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By Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sports Reporter


Challenge Cup an opportunity for Sharks to refocus and get back on track

It’s clear that the URC has done psychological damage to the Sharks, and the Challenge Cup could prove to be a welcome distraction.


The return of the Challenge Cup competition will be welcomed with open arms by the Sharks as it gives them a break from the United Rugby Championship, which seems to have taken a toll on the players. The Sharks’ start in the URC has been dreadful; they have lost six out of the seven games played so far and are down in 15th place out of 16 teams. Dejected Sharks team The losses they have endured in the competition have no doubt weighed heavily on the players, and on the coaching team, too, who must feel somewhat dejected at this…

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The return of the Challenge Cup competition will be welcomed with open arms by the Sharks as it gives them a break from the United Rugby Championship, which seems to have taken a toll on the players.

The Sharks’ start in the URC has been dreadful; they have lost six out of the seven games played so far and are down in 15th place out of 16 teams.

Dejected Sharks team

The losses they have endured in the competition have no doubt weighed heavily on the players, and on the coaching team, too, who must feel somewhat dejected at this point of the season.

Their loss against the Bulls last weekend, where they went down 44-10, summarised the Sharks’ season. The players’ body language was poor and the overall performance was timid and lacking in energy. Even their coach, John Plumtree, slammed them in his post-match media address.

The return to action of their Rugby World Cup winners was supposed to inject new life into the Sharks, but it seems they, too, have been penetrated by the sour mood that’s circulating at the franchise.

From the outside, it’s clear that the URC has done psychological damage to the Sharks, and the Challenge Cup could prove to be a welcome distraction.

New competition energy

Hopefully playing in a different competition will help to rejuvenate the Sharks.

However, the Challenge Cup will not be easy; there are quality teams the Sharks will come up against, and there will still be travel demands. They begin their campaign on Saturday when they take on French side Pau, who have been playing wonderful rugby in the Top 14.

The game will be played at Durban’s Kings Park Stadium, which is an advantage for the Sharks, who need plenty to go their way at the moment. A good win will give them confidence when they travel to Bloemfontein the following weekend to take on the Cheetahs.

Plumtree and his coaching staff will need to use these two games to pick up the players because if they allow the deterioration of the team’s confidence to continue, the season could go from bad to worse in the blink of an eye.

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