 14th on the Combined Log. They did however manage to produce a crop of new Springboks, the stand out being young Lood de Jager.

In contrast, the New Zealand franchises ended 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th and 10th on the combined log. The Hurricanes just missing out in 7th spot and the Blues being their “lemon”, still ending above three of the five South African sides.

The Australians managed top spot with their Waratahs, the Brumbies joined in the Top 6 play-off spots at 4th position, the Western Force almost completed their fairy tale year, just missing out by 3 Log Points to end 8th. The Reds and Rebels ended very South African-like at 13th and 15th. We should however not be comparing and measuring South African sides to the Australian franchises, as South Africa has far superior player numbers to the Australians and many of their franchises even employ South African players.

Compared to the New Zealand franchises, the South African franchises have come a distant second. The Sharks were the only South African team to win in New Zealand (and Australia), yet the New Zealand franchises didn’t find winning or drawing in South Africa so difficult.

If one must look for mitigating factors to try and explain why South African sides were so poor this year, the first excuse will be that they regularly lose too many of their players to the overseas market. The New Zealand policy of only selecting players for the All Blacks from those who partake in Super Rugby, works for them. So too does their central contracting system. If South Africa were to employ the same principles now, would a Springbok team selected only from players who ended 3rd and then from 9th on the Log down to 14th instill any confidence?

Is it all doom and gloom for South African rugby? There are some pros to counter all the cons. The Springbok players not in the Sharks team, now get at least three weeks extra rest and recuperation time.

What are your thoughts on the 2014 Super Rugby campaign and your team’s showing?

16 Responses to Super Rugby: Can SA Rugby survive with just one flagship model?

  • 1

    As a Stormer supporter, this was probably the worst year in history that I can recall. It started horribly and just got worse. We are lucky to even end 11th on the log, at one stage we were a shoo in for the wooden spoon

  • 2

    as die tjarks n s class bens is dan is die cheetahs virseker n alfa romeo, flippen hot as hy aan die gang is maar wees verseker hy gaan jou langs die pad los erns

  • 3

    @ smallies:
    Lol, die Stormers is dan seker n donkie kar

  • 4

    Yip, not a good year for the South African sides in Super Rugby!

    … and for my side, the Bulls, an error-ridden, selection-fumbling, game-tossing disaster, as far as I’m concerned!

    1. The Bulls started out with Louis Fouché at bloody flyhalf… what a donkey!
    2. They went on to undervalue the role of the loosies and in particular that of an out and out fetcher… and paid the dear price continiously at the ground ball battle!
    3. The handling errors and lack of patience and precision close to the opposition tryline cost them many games… many!
    4. The Bulls lineouts were great overall but the scrumming situation looked dismal, mostly!
    5. The continued selection and lack of form of key players like JJ Engelbrecht, Callie Visagie and Grant Hattingh is something I find difficult to understand, and difficult to bear!
    6. Continuing along the same faulty path, over and over and over, clearly speaks volumes about the adaptability and intelligence of their coaching staff!
    7. The inability to contract well over the last 2 and a bit years, since the departure of Ian Schwartz, is a blight on the Franchise and the Blue Bulls Union and has awaken a terrible dislike in me for Xander Janse van Rensburg… the misfit now in charge of contracting matters!

    The rise of a player like Handré Pollard is a massive positive… the return of Victor Matfield has been a revelation… but other than that the Bulls have no reason to celebrate a dismal season in my eyes!

    Regarding the other SA Franchises, shortly just the following:

    1. The Stormers had a horrible year, with glimpses of former glory and possible future strenght in the few weeks preceeding yesterday’s Sharks game, all undone by yesterday’s pathetic, stupid, sub-standard performance. Just as it looked like Gert Smal was performing very quick miracles at the Union, they went and produced the abortion which was yesterday’s game!

    2. The Lions started well, slumped in the middle and then produced marvelous rugby against the Bulls and Cheetahs. The great performances of their front row, as well as that of Marnitz Boshoff and chaps like Jaco Kriel, Warren Whiteley and Faf de Klerk… after a year in the wilderness, was good to see! Better balance between attack and defence will have to be reached before they could consider themselves back on track in Super Rugby in general, however!

    3. The Cheetahs… everybody loves the Cheetahs… but this year they made it difficult for us to like them! Some great finds emerged from them in 2014 though, Cornal Hendricks, Lood de Jager and the continued rise of the machine, Willie le Roux. They will have to go back to some serious basics on the defensive front though, they were frail all over the park on defense! Not good enough, Vrystaaaaat!

