Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport


One win from nine matches: Sharks’ form in URC is baffling

They have a great coach in John Plumtree and a squad full of Springbok players.


What’s up with the Sharks? That’s the question just about every rugby follower is asking after the Durban side crashed to another defeat at the weekend, this time against the Lions at home. The fact they had a chance late in the game to snatch a 21-20 win had a penalty kick by Boeta Chamberlain gone through the uprights will be of little consolation. The fact is the Sharks were 18-3 up and in cruise control, but they found a way to let the Lions back into the game and Ivan van Rooyen’s team grabbed the chance. They won 20-18…

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What’s up with the Sharks?

That’s the question just about every rugby follower is asking after the Durban side crashed to another defeat at the weekend, this time against the Lions at home.

The fact they had a chance late in the game to snatch a 21-20 win had a penalty kick by Boeta Chamberlain gone through the uprights will be of little consolation.

The fact is the Sharks were 18-3 up and in cruise control, but they found a way to let the Lions back into the game and Ivan van Rooyen’s team grabbed the chance. They won 20-18 and are on some run.

Sadly, for the Sharks, their situation is now dire; they have won one URC game from nine matches.

Coach and players

It is difficult to pinpoint where things have gone wrong. They have a great coach in John Plumtree, who knows the Sharks culture having played for the team and coached it previously, while he should be a more rounded and experienced man this second time around having been a part of the All Blacks set-up, as well as been the Hurricanes coach in Super Rugby.

And the Sharks have the players, too; goodness, they probably have the strongest squad in South Africa! They also have a huge and dedicated fan base … so what is wrong?

It didn’t help that the Sharks started their latest URC campaign with four matches in Europe, losing to Munster, Leinster, Ospreys and Zebre; that’s enough to put any side on the back foot and raise the pressure levels.

Plumtree and Co have probably been trying too hard to find answers since the opening weeks of the competition and the harder they try the more they’re probably confusing themselves and the players.

Also, trying too hard to win is a real thing and you can almost feel the desperation in the players and in the team’s play.

Unfortunately it’s too late to rescue this season, though Plumtree and the players will want to at least pick up a few wins in the latter half of the schedule.

Here’s hoping they do just that, because the coaches and players deserve to get some reward for the work put in over the last few months.

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