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Ken Borland


Weird & wonderful brings the crucial variety to sport

Posted on January 13, 2015 by Ken

I have seen many weird, wonderful and not so wonderful things at the Harlequins bar in the Sun City main hotel and this was one of them – the German Interlausen Boogie with Left Arm Dominant Dance Club whirling and whirring around as the cocktail bar singer enjoyed her best audience ever and thanked her lucky stars no drunk men were trying to pick her up.

What was initially a captivating sight soon turned into a repetitive affair though as the dozen dancers all just did the same move,  over and over again, in identical fashion.

It reminded me that what makes sport special is the variety – the many different ways there are to be successful and the many different techniques that are employed.

Sun City is of course hosting the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the moment; golf being a game that revolves around myriad statistics and in which technique is absolutely key. Being a centimetre offline with your swing can result in disaster.

And yet there are all sorts of different swings out there. Jim Furyk, a two-time winner at Gary Player Country Club, is famous for his unorthodox swing but has enjoyed consistent success at the highest level for 15 years.

Danie van Tonder is having his unusual swing – which is more like a brutal punch at the ball than anything flowing and graceful – scrutinised on global television for the first time but, as fellow South African Tim Clark said, it works.

“He can obviously play. That’s the beauty of golf, you don’t have to have a cookie-cutter swing, and I’ve always admired those who go out and do it their own way,” said Clark, who has made a highly successful career for himself in the United States through sheer determination as much as talent.

Cricketer Phillip Hughes, so movingly laid to rest this week, chased his dream all the way to the top with an unorthodox technique that certainly frustrated South African bowlers. As recently as July 29 he smashed a brilliant 202 from 151 balls to lead Australia A to a massive win over South Africa A in a one-day game in Darwin.

It’s those that bring something different to sport that give such pleasure.

But there is one part of sport that I am desperate to see more uniformity in and that is in the refereeing of rugby Tests.

The governors of the game have to act urgently because I am convinced the winner of next year’s Rugby World Cup will be decided by a refereeing decision, given that almost every Test this year has been marred by some controversy over officiating or gross inconsistencies.

The yellow-carding of Springbok wing Cornal Hendricks for chasing an up-and-under last weekend against Wales was sickening. The number of times this year that players have jumped into each other contesting a high ball would need a proper census to count; there were even similar incidents in the same game that referee John Lacey was happy to let go.

Sure, intemperate efforts to compete in the air need to be policed but Lacey’s decision was ridiculous and I hope just an example of sheer incompetence.

But it would be reckless in the extreme for World Rugby to naively ignore the possibility that their game is infected by darker elements.

Match-fixers have afflicted cricket, who have at least taken steps to deal with the problem, but rugby doesn’t seem to think their game could possibly also be affected. Or they don’t care.

But like an asp striking at the breast, officiating controversies do far more damage to the image of the game than most of the things the administrators seem concerned about.

 

 

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