Cape Town – Nizaam Carr is a born-and-bred Capetonian, but he must be hurting deep down inside after his Bulls side went down for a sixth time in a row to the Stormers in the United Rugby Championship last weekend.
Having turned 32 last month, Carr has seen and experienced most things in the rugby world, following five Springbok Test caps, nearly 100 Stormers games, a five-year association with Wasps in England and now a second stint at the Bulls.
But it may be the first time that he has been part of a rugby side that have lost six consecutive encounters to the same opponents – and eight if you include Western Province’s two Currie Cup wins over the Blue Bulls this season.
Not long before that it was Jake White’s team who dominated John Dobson’s Western Province and Stormers teams in the Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup competitions.
“It’s very tough, but they have beaten us six times, and we also have to look at ourselves and try to do something different,” Carr said this week, following the 33-21 defeat at the Cape Town Stadium.
“But the Stormers are a really good team – we must give that to them. We can’t shy away from the fact that we are not the front-runners now. The Stormers are a team we can look at and work from.
“They have a well-balanced squad, with the forwards and backs linking well. They’ve got a set-piece and good striking, attacking players who can mix it up with physicality, as well as flair. They have good combinations going for them.
“But it’s no different here at the Bulls. It’s just one of those things where the results have gone against us – and it happens to be once, twice, six times!
“We are on the short end of the stick at the moment, but we will continue working hard, and the wheel will turn. We’ve just got to keep believing in the group and keep fighting.”
That fight continues in the Currie Cup over the next few weeks, starting with tomorrow’s clash against Griquas in Kimberley (3pm kick-off).
The Bulls are languishing in seventh position on 17 points, and with five league games left, they need to catch up to Griquas, who were fourth on 23 at the time of writing.
“We have to tighten up a few things… For me, it’s just... basic stuff. I think we put ourselves in really good positions, and then one or two errors cost us, or we give away a penalty and they kick to the corner… ,” Carr said.
“I don’t think we are miles off where we want to be, but the lapses in our game are creeping up on us and it’s costing us.
“This competition is very tough – any mistake, the opposition capitalise on it. We don’t mean to make mistakes, but we can’t afford one to 15 giving away a penalty or knock-on – that’s 15 penalties already. If we can cut that out, then the results will go better for us.
“Unfortunately it didn’t go our way, and our attention shifts now to the Currie Cup, and to win it for the third time (with the Bulls) would be really special.
“But as you can imagine, it’s really sad to be knocked out in the URC, and previously in the Champions Cup.
“So, not the best for us, but we have a lot of ambition and want to bring silverware home. We fell short and there are a lot of things we can work on going forward – some major stuff, some minor tweaks here and there.
“But I’m sure we will get there with the quality we’ve got in our group. The players are really buying into what we want to do and the coaches are always coming up with ideas to combat the European teams.”