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Ken Borland



Lorgat’s resignation understandable, but his denial is baffling 0

Posted on February 01, 2017 by Ken

 

Cricket South Africa CEO Haroon Lorgat’s sense of resignation when it comes to the exodus of Kolpak players is understandable given the socio-economic factors that are ranged against him, but his continued denial that anything untoward happened before the 2015 World Cup semi-final is baffling and most troubling.

His own involvement in the selection fiasco that saw the in-form Kyle Abbott yanked from the team and replaced by a half-fit Vernon Philander has still not been totally clarified, but I would be extremely surprised if he was not acting on an ill-timed instruction from board level.

But just mention the 2015 World Cup semi-final and selection interference and Lorgat has his hackles up in an instant.

It happened again in Cape Town after the Proteas had won their Test against Sri Lanka to clinch the series,  their achievement totally overshadowed by the shock news that Abbott and Rilee Rossouw were shifting their loyalty to lucrative deals in county cricket.

When Abbott faced up to the media he was asked whether that fateful event in Auckland had anything to do with his decision to give up his international career, and he answered sincerely, saying there had been a lot of frustration, hurt and anger at the time, but that the team – including himself – had dealt with and moved on from all their negative emotions from that incident at their culture camp last August.

Lorgat was next up to be interviewed and, as soon as someone mentioned the words “World Cup semi-final”, they were scolded and the CEO launched into a tirade against the media for making things up. When one of the journalists, of colour, who happened to be at the World Cup and had done plenty to expose the selection shenanigans, pointed out to Lorgat that Abbott had sat in the same chair five minutes earlier and openly spoken about the issue, the CEO had to retreat and offered words along the lines of “I don’t want to talk about that now”.

But like reticent parents avoiding the sex-education talk, Lorgat is going to have to speak about it at some stage.

And the CSA National Team Review Panel report, that will be tabled before the members’ council on Saturday might just be the tool that gets Lorgat to open up, unless of course the relevant pages are lost somewhere in the toilets at head office at the Wanderers.

There has been talk of the report recommending that CSA and the board apologise to the players for what happened in Auckland. There is no confirmation of that, but I have it on record from someone who has read the findings that under the Team Culture section it indicates that it’s “strongly recommended that interaction happens either individually or in a group between players and senior members of the board and support staff”.

Speaking to members of the panel, none of them wanted to create anything controversial and all they hope is that something good comes out of their work.

The introduction of set targets has obviously helped because now the quotas are out in the open; but amongst the players there is still the lingering fear of an administrator again deciding to take the job of a selector upon himself and interfering in the make-up of the team.

The bungling of the transformation aspect of the 2015 World Cup needs to be put to bed – otherwise imagine how septic a boil it will be in the lead-up to 2019? – and an acknowledgement and apology from Lorgat for his role in the controversy would be a big step along that road.

Sharks eager to start new era of success in 2016 – Gold 0

Posted on November 12, 2015 by Ken

 

 

The Sharks will be eager to put a torrid 2015 behind them as they begin pre-season training for 2016, director of rugby Gary Gold saying they will be looking to start a new era of success for the KwaZulu-Natal side.

“Everyone’s had a good break so now we need to hit the ground running. I hope this young side will be energetic and enthusiastic, because I see this as a new era and I’m certainly excited, keen to put the last year behind us as quickly as possible,” Gold told The Citizen before the Sharks started their pre-season training on Tuesday.

Despite his optimism, Gold conceded that there would be no quick-fix solution to the problems that bedevilled the Sharks in 2015, which saw them finish 11th in Super Rugby and fifth in the Currie Cup.

“It’s very important to make it clear that we won’t be making any excuses, our performance simply wasn’t good enough, especially for a franchise as big as the Sharks. But an era was coming to an end, we lost a lot of stalwarts and it’s not ideal having four coaches in 18 months at the same time. Change hit us hard and we also had insurmountable injuries, but the bottom line is that the performance was poor,” Gold said.

While Gold is firmly in the camp that favours South African rugby moving forward towards a more free-flowing style, he says defence will be the focus in terms of their Super Rugby preparations.

“Of course I want us to be more of a threat with ball in hand, but defence is the foundation of every good team. I know it’s not romantic, but you learn a lot about a team by how hard they work for each other in defence. We were substantially better in the Currie Cup, our points difference of only -8 shows that, but we need to put pressure on the opposition through our defence.

“A lot of tries these days still come from turnovers, mistakes and poor kicks, and we need to try and force those through our defence. But we also need to be more clever and, strategically, to think more out of the box. Robert du Preez [the new assistant coach] also ticks a lot of boxes for us, he’s a hard taskmaster and there are no half-measures with him,” Gold said.

 

Oh for competent officials! 0

Posted on October 27, 2015 by Ken

 

SuperRugby completes the first month of its 2015 season this weekend and it’s not surprising, given the generally low standard of officiating, that the referees and their assistants have been in the spotlight this week.

There has been furious debate about whether the laws of the game were correctly applied at Loftus Versfeld last weekend when the Bulls beat the Sharks; and there is uproar steadily building as well over referee Nick Briant’s performance yesterday in Hamilton, especially towards the end of the Highlanders’ shock win over the Chiefs.

