Currie Cup

COMMENT | Time for Sharks to bubble wrap players after this week's outbreak

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Sharks coach Sean Everitt. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)
Sharks coach Sean Everitt. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)
  • Not to vilify them but it’s time for the Sharks to stop attempting to prevent an outbreak by having players in the comfort of their homes.
  • It’s understood that Sharks players and management are under strict self-isolation protocols in their homes in the days leading up to the semi-finals.
  • With the semi-finals looming the Sharks have no spare room for any mishaps.

Not to vilify them but it’s time for the Sharks to stop attempting to prevent an outbreak by having players in the comfort of their homes.

The Sharks face Western Province while the Bulls will host the Lions in the Currie Cup semi-finals.

It’s incredible that there have been two cancellations of essentially the same fixture in two separate competitions since rugby’s September restart – Sharks versus Stormers in Super Rugby Unlocked and, this week, the Sharks’ visit to Province.

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Warning signs that the pandemic might wreak havoc in Durban came when, in November, an entire Sharks front row was struck by Covid causing the Stormers match cancellation.

The match was going to be a goodie, too, as both teams had a chance to take the Super Rugby Unlocked title chase to the wire.

In the end the Bulls cake walked to victory over the rest of the six teams.

With the semi-finals looming, and another Covid outbreak forcing a meeting between the Capetonians and Durbanites to be cancelled and points shared, the Sharks have no spare room for any mishaps.

Again, this is not to finger point but extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.

An outbreak, as the Lions and Bulls showed, can happen to any team at any time.

Jake White is sporting a new beard for 2021 (Scree

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However, it’s become paramount that the most recent and worst affected teams, like the Sharks, take drastic measures to ensure they pitch come next week Saturday’s playoff at Newlands.

Even Sharks head coach Sean Everitt couldn't travel to Bloemfontein where his team were badly beaten, due to "Covid protocols".

SA Rugby ought to be concerned, too, about such developments so close to the finish line.

They have worked desperately hard to make sure rugby returns to television screens during the pandemic, to save the sport from complete financial collapse.

Talk of competition integrity has been rife, and the myriad shared points has taken the shine off the tournaments somewhat.

I remember the Cheetahs champing at the bit to face a down-on-luck Lions a week after they beat the Bulls 19-17 in Bloemfontein.

Their fires were swiftly doused when their game was cancelled and were awarded a paltry two points (each) for the default "draw".

They faced the Stormers at Newlands looking flat and one can say they never fully got their momentum back.

The Sharks have at times also been stunted momentum-wise by the outbreaks.

A number of their key players have been missing at key times – be it injury or having to self-isolate after coming into contact with positive cases – and it has done them precious little good.

I understand that, after the latest cancellation, the players and management are under strict self-isolation protocol in their homes in the days leading up to the semi-finals.

However, arranging a mini-bubble for themselves, at one of the agonisingly luxurious seaside hotels in Umhlanga, would hurt less than another outbreak compromising the team at the most crucial juncture.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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