    4. The Cell C Guppies.. well congrats to them for making the play-off’s, it is better than anything my team could muster! But… and it is a big but…. the side is rotten to the core with squeeling players, a coach who freeks me out with his arrogance and ever-flapping mouth… and a bunch of prima-donnas thrown into the mix! For the life of me I cannot support Fransie Steyn, Jake White, Jannie du Plessis and Bismarck du Plessis going forward in this year’s Super Rugby Competition! Neither can I bear the attitudes of a few of their supporters, some of whom I deal with in the IT side of my business dealings and some of whom have shown their love of the Sharks over the interests of the Springboks.

    I wish my good Sharks friends here on Rugby-Talk well, yes you Charo, Ryecatcher, Stinkvis (Snoek) and maybe a few others! I hope your team continues to serve you and bring the results you desire. I will not shout for your side in the coming weeks… I do not like the Mercedes Benz S-Class… I am a BMW man and a Bulls & Springbok supporter.

  • 5

    It has been an Annus horribilis year for South African Franchise Rugby.

    Bring on our National Team… Let’s hope they lift our spirits…

    2014 not a year to remember…

  • 6

    Norty is now a journo things have changed.


  • 7

    @ grootblousmile:
    He he, ok dan, die Sharks van 2014 is die BMW 7 reeks, ongelukkig bly die res van ons spanne jalopies.
    Dis nie eers n verassing of skok nie, meeste van ons het dit al voorspel voor die toernooi begin het.

    Check die Stormers in 2015……next year is our year

  • 8

    @ gunther:
    The Bulls of 2014 is like a Kia Picanto, sort of reliable, but not enough power.

  • 9

    good article Nortie..

    maybe it was the travel disadvantage ? the referees? the anzac conspiracy? the colour of Makou’s hair? the irb led conspiracy against SA in full bloom? the over reliance of steroids? the lack of crowds in australasia? BEE and affirmative action? SA accents? disastrous commentary teams from all nations? as Jake the muss says ” too much strength and not enough speed work”? the despicable, dishonest kiwi consciousness? games being played on the weekends? the time zone difference? travelling east as opposed to west? the 4 week tours compared to the two week tours? Stuart Berry? Jaco Peyper? Africa is hot and NZ is cold? Bakkies bad karma effecting all SA sides? Puma’s disappearance now the sharkies arent all that? SA players play so much more rugby then their Australasian counterparts? Europes continual rape and pillage? provincialism? Dan Carters underwear endorsements distracting SA players? rugby itself? Heyneke Meyer?

    who knows what the reasons are, but I imagine the Bokke will still be formidable in TRC..

  • 10

    @ nga puhi:

    Yes formidable but I doubt the results will be any different from the previous few seasons, we’ll take them home & away again this year.

  • 11

    @ nga puhi:
    Morning Pops, speaking of Jake the Mus, just last night I had another look at the Youtube clip of that fight :grin: strange that you mention him. Yep, many reasons can be found, but at least under Heyneke it seems like he and the players who plays under him take full accountability. So far the excuses when we lose to you have been few and far between.


    Probably right Noodles, hopefully from our side we can beat you playing in SA. I have a feeling that we might also struggle against the Wallabies in Australia this year, but I also think the AB’s are going to be in for a shock in Sydney.

  • 12

    nortierd wrote:

    @ nga puhi:
    Morning Pops, speaking of Jake the Mus, just last night I had another look at the Youtube clip of that fight strange that you mention him. Yep, many reasons can be found, but at least under Heyneke it seems like he and the players who plays under him take full accountability. So far the excuses when we lose to you have been few and far between.

    kia ora bro.. I am policing the police mate, hence the jake the mus reference Police Overjoy

    full credit to Meyer, he only lost to NZ last year, this year really the acid test, one year out, Aussies looking like they will be much improved, NZ as strong as ever. cant wait for the RC to start. I think JDVs example in not apportioning blame and taking responsibility is a step in the right direction for the Bokke.

    I do think though, that NZ will win the RC again. our core seem to be reaching good form. going to be a cracking series this year.

  • 13

    @ nga puhi:
    The AB’s are always the favorite going into any tournament they play in. And with good reason, but one never knows, we live in hope Happy

  • 14

    @ nortierd:
    puh lease boet, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about SA’s in my time Ive known them, is that they expect to win the rugby,

    wouldnt have it any other way, always an extra element of emotion when our nations clash, the history between us is awesome.

    catch us if you can Approve

  • 15

    nga puhi wrote:

    @ nortierd:

    catch us if you can

    Stop running so damn fast then

  • 16


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