Sharks head coach John Plumtree has urged the Durban-based outfit’s supporters to be patient as their poor start to the 2023/24 United Rugby Championship (URC) season continued with a loss to Zebre Parma on Friday.
The 12-10 reversal in Parma was a significant one as it was the Sharks’ fourth straight defeat of the campaign – after previous losses to Munster, Leinster and the Ospreys on their European tour – while Zebre secured their first URC victory since April last year.
In second stint as Sharks coach
Plumtree, who is in his second stint as Sharks head coach, took over the reins at the start of the season after director of rugby Neil Powell coached the team following Sean Everitt’s dismissal from his position at the end of 2022.
“When I came in I knew there would be no overnight fix, but what I can promise our fans is that we will do everything we can to get things right and do this jersey proud again,” Plumtree told IOL.
“I called for patience in the pre-season and it’s a difficult period right now because no one likes losing. I know that our loyal fans will stick by us and we will make you proud once again.”
The Sharks’ poor run of results means they are currently languishing at the bottom of the URC standings with just one point amassed from their four matches played so far.
Plumtree admitted to being disappointed in his team’s performance against Zebre, who had suffered lost 28 successive defeats over the past 18 months. The Sharks were their own worst enemies as they conceded a plethora of turnovers and committed numerous unforced errors.
“A lot of our basic skill sets let us down. Losing the aerial battle alone was key because it allowed them to dominate territory. The yellow and red card did not help the situation,” he said.
Some positive signs
“On a positive note, we had a couple of nice moments on attack but didn’t capitalise on the available opportunities. I was proud of the effort around our goal line defence and many young players stood up physically.
“This has been a disappointing tour and we have picked up some key injuries in the same positions, which have been tricky to navigate especially with eight of our Springboks unavailable.
“We could have picked up a win or two, but that didn’t happen. We are looking forward to getting back home now and will reset and continue to work hard to get some momentum going and improve our results at home.”