By Lucky Vince Pienaar
Sharks coach John Plumtree has declared himself “disappointed” with the performance of his Springboks in their match against the Bulls on Saturday.
Well, of course, he is! But a coach blaming the players for their poor performance is like a motorist blaming the tyre for driving into a pothole.
The Sharks lost 44-10 to the Bulls in Pretoria, leaked six tries, managed just one penalty and were awarded a lucky penalty try.
There is no doubt that the returning Springboks were poor.
The only time the mighty Eben Etzebeth was seen was when he was going backwards. The way Stedman Gans ran over Makazoli Mapimpi as if he wasn’t there was embarrassing. Ox Nche came onto the field and achieved nothing.
Along with Jaden Hendrikse and Grant Williams, amongst others, these are players who went toe to toe with the best in the world a month ago at the World Cup and came out victorious, and now they were humbled in a local derby.
Every time captain Lukhanyo Am has pulled the Sharks jersey over his head his contribution as both captain and player has been almost worthless and Saturday was no different.
What Plumtree could have said was that they have been waiting for the returning Springboks to turn a losing team into a winning outfit and now they’ve let them down.
Neil Powell, once the great Blitzboks coach and now Director of Sharks Rugby, has watched the Sharks team going steadily backwards with him as the makeshift coach. It’s still not clear why he fired coach Sean Everitt and it’s hard to say what he expected John Plumtree to achieve.
Plumtree was dismissed from the All Blacks side after they lost 2-1 to Ireland in New Zealand. Admittedly, under Ian Foster, it must have been hard to shine.
And now, with underperforming Neil Powell as his boss, sooner or later history is going to repeat itself.
Sure, the players are there for the money. It is their work. But rugby, more than any other game, cannot be played just for money. It is too painful and it requires commitment and courage. And that is the ingredient that the coaches add to the mix.
Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber have proven that over and over, but if that is a little unfair, then look at what Jake White has done with the Bulls.
If ever you needed proof that winning teams are built and not bought, the way the Sharks collapsed against the Bulls on Saturday, is ample proof of that.
And John Plumtree blaming these players, implies that he believes he is doing a great job and that borders on arrogance. If he isn’t going to look for the main problem by looking into the mirror, then things are going to go from bad to worse.
Pictured above: The Sharks.
Image source: X