I cannot believe how quickly fellow South African’s jump ship as soon as their rugby team gets knocked out of the Super 15. Its sad, really.
It is the psychological equivalent of a whimpering dog rolling on its back for a tummy tickle when it gets nervous. It is the ultimate sign of giving up. Imagine a Liverpool supporter suddenly supporting Man U once their team got beaten?
Can’t beat em so join em, seems to be the motto of many South Africans. No wonder the Lions, Cheetahs and Bulls struggled this year. If it is not their quarter-full stadiums it is fair-weather fans. Unless you are a Kwazulu-Natalian you have no right to even watch this Saturday’s final. I won’t.
I spent Saturday morning in the Simonstown naval museum with my young son. They had a machine gun on display and he quickly jumped behind the gun and said “Where are the Sharks, Dad. . . lets mow them down!” It was a wonderful father/son bonding moment and we had a quiet snigger to ourselves whenever we saw someone walking around in one of those black jerseys with that silly cartoon shark on it. We moved on to the torpedo and limpet mine section and wondered aloud how they could be put to use in the sea off Durban, rather than wasted, unexploded in a museum.
Then there was the game itself. I don’t know where France got that extra energy because by all rights they should have been badly jet-lagged. I wonder if they did any blood tests after the match? Or perhaps it was the unique atmosphere of playing in front of a full stadium that gave them a lift? Packed stadiums have become blase for the Stormers because they always play to a full house. Even when they play in Dirtbin or Pretoria they pack them in. Ironically these extra gate takings are the only reason the Sharks are able to import the French to supplement their poor homegrown talent. In way we have shot ourselves in the foot by trying to give a younger brother a foot-up.
A quick word about foreign nationals. The French are notoriously bad-tempered and subject to self-implosion. It is rare for France to play well three games in a row, and Sharks supporters will find that out this weekend. And this time they will be up against a neutral ref.
The ref. . . yes, the elephant in the room. It must be said that the famous Cape humility was stretched to the limit this weekend, and other provinces would do well to study our Captain’s after match speech as an example of grace under pressure. I certainly hope that Keegan Daniels doesn’t embarrass us on Saturday when he tries to explain away their loss.
But back to the referee. While Jean was magnanimous in defeat, let me say what every true supporter of the game must be dying to admit: forward passes. . . and off-sides at the ruck! How they peppered the game. Laugh now Mr Smug Sharky. . . but wait until this man is in charge of our beloved Bokke and see how funny it is.
Steve Walsh, you are in danger of becoming the next Bryce Lawrence. In fact you have become the next Bryce Lawrence.
If there is one small glimmer of hope, one little turn of a friendly card, it must be that the Stormers halfbacks have finally shown that they will be shoo-ins for the Bok team. What tremendous goal kicking and defense from the pair. How close they came, and behind a Bok pack that will see the return of Schalk Burger and Duane Vermeulen, they will be well nigh unstoppable.
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