Sharks fret over Lambie eligibility ruling
Durban - An eligibility ruling made by the Super Rugby organisers is what is understood to have prompted Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold to change his initial plan and bracket Pat Lambie on the bench for Friday night’s last league clash with the Sunwolves, SuperSport.com reports.
Although he was able to start exercising again on Tuesday, Lambie has still shown slight symptoms of the concussion he sustained over a month ago courtesy of his clash with the thigh of Ireland forward CJ Stander at Newlands. That was why Lambie was initially going to be excluded from the Sharks match day squad for Friday’s game.
However Gold had written a letter to SANZAAR furnishing them with details of Lambie’s status as a Sharks player in the hope that he be allowed to play in the play-off phase of Super Rugby. Lambie was listed as an injured player when the Sharks furnished the organisers with the squad list at the start of the season as he’d just been put out of rugby by a shoulder injury incurred in a warm-up fixture against Toulon.
According to the ruling, a player has to be part of a match day squad for four games in order to qualify to play in the Finals Series of Super Rugby. Lambie has been limited to just three appearances, but Gold was hoping that common sense would prevail. After all, Lambie has played for the Sharks for several seasons and is the recognised regular Sharks captain.
So Gold was understandably shocked when he received a letter back saying that Lambie won’t be eligible if he doesn’t play four games. As Lambie could well be ready to play next week, and even at a push on Saturday, that has prompted some hurried meetings at the Sharks and the result is that Lambie is now going to be given until the day of the game to pass his cognitive tests for concussion.
If it is at all possible for him to be included on the bench, the Sharks will do that. Lambie just has to be part of the match day squad, he doesn’t have to actually get onto the field, in order to be eligible for the play-offs.
Lambie has been bracketed with Curwin Bosch for the Sunwolves game. It is likely that Bosch, who doesn’t qualify for the Finals Series because he’s made just one appearance, will drop out.
The ruling that could make Lambie ineligible for the play-offs is just one of a host that applies to the competition that requires urgent looking at. It is understandable that Rhyno Smith, who was recruited during the season from the Leopards, can’t be eligible for the Finals Series after playing just three games.
But former Western Province lock Ruan Botha will by the end of the Sunwolves game have made three appearances in a row since making his debut. He was on the Sharks books at the beginning of the season and was just out injured for the period before the June break.
The outflow of southern hemisphere players to the north has sapped the Super Rugby squads of enough depth as it is, and that means a waning in the quality of the rugby that is produced, for such a silly ruling to go unchallenged.
15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen (c), 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Garth April, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Tera Mtembu, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit
Substitutes: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Stefan Lewies, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Curwin Bosch/Pat Lambie, 23 Heimar Williams
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