Although there are three brothers in the Sharks team that won the Currie Cup at Newlands on Saturday‚ it was a theme of ‘brother for brother’ that was at the heart of the triumph.
The Sharks beat Western province 17-12 at Newlands to capture their eighth Currie Cup title and first in five years.
It was an upset considering they were beaten 50-28 at Newlands in pool play earlier in the campaign.
Coach Robert du Preez‚ whose three sons‚ flyhalf Rob‚ and twins in the back row‚ Dan and Jean-Luc‚ all played significant roles in the win.
But it was the theme of brotherhood that underpinned the collective performance according to Du Preez senior.
“I have to give credit to this group of players‚ and particularly [Currie Cup captain] Chiliboy [Ralepelle]‚ who played a magnificent leadership role throughout the whole season‚” Du Preez senior said.
“We have had a theme over the past couple of weeks called “brother for brother”. It’s all about playing for each other‚ and the whole squad has to be commended for that.
“Province are a great team and they played some fantastic rugby‚ so to come into their backyard and get the win is pleasing.
“Juan Schoeman [prop] actually came up with the brother for brother idea in a leadership meeting‚ and everyone bought into it. It was about the team coming first and the individual second.
“Again I must give credit to Chili‚ he played off the bench in the playoffs‚ but he has been just magnificent as a leader.”
Ralepelle watched as fellow Bok hooker Akker van der Merwe usurped him this season‚ but he remained a committed performer throughout the season.
“The message and theme was quite simple‚ it’s about playing for one another‚” Ralepelle reiterated.
“We wanted to become tighter when it’s tougher‚ and that’s what we had to do in this game.
‘When we didn’t have the ball‚ or were playing in our half‚ we stayed composed and kept our discipline.
“The thing is‚ when you make a mistake‚ you need to know your brother is there to help you out‚ but that you also need to show how much you want to fix the mistake.”
Du Preez believes that this win could give them a boost going into the 2019 Super Rugby season.
“This is a massive win for the union‚ coupled with the fact that the under-19s won the title too while playing some fantastic rugby‚” Du Preez said.
“We have to keep on building on this and I believe we have the squad to be a force in Super Rugby next year.”