“I’ll tell you a funny story,” said John McFarland of his time at Stade Francais. “The original length of the grass (of the pitch) at the time was maybe two inches and you could get in a stud and everything, but the footballers didn’t like it, so he (the owner of the club) mowed it. He mowed a 4G pitch to make it shorter for the footballers.”
The synthetic grass the Sharks will be playing on is just one of the new experiences the Durban-based side must overcome when they face their first Scottish opposition in the shape of the Glasgow Warriors in the United Rugby Championship on Saturday (4pm kick-off).
Exeter Chiefs wing Jack Nowell expressed his disdain regarding the synthetic stuff in an interview with a rugby website. Nowell insisted that the recovery time after the match took much longer and that “the cuts are brutal. It’s crazy. You get boys having skin grafts.”
So, what should Sharks supporters expect? “Glasgow certainly hold on to the ball, they come around the corner from nine. Dave Rennie coached them when they were very successful with that style of play – going the full way across the field, going around from nine and 10. We’ve got to get set early, get off the line and make a good contest with our tackles.
“Edinburgh and Glasgow,” he continued, “will have a big influence from (Scotland coach) Gregor Townsend, so they will play with more ball-in-hand because of the pitch.”
“Certainly the players cannot be faulted for their effort – their tackling, and getting (stuck) into the opposition. That was our biggest positive. Our biggest problem (against Munster) was the penalties that put us in our 22, and put us under pressure.”