The Sharks have laid out their Super Rugby preseason including two clashes against the Russia national team in Durban.
The early start to the season has forced the Sharks into preparation in the sweltering heat of Durban in January, and it looks like the Black and White Dynamite are taking a low-key approach.
A Sharks XV will take on Russia on Kings Park’s B-field this Friday (10 January) at 17:00, the match will be preceded by another warm-up game against Varsity Cup side NWU-Pukke (From Potchefstroom) at 15:00 on the same field.
The second match against Russia will also take place on Kings Park’s outer fields and is scheduled for next Friday (17 January).
Like the other four South African Super Rugby franchises, the Sharks will round off their warm-up schedule at Super Hero Sunday. The exhibition event took place in Cape Town last season when the Bulls took on the Sharks and the Lions faced the Stormers. This season we will see a coastal derby between the Stormers and Sharks and a trans-Jukskei battle between the Bulls and Lions at the FNB Stadium.
Russia took part in the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifying through a controversial European qualifying tournament where all five teams where accused of fielding ineligible players. Russia and Germany were cleared of wrongdoing by an independent panel sending the Bears to their second Rugby World Cup.
Russia gave Japan a hard time in portions of their opening match at the tournament and proved a stubborn opponent for Samoa and Ireland before being thumped by Scotland.
A fresh start for the Sharks
The Sharks will be coached by Sean Everitt in his maiden season in charge of a Super Rugby franchise and he will be asked to work wonders with a young squad.
The Durban-based team lost five key players to their Premiership namesakes from Sale throughout 2019. While they have recruited a few players from other Unions most notably prop Ox Nche from the Cheetahs, flanker Sikhumbuzo Notshe from the Stormers and Centre Werner Kok from the Blitzboks.
The Sharks will start their Super Rugby campaign against the Bulls at Kings Park on Friday 31 January 2020 before hitting the road for their overseas tour. Their first stop is Dunedin for the opening clash of the Antipodean tour, taking on the Highlanders (Friday 7 Feb) and then the Hurricanes (Saturday 15 Feb) before heading to Australia where the Rebels await (Saturday 22 February). The four-week tour will close off against the Reds at the end of February.