More heartache predicted for SA teams in United Rugby Championships

But they will avoid Ireland's powerhouse franchises

07 October 2021 - 18:13 By LIAM DEL CARME
Bulls prop Lizo Gqoboka believes SA's teams will give a better account of themselves when they play at home in the URC.
Bulls prop Lizo Gqoboka believes SA's teams will give a better account of themselves when they play at home in the URC.
Image: Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images

Cheetahs defence coach Charl Strydom sees more heartache for SA's franchises in this weekend's United Rugby Championship (URC) clashes.

After two rounds the Lions, Stormers, Bulls and Sharks have registered just one win in their collective eight games and Strydom believes the steep learning curve will continue for now. Strydom, who was on the Cheetahs coaching staff when they campaigned in Pro14 from 2017 until 2020, the forerunner to the URC, says European sides are technically more proficient than the sides SA's teams encountered in Super Rugby.

“I can't see it improving this weekend,” said Strydom. “I think the SA teams will only really make an impact when they return and start playing at home. It will probably turn bad again when they have to play abroad after that because the weather will be a lot worse.

“There aren't a lot of silver linings for them at the moment. The problem is the criticism will also start mounting.”

No Irish teams looming large this weekend

This week, however, the South African teams all avoid the Irish powerhouses.

The Sharks, after defeats at Munster and Glasgow Warriors, take on the Ospreys and they've made significant changes. For starters, captain Phepsi Buthelezi is on the bench with the armband going to Thomas du Toit who is the only survivor from last week's starting front row. Ntuthuko Mchunu comes in for Khwezi Mona and Kerron van Vuuren for the injured Fez Mbatha.

The hulking frame of Le Roux Roets gets a break, while James Venter comes in for Dylan Richardson with Henco Venter moving to No 8.

Marius Louw and Jeremy Ward form the new centre pairing, while Marnus Potgieter and Anthony Volmink will fill the right wing and fullback positions respectively.

The Lions, the only South African team so far to register a win before losing to the Scarlets last week, have to come to terms with the loss of talented flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse. They play Glasgow Warriors and will now be relying on replacement flyhalf Eddie Fouche to bring more variety in attack. Hendrikse, though, will be missed.

Lions front up but they want more variety

The Lions have had a lot going for them up front but their toil there has not been commensurate with their activity on the scoreboard.

The Stormers, after losses at Benetton and Munster, are in Edinburgh, hoping for a more complete performance across the 80 minutes. They delivered impressive first halves in Treviso and last week in Limerick before being found wanting.

The Bulls, who have had to lament the playing surfaces and law interpretations in their defeats to Leinster and Connacht, square up to Cardiff Blues in the Welsh capital.

The Blues too have to atone for defeat last week but the South African side will look at this fixture as a genuine opportunity to break their duck.

Fixtures

Friday

Ospreys v Sharks — Swansea — 20.35

Saturday

Glasgow Warriors v Lions — Glasgow — 16.05

Edinburgh v Stormers — Edinburgh — 18.15

Cardiff Blues v Bulls — Cardiff — 20.35

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