Resident contributor, Shields, cautions against the hype around our teams following this weekend’s results.
Okay, so I am regularly berated on this site for advocating a fun-n-gun approach to rugby and seemingly do not care for results as long as the game is entertaining. I enjoy the banter even though I do realise many of you only get to watch rugby when your wives allow you to – hence the snotty remarks and the high levels of emotion on here at times.
However this weekend’s performance by saffa teams has made many bloggers pull a Brendon and get all happy-clappy about the running rugby we saw from our teams. Yes, right. Only problem is apart from the Bulls there really was not that much running rugby or enterprise from our teams. The Chiefs, in a losing match at Newlands; and the Bulls in a winning match in Auckland are the only teams eligible for the “Shields Prize for Rugby Enterprise and Distinction” (SPRED the love). These two teams not only played with confidence but also managed to use their backlines to create and round off try scoring opportunities. This is a key aspect of receiving a SPRED the love award. So congrats to the Chiefs and the Bulls!
Yet there is an aspect about our play this weekend that does fill me with warm and fuzzy: we played to win, not to avoid the loss.
My favourite game thus far in 2013 has been the low scoring match between Ireland and England in the 6 Nations championship earlier this year in Dublin. The reason this game stands out is because both teams really wanted the win and were willing to utilise every player on the field to try and gain an advantage.
And so we arrive at the “Shields Prize For Rugby Idiocy” (SPRI the shit) award. This award will be handed to (mostly South African) teams who through 80 minutes do everything in their power to avoid using their backline.
As this weekend has shown, a balanced approach is more likely to win you games. The Cheetahs remembered to tackle and the Bulls backed their talented backline to deliver the goods. Our teams for some unknown reason decided to go out and play with confidence, yet my fear is that we did so because we mistakenly believed we cannot win those games.
As a Cheetah fan I know full well how great we can be once we realise we cannot win anymore. Then the slick moves and angled running gets exhibited and we are on fire – until we are ahead, then we play like dooses again. I hope for the life of me that our teams did not this week suffer from this Cheetah complex.
Here’s my hope that our teams aim for SPRED the love awards this weekend, and not for SPRI the shit ones. If we do then maybe the SPRI the shit XV, otherwise known as the Springboks – might just surprise this year.