Currie Cup Final by the numbers
WHAT HISTORY TELLS US: Discussing the past performances of teams is at best merely interesting and refers to what has been.
However, looking at the past performances of a group of players who are still active, gives one a perspective of the present and perhaps the short-term future.
This latter part of history is the one where the Bulls may have an advantage over the Sharks for Saturday’s Currie Cup Final.
(To read our preview – with teams and predictions – CLICK HERE)
In the Sharks’ matchday squad of 23 are five players who have previous experience of a Currie Cup Final.
Their captain Lukhanyo Am, flyhalf Curwin Bosch, Marius Louw and Thomas du Toit all played in the 2017 Final against Western Province in Durban, won by the Cape side.
Retshegofaditswe Nché’s Final was in Bloemfontein against the Bulls in 2016, with the Cheetahs taking the spoils.
Bulls coach Jake White has named 26 players, three of whom will be cut from the oversized bench before Saturday’s match.
Two of their players, veterans Duane Vermeulen (34) and Morné Steyn (36), have played in four Finals each; Nizaam Carr in three; and Jacques van Rooyen (for the Lions) and , Arno Botha (for the Blue Bulls) in one Final each.
Vermeulen played in the Cheetahs team against the Lions in 2007 and then for Western Province when they lost to the Sharks in 2010 and won in 2012 (both in Durban) and also in 2013 when the Sharks beat WP at Newlands.
Steyn was in the Blue Bulls team that lost to the Cheetahs at Loftus in 2005, drew with them in Bloemfontein the following year, lost to the Sharks in 2008 and beat the Cheetahs at Loftus in 2009.
Carr was in WP’s team in 2014 (beat Lions at Newlands, lost to them at Ellis Park in 2015) and beat the Sharks in Durban in 2017.
Van Rooyen played for the Lions against Carr in 2015 and Botha was in the Blue Bulls team that was well-beaten by the Free State in Bloemfontein in 2016.
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For the record
The Sharks’ supporters will be fairly upbeat if they want to use the Sharks’ performances in Finals as a guideline to the outcome of Saturday’s match.
They have played in 18 Finals, winning eight – with six of those away from Kings Park. Only two of the Sharks’ eight titles were won in Durban.
The Bulls have won 14 of their 17 Currie Cup Finals at Loftus and produced nine more victories (including four draws) away from Pretoria.
The match winners
Over the years individual scoring feats in many instances took their teams to glory.
In Saturday’s match, the two first-choice kickers for the Bulls and Sharks, Steyn and Bosch, are the possible candidates to achieve this.
The game of rugby has, however, changed over the years – which could well put paid to a major individual points contribution. Also, the replacement rule may well see (especially) Steyn substituted.
For the record, the Bulls have the bragging rights when it comes to individual scoring records in the past, some of which are listed below:
* Most points by a player in a Final: 26 (1 try, 5 penalties, 2 conversions) Derick Hougaard (Blue Bulls v Lions 2002).
* Most tries by a player in Finals: Four – Ettienne Botha (Blue Bulls) (2003 and 2004, two in each Final)
Most drop goals in a Final: 4 Naas Botha (v Transvaal in 1987)
* Oldest winning captain: Thys Lourens (35 years 138 days) (Northern Transvaal)
* Youngest winning captain: Naas Botha (22 years 217 days) (Northern Transvaal)
* Most wins as a coach: Buurman van Zyl (eight, including a draw with WP in 1979)
Interestingly, Naas Botha scored 135 drop-goals and 1699 points in Currie Cup matches and 138 points in his 11 Finals. This is a record for Finals played which is shared with team-mate Burger Geldenhuys.