At long last, the ill-fated reign of Robert du Preez is over! That is the silver lining Sharks fans will take from their team’s abjectly disappointing 38-13 defeat to the Brumbies in yesterday’s Super Rugby quarter-final in Canberra.
If yesterday’s five tries-to-one defeat in the Australian capital was the high point of four years under the former Springbok scrumhalf, then his death knell was sounded by a final whistle that signalled yet another confirmation that the Sharks are Super Rugby’s most inconsistent team.
Given the rich calibre of players assembled at the Sharks under chief executive Gary Teichmann, they should have won the title long ago had they enjoyed a happier team culture, but yesterday they meekly capitulated, and so should the coach who has squandered the handsome resources at his disposal.
The players have deserved better and, most definitely, their supporters.
In truth, the taciturn, ill-humoured and obstinate Du Preez should have gone long ago had he had stronger-willed employers, but now the hitherto reactive Board of the Sharks surely have no option but to get proactive, pull their fingers out, and do what is best for the Sharks.
They have vacillated too long, allowing a bully of a coach to make lamentable selections on his way to seriously damaging a Sharks brand that was once arguably the most marketable one on the country.
In fact, the Super Rugby season for the Sharks ends with their brand a mockery of what it once was because of the coach’s triumphalistic attack in the media last week following a win over a Stormers side that was so weakened by injury that it approximated their side that will play in the Currie Cup.
Du Preez called the media “cockroaches” for daring to point out the folly of his ways, but the irony is that as he packs his bags at Jonsson Kings Park, it is he who will forever be remembered as Roach du Preez.
The Du Preez era will also be recalled as the time that he appeared to be doing his best to impede the career of Curwin Bosch, who just happened to be rivalling his son, Rob jr, for the flyhalf reins.
But Bosch shook off the shackles of coaching restraint and became arguably the best Shark of the 2019 season.
The opposite can be said of Du Preez jr, who was badly managed by a coaching staff that obstinately refused to recognise that the player desperately needed a break.
To be truthful, though, if anyone in the Sharks team was rendered a disservice this season it was Rob du Preez, followed shortly by Bosch.
The former was played into the ground to the detriment of his reputation, while the latter was not allowed to fully flourish.
Super Rugby semi-finals
Saturday, June 29:
2-Jaguares (Arg) v 3-ACT Brumbies (Aus), Buenos Aires (1.05am SA time kick-off)
1-Canterbury Crusaders (NZ) v 4-Wellington Hurricanes (NZ), Christchurch (9.35am)
Prefix denotes seeding, highest ranked team hosts final on Saturday, July 6