OPINION: Stormers streets ahead of Sharks despite financial disparity
The Sharks seem to have concentrated their resources at the top end, but their depth looks rather impoverished and it has seen their URC campaign crumbling.
The Sharks were brought to their knees up front by the superb Stormers forwards in their United Rugby Championship match at Kings Park. Picture: Steve Haag Sports/Gallo Images
The weekend’s lone United Rugby Championship game showed that, with both teams shorn of their current Springboks, the Stormers are still streets ahead of the Sharks despite the financial woes of Western Province rugby and the riches abounding at Kings Park.
While the Sharks now have the financial resources to attract big stars to play for them, it seems their recruitment has not been as shrewd as it should have been. It’s all very well spending millions on the Eben Etzebeths and Siya Kolisis of this world, but having 10 current Springboks also means you have 10 spaces to fill probably for half of your matches, when the national squad are either away on duty or on compulsory rest.
The Sharks seem to have concentrated their resources at the top end, but their depth looks rather impoverished and it has seen their URC campaign crumbling to the extent that they are in danger of missing the playoffs, sitting in eighth place with five losses in their 12 matches.
The Stormers, unable to bus players in from elsewhere, have been forced to look after their own internal pathways and how brilliantly John Dobson and Co have done, their back-up players lining up a series of performances that their first-stringers would have been content to have produced.
While there is still talent present at Kings Park when the Springboks are away – think Aphelele Fassi, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Curwin Bosch, Phepsi Buthelezi and Ntuthuko Mchunu – it does seem that the back-up team simply does not pitch in certain games. That was certainly the case against the Stormers at the weekend, as director of rugby Neil Powell has admitted. The Sharks defence gifted line-breaks and their forwards wilted in the face of a brilliant effort up front by the Stormers.
That inconsistency needs to be rectified if the Sharks are truly going to challenge for the URC title. Sometimes the problem is that the players are just not good enough at that level.