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Ken Borland


The John McFarland Column: Coaching changes aplenty as SuperRugby returns 0

Posted on February 15, 2018 by Ken

 

It is really exciting to have rugby starting again in the Southern Hemisphere this weekend and what I’m really looking forward to is having a traditional South African Saturday afternoon braai here while watching the rugby, something I won’t be getting in freezing Japan when I return there.

SuperRugby is a ‘new’ competition this year with 18 teams having been cut to 15, supposedly to ensure more closer contests and greater competitiveness. But I do have my reservations because SuperRugby must be the only competition in the world where over 50% of the competing teams make the playoffs, apart from the Currie Cup of course!

Despite eight teams making it through to the quarterfinals, there are clearly only a few places up for grabs, and you can pretty much see already the teams that aren’t going to make it – the Melbourne Rebels, Queensland Reds, Sunwolves, Jaguares and one New Zealand side.

I would say the Kiwi team to miss out will probably be the Chiefs because they are under new management and have lost some massive names – Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Liam Messam, Michael Leitch and most importantly coach Dave Rennie.

And then there will be two South African sides that miss out. I’m pessimistic about our chances because of our SuperRugby record in New Zealand over the last six years, which is nothing to brag about. We can beat New Zealand teams in South Africa, but it is a whole different kettle of fish doing it away from home – and those are the points you have to get in order to succeed in SuperRugby.

The other thing about the rule that eight out of 15 teams qualify for the knockout rounds is that it makes bonus points very necessary for teams to pick up, so it has been pleasing to see the stated attacking intent of our franchises. But because you only get a bonus point by finishing three clear tries ahead of your opponents, that means teams have to defend as well.

In terms of the South African teams, there have been many changes in coaching set-up.

The Bulls have a fresh coaching team and I know they have been working hard and it will be interesting to see how they go. Having been to training at Loftus Versfeld, they certainly look in good shape, for which you have to credit the conditioning staff and John Mitchell.

The Bulls do have certain strengths, especially at hooker and their lock pairings, and the spine of their team is quite strong – hooker, the locks, eighthman, scrumhalf, flyhalf and fullback all look good. I suppose we can be not entirely sure about scrumhalf because Ivan van Zyl and Embrose Papier have got just two SuperRugby appearances between them. How those two cope with the step up to SuperRugby will be crucial; they are both certainly talented and this is now their chance and their time. These days scrumhalf is a young man’s position because it’s all about energy and work-rate.

The Bulls have a very tough start to the competition and how they get through that will be key. They play three New Zealand teams and the Lions in their first five games and if they can come through that with a positive ledger then they will really be contenders.

The Stormers have obviously lost a lot of quality centres and the injuries around their locks is also a concern. It’s interesting to see the changing roles of their coaching staff  and how that works out.

The Stormers were certainly a real handful in Cape Town last year with their offloading game and the way they scored tries. They will now have even more danger on the wings with the players they’ve added, but the big question mark will be how they defend away from home.

They obviously have problems at flyhalf after losing their lynchpin from last year in Robert du Preez, who really made a difference in the Currie Cup final with his control and ability to dictate field position, as well as his immaculate goal-kicking.

Unfortunately the Stormers have a real draw from hell after being in relatively easy Super 18 pools, but if they get a good start then they obviously can be playoff contenders.

The Sharks have also made changes to their coaching set-up. Dick Muir has come back to Durban and they are obviously not going to die wondering in terms of attack.

They have also made some astute signings like Du Preez and Makazole Mapimpi, and with Japanese players like Philip van der Walt and Andre Esterhuizen coming back, they should certainly be a handful. It’s also going to be interesting to watch Thomas du Toit’s move to tighthead after the Sharks scrum was demolished by Western Province in the Currie Cup final.

The Sharks do have a quality, big forward pack and if they keep them all fit and start well (they have a couple of nice games at home early on), that should bear them in good stead.

The Lions have also undergone a change in coaching staff, making appointments from within the franchise and giving guys their first chance at SuperRugby level, although Swys de Bruin has been there through all their recent success. It will be interesting to see how he steps up to being head coach and how well the Lions ride the loss of the Ackermanns, father and son.

The Lions’ strength is in their centres, with Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster and Rohan Janse van Rensburg certainly a quality trio. How the Lions accommodate all three of them through the season will be interesting.

The key for the Lions is that the spine of their team are now all seasoned Test players – Andries Coetzee, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Warren Whiteley and Malcolm Marx – so their core is still very strong.

It’s vital that they make a good start and they have always had strong set-pieces, so it will also be interesting to see how that evolves under new forwards coach Phillip Lemmer because the Lions have always scored a lot of tries through driving mauls and lineout special plays. Will that strength still be there?

The Sunwolves will be in action next week and they will certainly be stronger this year, they have a whole host of foreign players and the rest are basically the Japan national squad working towards the next World Cup. They are also under the former Highlanders pairing of Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown, who are very experienced SuperRugby coaches.

Once again the Kiwi franchises are the ones to beat, but obviously the British Lions’ success in New Zealand in June gave a little blueprint to teams in terms of how to succeed over there. You need a strong pack of forwards, good set-pieces to put them under pressure, a rush-defence to deny their playmakers time on the ball and extremely accurate box-kicking from scrumhalf because that is the hardest kick to counter-attack from because of the chase.

