Is Sharks Coach Robert Du Preez Still The Man For The Job?

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Cell C Sharks Coach
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 31: Sharks coach Robert du Preez during the round sevens Super Rugby match between the Blues and the Sharks at Eden park on March 31, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The Cell-C Sharks Coach, Robert Du Preez, has now been at the helm for two Super Rugby seasons. In that time, the Durban based franchise has failed to find the form that was expected by fans. We now have to start asking the question – is he still the right man for the job?

Sharks Coach Robert Du Preez Not Finding His Rhythm

Every new coach in charge of a professional rugby franchise hopes for one thing, to hit the ground running. Though very few get out of the blocks and start their tenure off with a winning season. Its usually accepted by fans that new coaches need a bit of time to adjust to the team and organizational culture. Usually new coaches try their own thing anyway. Sometimes it works, other times it clearly doesn’t.

The current Sharks’ coach started in 2016 with the Currie Cup team. He was then asked to take over the Super Rugby duties after the sudden exit of Gary Gold. Before that, Robert Du Preez was coaching the first division Currie Cup side from Potchefstroom, the Leopards. He joined the Sharks as a back-line attack coach, then got the nod to take over the reigns as Currie Cup coach. After Gold’s exit, it made sense to promote the ex-scrumhalf to take charge of the flagship squad.

Sharks Cannot Find Consistent Form

Two seasons in charge is usually more than enough to gauge the coach’s performance. In most Super Rugby franchises, you would be lucky to keep your job after two unsuccessful campaigns. Three and the union would definitely be looking to replace you. Du Preez is now looking down the barrel of a second successive failed season, although his roster should be more capable than most.

Studying the Sharks record from the 2018 season, there’s plenty to be concerned about. While they were competitive against some of the best teams, beating three out of the four New Zealand teams they faced this season, they slipped up against some of the more questionable sides. They lost against the Reds and the Rebels, not to mention receiving a hiding from the Vodacom Bulls at home. Some of us will remember that haggard and despondent Press Conference by Du Preez following the game…

Sharks Coach Robert Du Preez & Sons

Add to this the fact that he’s got all three of his sons playing at the franchise, he has opened himself up for some criticism. If you are going to select your own sons to start, you need to ensure you and their performances are above any suspicion. This hasn’t materialized and so, it is fair for people to start asking questions. Are the team’s cohesiveness and camaraderie being adversely affected by the father-son dynamic? Should Dan, Jean-Luc and Robert Junior really be considered the best players available, week in and week out? Are other players receiving the same guidance and consideration as the coach’s sons?

Any schoolboy player who has ever been coached by a team-mates’ father know that there are niggling thoughts that arise in such a team. In fact, it is generally frowned upon unless the player is a superstar. For the Sharks flanker, Jean-Luc Du Preez, that is certainly the case. But does the same apply for the other two brothers?

Regular Fly-Half, Rob Du Preez, has buckled under pressure, both in the Sharks jersey and in Springbok colours. While Dan Du Preez doesn’t seem to have the same impact as his twin brother, Jean-Luc. He was definitely more effective off the bench this season.

No Immediately Apparent Alternative Options

Apart from getting Dick Muir to retake his position as Sharks coach from 2006, there are no other immediate options which readily spring to mind. Most of the recognized Super Rugby coaches are either in long term deals at International squads, or finding success at historically weaker Super Rugby teams. Some, such as Jamie Joseph, are doing both. Dick Muir is currently in the assistant coaching position at the Sharks and had an impressive stint as head coach in 2006 and 2007. Maybe he should be tapped back in and take over from Du Preez. In any event, Sharks Chief Executive Gary Teichmann, would not be faulted if he started looking for a replacement in the near future.

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Cornelius is a long serving analyst and rugby fanatic, now trying his hand at some in depth game and tournament dissemination. Cornelius' love for Rugby was solidified in 1995 when the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup after South Africa became a democratic nation. He has always believed that sport, although dividing us on the pitch, is the best tool to bring us all together. After school, he traveled and worked in the UK, before returning to South Africa and working as a data analyst for a utility company. He has also worked in the Middle East (Egypt), and upon returning in 2017, started writing part time.

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