History’s burden on Sharks

2012-07-31 11:22

Cape Town – Five times in Super Rugby history since its most formal inception in 1996, teams have crossed the Indian Ocean in either direction for the final ... each time they have flown home empty-handed.

That is the cold fact that weighs on the unenviably globe-trotting Sharks as they prepare for Saturday’s (09:35 SA time) 2012 showpiece against the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Already science and sheer common sense suggests they will be up against it at Waikato Stadium, with prominent sports scientist Ross Tucker suggesting this week that they will effectively carry a 15-point handicap into the clash.

Even under more normal circumstances in this competition, they say that it is the second week after a long haul when teams really start to be debilitated by the travel – so Keegan Daniel’s troops ought to be starting to feel the effects now of their passage to and from Australia for that initial finals series task against the Reds in Brisbane.

But they have since made the gruelling passage again, which in layman’s terms might be deemed a little like trying to cure a hangover with a “papsak” of late harvest.

A glance at the Super Rugby records only further decreases the likelihood that they will come out on top against the Chiefs, not least because they have been the victims in two of the five instances where the trek between continents has proved a bridge too far for the finalists undertaking it.

In 1996, they were the first side to come up short in this fashion ... and that was in the days when the rugby calendar was not nearly so obscenely, tightly-packed.

They played that final against the Blues in Auckland as many as 17 days after seeing off the Reds in a Brisbane semi-final, so there had at least been some opportunity for recharge – it didn’t help, as they were well beaten 45-21 by the home side of Sean Fitzpatrick’s heyday.

Three years later, in 1999, the Highlanders flew to Cape Town to play the Stormers in a semi, and came away with a 33-18 victory – but already the final was starting to be scheduled only a week onward, and they were beaten at their then-Carisbrook stronghold 24-19 by the altogether fresher Crusaders.

The Sharks had their second stab at flying to Australasia for a final, a week after winning an all-South African semi against the Cats 30-12 at Kings Park, in 2001.

They took on the then-emerging Brumbies at Bruce Stadium in Canberra, and in terms of scoring sequence the match certainly seemed to highlight the perils attached to the long-distance flight.

The Sharks were highly competitive in the first half, with flyhalf Butch James typically rugged and direct and often pushing the boundaries of tackling legality as the visitors tried to unsettle the Brumbies’ touted halfback combo of Messrs Gregan and Larkham.

It was 6-6 at the break but then the home team went up a vital gear in the second period and ran in three unanswered tries, two of them going to prolific Wallabies wing Joe Roff, as the final score read a convincing 36-6.

As one newspaper noted: “The Sharks, despite their heavy pack, began at an electric pace although their fatigue after travelling from South Africa saw them almost out on their feet in the second half.”

The only time that one of the Antipodean sides has made the pilgrimage to South Africa for the showpiece game, came in 2009 when this Saturday’s home finalists, the Chiefs, got on a plane straight after beating the Hurricanes in an all-NZ semi at Hamilton.

They hardly need reminding that they suffered easily the worst slaughter ever in a final: 61-17 in the heartless Highveld air against a rampant Bulls side, who registered eight tries (Fourie du Preez and Bryan Habana two each, others by Pierre Spies, Victor Matfield, Wynand Olivier and Danie Rossouw) in the process.

Last season’s final was the fifth instance of the jet-lagged visiting side failing to deliver the silverware: the Crusaders may have been mightily impressive in seeing off the Stormers 29-10 in a Newlands semi, but the journey back sapped much more of their strength and they lost 18-13 to the Reds in Brisbane seven days later.

The Sharks of 2012 have had the most punishing lead-up schedule of the lot en route to Saturday’s Hamilton encounter, although coach John Plumtree did try to gee up his side by saying after the 26-19 triumph over the Stormers: “If we don’t do this (under such unfavourable circumstances), someone will eventually.

“If we can get up physically, anything can happen.”

At least his brave men have the incentive of achieving what many neutrals regard as the emphatically unachievable ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • martin.marais.90 - 2012-07-31 11:44

    Good luck to the World XI against the Chiefs!

