Springboks Masuku Williams Sharks SA rugby

The Sharks celebrate winning the Challenge Cup. Photo: SA Rugby website

Ex-Springbok star: Sharks were on same level as European giants

Former Springbok captain Bobby Skinstad believes the Sharks recently performed at the same level as Leinster and Toulouse.

Springboks Masuku Williams Sharks SA rugby

The Sharks celebrate winning the Challenge Cup. Photo: SA Rugby website

Last weekend the Sharks produced a near flawless display in beating Gloucester 36-22 in the Challenge Cup final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The Durbanites became the first South African side to win an EPCR competition, and it has earned them a place in next season’s Champions Cup.

“It was a magnificent performance,” former Springbok star Bobby Skinstad reflected during a URC round table. “They were almost flawless. Their individuals really came to the party. I was very pleased for them.

“They delivered the performance when it was needed at the right time. After a difficult season, they will be really pleased with what they have been able to achieve.

“It means, despite all the losses in the league and the negativity around that, they are able to leapfrog into the Champions Cup. So they will be delighted and I bet you they will be very competitive at that level.

“If you look at the two finals on the weekend, I feel the Sharks, Leinster and Toulouse were on the same level. That’s got to be positive for the Sharks. They will feel they can be competitive home and away.”

It is certainly a big claim considering just how strong star-studded Champions Cup finalists Leinster and Toulouse have been. But it will be music to the ears of Sharks fans, especially after a disappointing URC season.

The Sharks achieved redemption in the Challenge Cup

John Plumtree’s jubilant Sharks will conclude their URC league campaign by playing hosts to South African rivals, the high-flying Bulls, in Durban on Saturday.

They have only won four of their 17 URC matches this season, but Skinstad believes they will be determined to back up their Challenge Cup success by recording a derby day victory.

“I know John (Plumtree) and he is a very competitive man. He is a born winner,” he said. “The Bulls at home is a big match for the Sharks.

“I think we will see a full strength Sharks side. We will see them wanting to end the season on a high and being very difficult to beat at home, particularly with their current performance.

“They will be using that to say ‘Ok, let’s prove to ourselves that we should have been further up the table than 13th which we are not very proud of’.

“They are playing the Bulls, who are second, so they will be saying ‘Let’s make sure we give them a good hiding and make everybody sit up and take notice of what the Sharks will be next year’. That’s my gut feeling.”

Match information:

Stormers v Emirates Lions
Date: Saturday, 1 June
Venue: DHL Stadium, Cape Town
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
SA Time: 13h45
TV: SuperSport

Sharks v Vodacom Bulls
Date: Saturday, 1 June
Venue: Hollywoodbets Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Morne Ferreira
SA Time: 16h10
TV: SuperSport