 

 

 

John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012 through to the 2015 World Cup, where they conceded the least line-breaks in the tournament and an average of just one try per game. Before that, McFarland won three SuperRugby titles (2007, 09, 10) with the Bulls and five Currie Cup crowns with the Blue Bulls. In all, he won 28 trophies during his 12 years at Loftus Versfeld.

T

 

Who’s better – AB de Villiers or Virat Kohli? 0

Posted on February 05, 2018 by Ken

 

Graeme Smith

It’s very difficult to decide between AB and Virat. AB probably has more shots. He started out a bit like Jacques Kallis early on, being very technically correct, but now he hangs back in his crease waiting for the bowlers to come to him. He’s the sort of guy who can get a hundred in 50 balls.

Virat is also always looking to take the bowlers on, mentally he loves a contest – you can see that in how many times he has got India over the line, he has an outstanding fourth-innings record. He seems able to plan exactly how he wants to take a bowler on and he can kill you clinically. They are both outstanding batsmen.

 

Sunil Gavaskar

AB just seems to have a bit more time and he is so composed, so for me he is just that little bit better.

Virat can get out to what a bowler has done, whereas you see in this series that AB has only got out because of something the pitch did. But there is enormous pressure on Virat and he is a brilliant player with great intensity and understanding of the game. He’s at another level to the rest of his team and makes batting look very simple. He is a great talent.

https://citizen.co.za/sport/south-africa-sport/sa-cricket-sport/1790774/who-is-better-ab-de-villiers-or-virat-kohli/

Run of defeats against Wallabies rankles De Villiers 0

Posted on February 02, 2018 by Ken

 

It is a run of defeats that South African captain Jean de Villiers has admitted rankles him, the veteran of 79 Tests having played against far better Wallabies teams since making his debut in 2002.

Australia’s five straight wins against South Africa is a record for them, but they have also won seven of the last eight meetings.

De Villiers said Friday that that record is “simply not good enough. That can never be acceptable and this team has now inherited that record, so it’s our job to rectify that.”

De Villiers also added that the 2012 Springbok class is a distinct team to last year’s, pointing out that they were responsible for six of those seven defeats. But there was more than just a hint of mental block when South Africa thoroughly dominated the Wallabies in the first half in Perth but failed to put them away.

Full preview – https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2012-09-28-rugby-championship-test-sprinkboks-hungry-for-wallaby-meat/#.WnhFva6WbIU

Cricket Australia hardly a spokesman for successful player relationships 0

Posted on January 31, 2018 by Ken

 

As a spokesman for maintaining successful relationships with their players, Cricket Australia would hardly seem to be the first people one would ask for advice, but that is what the Cricket South Africa leadership have elected to do as they approach negotiations with their own players on their new memorandum of understanding.

The revenue-sharing model that has underpinned the memorandum of understanding the players have had with CSA for the last 12 years will come to the end of its four-year cycle in April and fresh negotiations with the players’ union, the South African Cricketers’ Association, are set to start within the next month.

Astonishingly, considering that Cricket Australia spent most of the year trying to ward off a strike by their own players that threatened the Ashes, acting CSA chief executive Thabang Moroe has confirmed that they will be seeking Cricket Australia’s advice in how to contract players.

Cricket Australia received a bloody nose when all their players stood together to stop the administrators from hogging all the new money coming in from the Big Bash, instead ensuring that every state cricketer, both male and female, enjoyed a share of the riches.

It seems only fair that the players should share in the revenue that is accrued mostly due to their talents, but that’s not how Moroe sees things judging by his ill-considered comments just after Christmas about CSA making the money and not the players, who are basically employees who must do what they are told.

For CSA to say they make the money is simply outrageous, considering the amount of money that has been wasted due to their own negligence in the T20 Global League false-start, for which cricket in this country will be paying for a long time.

An antagonistic approach to the players is also extremely shortsighted because there are so many opportunities abroad now for the players, options that will pay up to four times more than they can earn here in South Africa. Many of our top stars are only staying because they feel a responsibility towards the game and for the younger players coming through the system, an attitude that is engendered by the revenue-sharing model that makes them stakeholders in the overall welfare of the sport.

Cricket South Africa are heading for a collision course with their most valuable – and sought-after – assets if the approach so brazenly bellowed out by their leadership is carried into negotiations.

There is a certain old-fashioned naivety about their strident apporoach because they really cannot compete with overseas offers on an economic basis so they really need to keep their players happy.

Similarly, the implication that they will convince the Board of Control for Cricket in India to release their players for the T20 Global League because they will threaten to prevent South African players from participating in the IPL is outlandish. Preventing our best stars from maximising their earnings in the best-paid league in the world will simply chase them away permanently to foreign shores.

A mass exodus of top players would be a disastrous setback for the game, leading to a huge loss in earning from sponsors and broadcasters – the Proteas are currently still an attraction because of the world-class stars they possess – and would ultimately stymie any plans CSA have for the further development of the game.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20180106/282355450131976



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