      MarkSchrade1980 - 2012-07-31 11:53

      XV, XI is 11 which is typically a cricket team ;)

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-31 12:25

      martin marais - mampara of the day

  • pieto.smith - 2012-07-31 11:52

    I've got a few jokes for isak.visser aka "papsnoek" van die kaap: 1. How do you not greet a stormer? don't say HAAI !!! 2. How do you hide alcohol from a Province player? hide it in the currie cup! Sharks Forever !!!

      cape.maori - 2012-07-31 12:17

      Do not become arrogant and grootbek like Isak Visser! As I said on Saturday night, the Saarks played like a true champion team but will be up against a very determined Chiefs outfit. I think the Chiefs will play their normal expansive game after earning the right to play it wide and stretch the Saarks players across the field. Saarks might be out of their feet in the last 30 minutes! The Chiefs might have played their "final" against the Saders, will only know after Saturday. Chiefs thrive on turn over ball and will hit the Saarks with quick line speed right through the middle. One can see the prints of Wayne Smith all over the Chiefs back line - organised, solid, hard hitting and in some cases, slowing down the ball albeit illegally. Look forward to the front row battle - Bismark against the Manu Samu hooker, Shwalger et all. Also be aware of Robinson with his attacking flair from the back - the biggest mistake the Saarks can make is to put too many men on SBW - the off loads will still come and the runners off his shoulder will have a field day. Any way, may the best team win and may Isak Visser stop abusing public resources. I have a feeling the S15 champions will be from NZ, the home of the rugby world champions and the Nr 1 on the IRB ranking.

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-31 12:27

      about as funny and past its expiry as the blow up doll new material please.

  • sbonelo.dladla1 - 2012-07-31 12:09

    AGAINST ALL ODDS! Go Sharks!!!

      Paddy - 2012-07-31 12:38

      Against the odds shouted by the same Ms Tucker who was quoted just last week that the Sharks were starting with a 9 point deficit. He should get a real job somewhere outside of Cape Town. Stick to science Tucker - you know jack about forecasting rugby scores.

      deon.fouche.3 - 2012-07-31 12:53

      Paddy... If you can't read, please do not make it our problem! Jy maak jou naam gat!

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-31 13:18

      ross tucker, worst sports forecaster ever

      paddy.carolan.35 - 2012-07-31 19:20

      Mr Deon Fouche III, I have read the third paragraph again and again, andI I understand fully what is being said. English has been my home language for 66 years now, I can read my own language without assistance, and I find that the very same "prominent sport's scientest" had the same thing to say last week. I suggest you read it again and accept the fact that it is not MY problem, but yours. If your team lost, live with it. Grow up and try not to make your own name gat (a hole). My naam is nie gat nie. Dalk is dit u. Does Tucker live in your village, or you are just opposed to the Sharks?

  • theunis.botha.96 - 2012-07-31 12:11

    They have said the mile could never be run under four minutes,and since it has been done,the exercise have been repeated.Same as the humdrum by some sport journalists and loser supporter critics,almost praying that the travel and jet lab factor must deprive the Sharks of their first super 15 victory.Boundaries in sports are meant to be broken,and learned critics have been proven to be wrong in the past.I hope and believe the Sharks can and will just do that...same as they did last week.

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-31 12:30

      from jet lag to jet leg to jet lab - this place is a plethora of idiocy boundaries in sport exist in cricket and are not meant to be broken because then they would need more rope to make a new one and that would hold up the game. einsteyn you are not

      theunis.botha.96 - 2012-07-31 13:07

      Tommy.If my great grandfather can look down on me and note how I can mess up the english language in all of it's grammatical structures and terminolo'gies,it would sure have put a happy smile on his face. Also a difference between spelling & typing errors.At 250 words per minute (Almost as fast as you can shoot off your tongue) mistakes are inevitable.

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-31 13:25

      bud so your great grandpappy was also a bit of a numbskull? while some oke is running the mile in 4 minutes you are typing 1000 words. yisses i dont know what is more impressive, running like a champion or typing like a secretary.

      skinfaxi.mordor - 2012-07-31 14:55

      Jet lag, medically referred to as desynchronosis, is a physiological condition which results from alterations to the body's circadian rhythms resulting from rapid long-distance transmeridian (east–west or west–east) travel on a jet aircraft. It is classified as one of the circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Wikipedia "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" - Matthew 7:3

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-31 15:52

      like replying to my drivel over and over hey alicia? recognize yourself? boom, internet memo SERVED

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-31 15:53


      tom.tardis - 2012-07-31 16:00

      but what are u talking about planks and sawdust? i got an F for woodwork

  • maakdiebulle.almalbokke - 2012-07-31 12:16

    This Sharks team is going to dominate for a few years.\r\n\r\nGo Sharks ! !

