Bongi Mbonambi kisses the Challenge Cup Trophy after the Sharks win. Image: PA via Backpagepix

Sharks’ historic win: The stats that made it happen

The Sharks make history by winning the Challenge Cup, becoming the first South African team to claim a European rugby title.


Bongi Mbonambi kisses the Challenge Cup Trophy after the Sharks win. Image: PA via Backpagepix

The Sharks have made history as the first South African franchise to secure a win on one of Europe’s major stages – the Challenge Cup.

Their emphatic 36-22 victory over Gloucester at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium highlighted the potential of a team that has struggled with just four wins in 17 matches in the United Rugby Championship (URC).

Sharks Overcoming URC Challenges

Despite their difficulties in the URC, the Sharks’ triumph in the European Professional Club Rugby title will silence even their most severe critics for a while.

This victory is monumental as it marks the first time a South African team has claimed this prestigious title.

World Cup Winners’ Contribution

Many analysts attributed the Sharks’ success in London to the presence of World Cup-winning Springboks. Makazole Mapimpi, Grant Williams, Eben Etzebeth, Vincent Koch, Bongi Mbonambi, and Ox Nche played pivotal roles in this historic win.

Analysing Post-Match Stats

However, a detailed analysis of the post-match statistics reveals that non-Springboks also played crucial roles in the Sharks’ success.

One of the standout World Cup-winning players was scrumhalf Grant Williams. He retained six of his kicks against Gloucester – the highest number of retained kicks in a match this season. Williams’ performance was a key factor in the Sharks’ victory.

Siya Masuku’s Impressive Performance

Flyhalf Siya Masuku further bolstered his burgeoning reputation by scoring 21 of the Sharks’ 36 points in the Final.

He also contributed two try assists, showcasing his exceptional skill and playmaking ability.

Phepsi Buthelezi’s Dominance

No.8 Phepsi Buthelezi outperformed other players by beating more defenders, with a total of four, and scoring a try.

His performance highlighted his strength and agility on the field, playing a significant role in the Sharks’ victory.

James Venter’s Defensive Strength

Flank James Venter made four dominant tackles in the final – no other player managed more than one.

Venter’s defensive efforts were instrumental in securing the Sharks’ triumph.

A Historic Achievement for the Sharks

This victory in London is the Sharks’ first in an international final after four Super Rugby runners-up finishes.

The Sharks have demonstrated their ability to compete and succeed on the European stage, marking a significant milestone for South African rugby.

Looking Ahead

With this historic win, the Sharks have set a new benchmark for South African franchises in European competitions.

The team’s mix of experienced Springboks and rising stars like Masuku and Buthelezi suggests a promising future for the Sharks.


The Sharks’ victory in the Challenge Cup underscores their resilience and potential. As the first South African team to win a European Professional Club Rugby title, the Sharks have made history and established a new standard of excellence.