Former Sharks centre Brad Barritt has opened up on the team’s loss to the Vodacom Bulls in the 2007 Vodacom Super Rugby final.
In the first all South African Super Rugby final since the tournament’s inception in 1996, the Sharks hosted the Bulls at Kings Park in Durban.
Despite leading by six points going into overtime, the Sharks were handed a defeat when Bulls wing Bryan Habana received the ball out wide and stepped his way through the defence to score near the poles in the very last play of the match. Bulls flyhalf Derek Hougaard added the conversion to give the Bulls their maiden Super Rugby title.
Barritt – who was 20 years old when he started in the final – spoke exclusively to Sky Sports in a podcast series entitled ‘One That Got Away’ and recounted the events of the match and how it has haunted him since.
‘I did my best to scour through a few clips and I was very soon reminded of the few instances throughout the game where we could have closed it off, and that’s probably the one thing that anybody involved with that Sharks team really can’t put to bed.
‘You have the game all but won for 79 minutes of it, and I think everyone who was involved in that experience would have learned a hell of a lot in that time,’ Barritt said. ‘More importantly, it’s one that we really struggle to forget and get over that we didn’t win.
‘What cascaded in that last minute is something that most of the team will regret forever,’ Barritt explained.
‘I do vividly recall a phase of play going on for three or four minutes, and within it, I think there were two opportunities where we had possession and if we’d kicked it out, the game would have ended.
‘And that’s probably why it is such a big regret and hurts so much for Sharks players. Ultimately the game was done … but there was a bit of panic, overexcitement.
‘He [Habana] broke our hearts, broke Sharks hearts all over the country. The feeling that absorbed me at the time was one of isolation, feeling like there was a bubble around you and a total out-of-body experience.
‘I’ll never forget Jaco van der Westhuyzen climbing on to the bars at Kings Park and celebrating. It was a very bitter pill to swallow and I’ve probably never spoken about it at length like this before.
‘As a young player, I remember the tears that were flowing in the Sharks changing room. Grown men, guys I respected so much, absolutely being in bits about it.
‘And I’m not lying to you, I probably had sleepless nights for about a month afterwards. You woke up with this feeling of, “Wow, this could have been so memorable”, but that’s the beauty of sport in so many ways.
‘There’s nothing you can take for granted, and that’s something that’s lived with me since then.’
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