  • wesley.j.lane - 2012-07-31 12:31

    Sharks, make history and win that cup! Despite all the negative posts. I’m hoping all this will only make you stronger!!!!

      cape.maori - 2012-07-31 12:40

      Did you send a copy of the negative posts to the Saarks as motivation?

      donavan.boshoff - 2012-07-31 12:55

      no but one to your mom on its way

      sean.howlett.71 - 2012-08-01 03:01

      lol @ dono !

  • heystek.erasmus - 2012-07-31 12:43

    Records are meant to b broken,grense word verskuif,fact of life,no reason why the sharks cannot upset history and win the thing,remember when the Bulls needed that massive win against the reds to go through?and they did it,92 sumthing,so yes,let them go for it and win it

      cape.maori - 2012-07-31 12:44

      Heard you the first time!!! ok?

  • phil.grahn - 2012-07-31 12:45

    We need a blitzkrieg from the Sharks, nothing else will do.

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-31 15:54

      i dont brag about anything other than being perfect. the last time i was wrong was when i thought i was wrong

      skinfaxi.mordor - 2012-07-31 17:33

      Alicia don't let him get to you. Most teenagers don't think before they do things.

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-31 17:51


  • dave.short.102 - 2012-07-31 12:54

    Go Sharks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bulls groete

  • skinfaxi.mordor - 2012-07-31 12:57

    The biggest single factor weighing against the Sharks is that if the Chiefs loose the game Steve Walsh will need an armed escort out of Hamilton. And he knows it. The Kiwis still haven’t forgiven Wayne Barnes five years down the line. Don’t expect any 50/50 decisions to go the Sharks way.

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-31 13:02


      raymond.romans.5 - 2012-07-31 15:11

      After Walsh's poor performance in 2007 when he gave the Bulls the game, he might feel that he needs to make it up. He admitted himself after the game that he had screwed it up. This is not sour grapes about the past, but hope for the future.

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-07-31 16:36

      You're wasting your time tom trollis, 9 out of 10 people spell lose as "loose", even though it gets pointed out over and over and over. Weird. Hey, and stop trolling!!

  • skinfaxi.mordor - 2012-07-31 13:01

    Because the Sharks have the dominant forward pack they should be able to dictate the pace of the game. If they are clever they will slow the game right down, keep it tightand starve the Chiefs with possession. Lots of pick & drives and lots of rolling mauls. If they kick the ball away the Chiefs will think it’s Christmas.

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-07-31 16:40

      Forwards get tired, especially big ones. My recommendation is take a few 'roids. Either that or pray. But anybody completely writing my team off could be in for a surprise, I doubt they could be more motivated after the journey they've been on.

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-31 17:53

      my money is on the sharks, they paid me off in a big way this last weekend, gonna stick with them

      theunis.botha.96 - 2012-08-01 00:42

      Take your money and and hit the breeze.Sharks and their fans don't need/want any stigmas attach'ed through indiscreet assocciation.

  • bullion.ackron - 2012-07-31 13:07

    Hahahahahahaha. Stormers SUCK - WProbeer. Sharks gaan van die bus afval. BULLE bly BAAS.

      deon.fouche.3 - 2012-07-31 13:20

      Ai Shame Bullion, julle kon nie eers die semi's maak nie, wat nog van die final!!!!!!! Hou eerder jou mond en gaan kyk n replay van 32-10!

      hilton.oreilly - 2012-07-31 13:41

      Gaan skreeu jou hart uit vir jou bul span saterdag op loftus jammer daar gaan niks aangaan nie want sover ek nog onthou is julle al lank terug uit.......die stilte op loftus doen jou dalk net goed........Julle moet altyd n eier le oor ander spanne maar kyk nie na julle eie span se tekortkome nie................dit sien julle nie raak nie en gin geen ander span nadat julle al verslaan is n kans en goeie woorde om te wen nie.......ek meen ons is almal suid afrikaners.........onderstuen jou span met alle respek maar as julle uit is het darem respek vir mede SA SPANNE wat wel nog die beker kan wen......gaan dink net bietjie verder as jou blou bul span.....hulle is verseker nie die begin en einde van rugby nie........en die sharks en stomers het dit bewys...........GO Sharks maak ons opgevoede ondersteuners trots op julle en bring dai beker huistoe.......wen of verloor ons is trots op julle.......

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-07-31 16:45

      WP en Saarks is julle baas hierdie jaar, jammer ou bullion. Bulle play op die plaas.

      sean.howlett.71 - 2012-08-01 03:03

      bullion , you maybe related to Isak ? LOL !

  • justin.hemming.94 - 2012-07-31 13:19

    Stats, schmats - Good restful weak ahead after meeting the Stormless - Hit the Chiefs hard in the first half - make clever substitutions at 60min - Sharks by 5!