The Loftus Versfeld furore was mostly about Law 12 – the knock-on or throw forward, but perhaps the way to avoid these controversies that do serious damage to the game (nobody wants to watch a sport where the officials decide the outcome rather than the athletes) is to go to Law 6.

This law is about the Match Officials, but nowhere does it say they have to be competent!

In the white-hot arena of top-class rugby, mistakes will inevitably happen and nobody should crucify referees over those. But when a person sitting in a box in the stands gets several replays of an incident and still can’t make the correct decision, then questions need to be asked. The problem is that officials are way above the law and there is no accountability; their decisions never have to be explained. It’s a prime breeding ground for matchfixing, but WorldRugby is in denial of that as well.

The forward pass incident at Loftus has been dressed up as a technical issue involving the direction of the hands being obscured at the time of Jesse Kriel’s pass. TMO Johan Greeff believed the evidence was inconclusive, never mind the ball clearly travelling metres forward on its way to Francois Hougaard. It was such an obvious forward pass that most people picked it up while watching the game live.

If TMOs are going to be seen to have made the correct decision, which is the whole point of having them, then they are going to have to ditch this whole obsession with which direction the hands were going at the time of the pass. None of that technical mumbo jumbo, nothing about gravity or momentum, is even mentioned in the laws of rugby.

Obviously momentum is going to cause a ball to drift forward if the player who passes it is running, but this cannot result in the sort of forward pass Kriel threw to Hougaard.

“A throw forward occurs when a player throws or passes the ball forward. ‘Forward’ means towards the opposing team’s dead ball line,” is all Law 12 states. It’s simple but for several years now officials have conspired to complicate the whole issue with all this talk of “the direction of the hands”.

While they are at it, the lawmakers should also make the ruck laws simpler because, as things stand in this era of “interpretation”, the World Cup final is probably going to be decided by who the referee is.

It cannot be good for the game that the Bulls can have a referee one week (Andrew Lees) who barely blew anything at the ruck and the next week be officiated by somebody who blows to the letter of the law.

Nobody wants to have a game dominated by the officials, but they currently have way too much influence on the result and spectators have started to desert rugby as a result.

 

Refreshed Horne looking for improvement at Africa Open 0

Posted on September 29, 2015 by Ken

 

Keith Horne was 16-under-par after four rounds in the 60s and shooting 66 and 65 over the weekend in last year’s Africa Open, but that was only good enough for a tie for ninth, and the well-travelled South African believes he can improve on that when the 2015 edition of the co-sanctioned European/Sunshine Tour event gets underway at East London Golf Club on Thursday.

Horne has been a consistent performer in the Africa Open, finishing in ties for 18th, 18th, 21st, 62nd, 32nd and ninth since the tournament moved to East London in 2009, but he is still heartsore over the 75s he shot in the final rounds of 2012 and 2013.

“I’ve played pretty well here before, I’ve been in contention but then I tend to have a bad round somewhere. I was in the top-10 last year, but I feel I haven’t reached my potential yet here because I feel very comfortable on the course,” Horne said at East London Golf Club on Wednesday.

Horne’s Africa Open performance was his best on the European Tour last year, and the 43-year-old admitted he was a bit jaded.

“After five years of playing in Europe and 13 years of travelling as a pro, I felt a bit flat so I didn’t play a full schedule last year. I took a large percentage of the year off and now I feel refreshed and ready, I’m a lot more relaxed,” Horne said.

The seven-time Sunshine Tour winner was born in Durban and grew up on the KwaZulu-Natal coast, so playing in the wind in East London holds no fears for him.

“I’m not as good in the wind as I used to be because I’ve lived in Joburg for the last 13 years, but I grew up on the coast and I have the technique and mind-set to play in the wind. It’s mostly about mental preparation, you can’t fight the wind, you’ve got to use it and accept it,” Horne said.

He has averaged 30.22 putts per round in 2015, putting him 140th in the European Tour rankings, but he is really looking forward to the greens in the Eastern Cape.

“I’m also used to the greens on the coast and the greens here are as good as any coastal greens I’ve seen. They’re the best they’ve been here for the last five or six years, so kudos to the green keeping staff, they’re in magnificent condition. They’re not as slow as they’ve been in the past, they’re rolling beautifully and I think a lot of putts are going to be made,” Horne said.

The father of two daughters will also be campaigning in Asia this year, having finished in 11th place in the Tour Qualifying School in Thailand in January.

“I’m going back, I had good seasons in Asia in 2009 and 2010 and I enjoy it there, more than Europe in fact. But the money’s in Europe … ,” Horne admitted.

The money’s also good in East London, with a prize pool of R14.5 million and a first prize of just over R2 million.

But the East London Golf Club course needs to be overcome first and, especially when the wind blows, it is a short course with many hidden dangers.

“East London seems to bring out the best in our golfers but you can go out and think you’re going to shoot very low, flopping wedges into all the greens, but the course has got teeth. There are birdies out there, but you have to keep double-bogeys off the card. If you take the course for granted, it can really bite you,” Horne said with the benefit of years of experience.

http://www.africaopengolf.com/PressReleases/2015/20-refreshed-horne-hunting-africa-open-glory.pdf



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