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Thu Apr 24 16:16:41 SAST 2014

Sharks win can savage markets

Archie Henderson | 06 August, 2012 07:390 Comments

IT'S just as well the Sharks lost. We have been spared another recession, according to John Loos.

Last week Loos poked his head into the scrum with a bunch of graphs that showed how, every time the Sharks won something, the country's economy was knocked back in the tackle.

It must be a good economic theory because Business Day carried it twice on the same day. It seems Loos, who works for a big bank, reads those thick Saturday property supplements, then goes to the sports pages - and mixes up the two.

According to Loos, the country's financial woes started when the Sharks (still plain Natal of Last Outpost of Empire fame) were promoted from the B Section of the Currie Cup in 1984.

That was about the time when Springbok captain Wynand Claassen moved from Pretoria and the Blue Bulls to Durban to start up his architecture business. It was a cultural shift for our Wynand but he seemed to have fitted in well with the Engelse, except when it came to the lineout codes.

In those days, Natal would shout a word starting with the letter U when they wanted the ball at the back of the lineout, a position Wynand was to occupy for some seasons in the black and white.

In his first game for Natal, Wynand decided he wanted the ball and came up with "onion". The hooker was perplexed; the call should start with a 'U'. Wynand apparently thought onion did.

Whether Natal won the lineout is forgotten, but the following year a recession began, and lasted until 1986.

It's not clear if the team was aware of the effect it was having on the economy, but it was about to get a new name. The Banana Boys, as Natal had been called since just after the rinderpest, became the Sharks. The local sports press, not always at the cutting edge of change, was aghast. But Sharks it stayed; and it became the most famous rugby "brand" in a game which now also talks about "franchises" and "conferences" as if they sell fast foods at conventions for property analysts.

The Sharks' marketing became so successful that almost every second car seemed to sport a logo on its tail.

They even established their own club in Claremont, the very heart of WP rugby.

Together with that bit of fifth-column infiltration, and winning the Currie Cup for the first time, they brought about "the mother of all recessions" in 1990 that lasted three years. The economy picked up as the Sharks' fortunes dipped, but when they won the Currie Cup in 2008 the world went into an immediate recession, Loos now reveals.

Are governments aware of the danger that a winning Sharks team holds for the global economy? The World Bank, those people at Davos, the International Monetary Fund and other movers and shakers need to be told.

Personally, I have no grudge against the Sharks. I have always found them to be gracious winners. At their most recent Currie Cup final victory, a Sharks fan turned to comfort a lost soul in a blue-hooped jersey.

"Never mind, mate," said the Shark to the WP bloke. "A bad weekend in Durban is better than a good one in Cape Town."

A bit harsh, but well-meant, and at least the Province fan didn't lose his savings.

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