  • robi.thenga - 2012-07-31 13:19

    To me now this is South Africa versus New Zealand...Go Sharks, make Bulls proud, take the cup I will celebrate...

  • carol.botha.79 - 2012-07-31 13:45

    Good luck to the Sharks, they after all S.Africans, lets all the supporters from all the provinces cheer them on, Come on S.Africans we can do it,I live in Cape Town and support the Sharks but when any of the S.Africans are in the final my whole gang support whichever S.A. team is playing, so come on lets be Sportsman like

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-31 13:59

      r u in a gang? thats so gangster, is it one of those gangs on the flats?

      fred.gatvol - 2012-07-31 14:20

      Pop round to Izaks house and explain that concept to him

      comurray - 2012-07-31 15:40

      Here I agree, let us all stand behind them in New Zealand after all they are South Africans. It is going to be a tough match being a final. (see my comment below)

  • skinfaxi.mordor - 2012-07-31 14:20

    On June 27 1880 Helen Adams Keller was born. Despite being deaf and blind she went on to be an author, lecturer and political activist. Is this a motivational speech about the human endeavor overcoming adversity? No. I am asking why if a deafblind person can do all this why can’t Steve Walsh see a high tackle?

      tom.tardis - 2012-07-31 14:27

      or forward passes to aplon

  • skinfaxi.mordor - 2012-07-31 14:37

    Great teams have always taken their burden and used it to their advantage. In our case we made him the reserve hooker.

  • heinrich.vanjaarsveld.52 - 2012-07-31 14:43

    Didn't isak useless visser blame the sharks and ref for the lost if I recall correct I told the same useless visser last week if the stormers lost he will blame the shark for playing the man not the ball and the ref for overseeing the sharks for infringements just like I told him he won't give credit for the better team in that case the sharks so 3 out of the 4 he did the 4th was that the tmo will give a try that 1 he didn't blame like I said useless visser u aint a rugby fan or stormer fan U ARE USELESS

      heinrich.vanjaarsveld.52 - 2012-07-31 18:07

      Bwahaha shhhh!! Useless net nog n bewys van jou simpel arogante eks die baas ek ken alles kommentaar erken net jou kommentaar is useless net soos jy

  • comurray - 2012-07-31 15:34

    Last Saturday everybody except a few staunch Sharks supporters gave the Sharks not a hope in hell of beating the Stormers on their home turf. Well as we all know the Sharks won convincingly. So why not wait until after Saturdays match before passing your remarks?

  • goofree - 2012-07-31 20:53

    As a kiwi I give the sharks a great chance of doing the impossible in winning in Hamilton and boy do they deserve all the accolades if they do Cris crossing over the globe too get too your destiny will throw past winners out the window.GOOD LUCK to them exciting too see if they can,,,,,,,,,,,

      hans.himmler.7 - 2012-07-31 23:11

      Goofree ignore Isak, he's basically a cross between a Bryce Lawrence and an Australian Playstation. Hope the Boys in B&W will bring it home.

  • hans.himmler.7 - 2012-07-31 22:38

    From the Wolf's Lair... Daniels - Keep bearing to TRUE NORTH, you are almost there. Bismarck - DESTROY, DESTROY, DESTROY, like the Battleship. Coetzee - Do what you know best, CREATE HAVOC. Mvovo - IMPI Plum - Underdogs have best access to the belly, RIP IT APART. Rest Well my Boys, you are already CHAMPIONS in our books. BLACK . WHITE . DYNAMITE

  • travis.head.756 - 2012-08-01 09:34

    Hahaaa, "But they have since made the gruelling passage again, which in layman’s terms might be deemed a little like trying to cure a hangover with a “papsak” of late harvest." - Hilarious... We proved them wrong last week and the week before...And lets not forget our best performances come when we are deemed to be the underdogs!

  • travis.head.756 - 2012-08-01 09:55

    Ross Tucker Said this last week - "With the physical toll of the overseas flight, combined with the bumps and bruises they have to recover from, I'll speculate that the Stormers will start with an 8-10 point advantage." Now this week its much of the same - "Already science and sheer common sense suggests they will be up against it at Waikato Stadium, with prominent sports scientist Ross Tucker suggesting this week that they will effectively carry a 15-point handicap into the clash" - Ross Tucker Said this last week... Ross tucker - Wrong last week...WRONG THIS WEEK?!

      hans.himmler.7 - 2012-08-01 10:38

      Toss Tucker and Esuck are both products of their home.

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