Situation critical

May 25, 2010
Posted by

For years the Sharks have lead South African rugby, if not world rugby, in the way they market their brand and team oozing success at all levels, but it seems to me that lately they are doing their level best to destroy all this.

Twenty years ago the Sharks emerged from South African rugby’s version of middle-earth in the most spectacular fashion, winning the Currie Cup in their centenary year in a spectacular final against the much fancied Blue Bulls.

Since that day, Sharks rugby went from strength to strength and basically ruled rugby on the local scene in the 1990’s, creating one of the most powerful brands in world rugby.

Not only did they control things on the pitch producing Springboks left, right and center, but their administration was the envy of rugby unions all over the world.  It was the union everyone wanted to play for or become like.

Now fast forward to today.

In recent years the Sharks have fumbled and stumbled both on and off the pitch.

Sure there was successes in reaching the 2007 Super 14 final and winning the Currie Cup in 2008, but in-between and following that one cannot help think that the Sharks brand and playing ability have slowly regressed to the point where even the most ardent of supporter has to be asking himself what the hell the union is up to?

They have lost players (not always under the best of circumstances) the likes of Brad Barritt (top performer in the Guinness Premier League currently), Frans Steyn (revelation in the French Top 14) and Butch James who recently was very critical about the union and the way they deal with people.

Then there was the hired guns in Hernandez, Goode and now Pretorius it seems who if we are honest, failed and/or boggled the mind…  Even the acquisition of Steve Meyer left a very sour taste after he inexplicably retired from rugby just after arriving in Durban.

To add to all this we had the very public and very ugly legal wrangling between the Sharks and the Lions regarding the services of Louis Ludik (who has yet to prove his worth in gold) and Willem Alberts.  They did win both those battles, but the lessons learned from these two situation should surely have taught and prepared the Sharks for their dealings with Lionel Mapoe which has now also gone the legal dispute route with the Cheetahs president, Harold Verster, insisting that Mapoe is legally contracted to the Cheetahs and they will not give him a release certificate.

Now all of a sudden rumours are also flying around that the Sharks are set to lose their inspirational skipper and stalwart John Smit and yet another talented back in Ruan Pienaar.

It is also not really an option for the Sharks union to hide their apparent administrative shortcomings and fall back on or point to recent performances on the field since that too has frankly been rubbish of late where they were knocked out in the semi-finals of the Currie Cup last year by the Cheetahs and only managed a disappointing 9th on the Super 14 log.

And whether true or untrue, rumours about rifts in the Sharks camp has not helped their cause in any way.

Essentially, the once powerful and successful PR machine at work in the Sharks which created that enviable brand in the early 90’s and early 21st century has all but disappeared as the union seem to struggle from one legal battle to the next, squashing unsavoury rumours or trying to justify player performances.

Sitting from the outside looking in, it seems the Sharks management and administration failed to move with the times failing to re-invent themselves to stay ahead of the pack in what now has become to a neutral observer nothing more than an outdated old boys club.

The Sharks are too good and too important for SA Rugby to continue the way they are doing now, and it is about time someone does something about it.

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6 Comments

  1. avatar manvanstaal says:
    May 25th, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Oom Rudi wil seker n staaldraad kamp hou.

  2. avatar WiLLem says:
    May 25th, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Yip buLLshit/ marketing can get to to the top simetimes- but it wont kEEp you there!

  3. avatar Boertjie says:
    May 25th, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Ja, hulle sal uitvind hul
    eie medisyne smaak sleg.

  4. avatar fyndraai says:
    May 26th, 2010 at 2:20 am

    They need to re-think the main sponsor logo on their supporter shirts too.

    Fans with their MR PRICE shirts look stupid enough in South Africa but anybody that wear that shirt in Europe or North America must be a complete idiot.

  5. avatar DavidS says:
    May 26th, 2010 at 9:54 am

    …..

    Ja and of course the way they dumped campese and then claimed the 2007 backline success was down to Dick Muir…. only to have the Sharks backline fumble again in 2008…

    That was a sour taste…

    I recall our Robdillon defending the Sharks administration on that score but you just knew it was PR bull excretion…

    I personally think that going for a kit sponsor like Reebok is a bit soccer and a bit gay…

    Should have stuck with Canterbury or gone to Gilbert…. or ISC or at worst Puma who do sponsor a couple of rugby teams…. but Reebok…

    Eish….

    Ja I also think it’s the Sharks PR machine that says they dominated the 1990′s.

    Ja and the next thing the chequebook comes out to save Sharks rugby yet again…

    Only this time Lions and Cheetahs players are on the menu…

  6. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    May 26th, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Reply to DavidS @ 9:54 am:

    Yes Dawie… Campese left the Sharks to front DHS (Durban High School) on plausibly the highest fee EVER for a head rugby coach (fronted by parents) only to fail miserably and head back to Aus with his tail betwicks his legs… leaving DHS with 62-0 PLUS drubbings by all and sundry… so respectfully I disagree mate…

    DHS are only just over-coming the financial burden and are only getting 20 something drubbings now…

    Campese has NEVER contributed ANYTHING meaningful ANYWHERE in rugby union other than his playing days!

    He’s a leper…

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