ON THE EDGE
Thu, 09 May 2013 18:45
Werner Barnard is the latest reader to win our Maybru competition with this response to Quintin van Jaarsveld's column 'Final nail in Sharks’ coffin'.
What is that about history repeating it self, voodoo, implosions, mental strength and the team from Kings Park?
Draw a simple line graph and put the Sharks’ Super Rugby performances from 1996 to 2012 on it and you will see a trend of one good season followed by a downward spiral and then suddenly right back up then the down again.
Looks kind of like a Shark if you stretch it out wide enough, but why? Can it be that the Sharks need a witch doctor more than they need a shrink?
From the top: Look, the Auckland Blues team of 1996 and 1997 was unstoppable, so they (the Sharks) preformed admirably during those times. 1998 was the first real opportunity - there was no-one from South Africa challenging them, they had a settled team, lots of players in their prime, exciting youth and a good experienced coach.
They fell agonisingly close against the Crusaders to book a Final with the out-of-sorts Blues and even then one felt whoever won the semi would go on to win the Final. But history will show you that the Crusaders won and built a formidable foundation from that championship and the Sharks ship was sunken as they went from runners-up to average (1999) to just downright poor (2000).
But so is the resilience of the franchise that they were right back in 2001 with almost the same attributes as in 1998. This time around the Brumbies was the next great thing cruising to victory in the Final and building a legacy from there. This time around there was no quick turnaround from the franchise as they slumped again to average (2002), then poor (2003 and 2004) and then to just simply mediocre (2005).
Finally a youthful squad was assembled in 2006 that did well and went on to topping the table in 2007 but yet again they failed to establish that championship-winning aura this time against the Bulls.
The Bulls won their first trophy and built their own foundation and legacy from there. Sadly the slump pattern again surfaced from average to poor and right back in 2012. Surely there has to be a logical explanation, or is there?
How can so many different coaches, structures and players from so many different eras with so many different ideals suffer the same fate? Make the same mistakes? Follow the same pattern?
Are they not managing their goals correctly?
The teams that took their thunder out of them had decent squads that were acquired and developed over time, but still, all these sides took roughly the same time as the Sharks did on all four occasions.
Did they label themselves as being better than they really are? Possible, but I seriously doubt that because how do you win so much games and make so many play-offs?
Could it be that they only really have a history of being serious contenders from 1990? Sure, but even that is a long time ago and Super Rugby only started in 1996, so all teams began with a clean sheet.
The Bulls, Brumbies, Crusaders and Blues had a quiet time of late but they need no introduction to winning trophies all they need to do is believe again.
But what could have been if the Sharks did the impossible in 1996 or even the possible in 1998? One thing is for sure, they must somehow forget the past completely because it is never too late to start a championship-winning legacy.
But for now, while the 2013 season followed the same pattern and slumped to average again, I am going over the top and saying that I don’t think the Sharks needs a shrink to get them into the right mental state to start winning finals because they are seriously being haunted by ghosts of Super Rugbys past!
By Werner Barnard
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