A Tour to Learn From

The Cell C Sharks emerged from their five week Vodacom United Rugby Championship tour a little battle weary after four tough and demanding matches against internationally-laden teams from Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

A final round defeat to Cardiff Rugby on Saturday night wasn’t in the planning and a reverse result would have no doubt put the team into a solid position after this crucial, but hugely challenging opening month.

“Very disappointed in the result,” admitted Cell C Sharks head coach Sean Everitt after his team went down 23-17.

“The guys put in a lot of effort, particularly in the second half, but we weren’t clinical enough to get over the line.”

With the possession stats shared but the Cell C Sharks enjoying 56% territory and forcing Cardiff to make 112 tackles to the Durbanites’ 100, the Welsh side managed to put in resolute defence, despite conceding almost 50% more penalties (13 to the Cell C Sharks’ 9).

“Had we scored one or two tries when we had the opportunity, it would have been a different story,” Everitt admitted.

Putting Cardiff under immense pressure for a large portion of the second half showed just how potentially dangerous the team is on attack, but also demonstrated the composure of a international team in soaking up pressure.

“If we look at this performance, the guys were under the pump in the first half and did extremely well to get us back into the game, only to spill opportunities close to the tryline and credit must go to the defence of Cardiff, I thought with a bit of luck we probably could have won this game.”

The team are now back at home as they continue to prepare, but with greater experience under the belt and from a learning point of view, it has been an incredible experience for South Africa’s rugby teams engaged in a brand new competition as they come to terms with novel challenges.

“One has to look at the tour as a whole. I believe all the South African franchises have made a remarkable improvement. It is tough playing away from home, those are lessons learned by the boys.

“It’s also about being clinical at the highest level and at tomes on this trip, we just weren’t as good as we should have been.”

“But as whole the guys have grown a lot, as a group, the youngsters had opportunities in Europe which will stand us in good stead going forward.

“We look forward to getting home and hopefully playing in front of our fans again.”

The Cell C Sharks’ next match is a round 6 clash against the Scarlets for a third consecutive match against Welsh opposition, taking place on Saturday 27 November.