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Ken Borland



Rostron to double up as coach of both women’s & men’s teams 0

Posted on August 31, 2017 by Ken

 

In a first for South African hockey, Sheldon Rostron will double up as the head coach of both the women’s and men’s teams at the African Cup of Nations in Egypt in October, the South African Hockey Association (Saha) announced on their website on Friday.

Rostron has enjoyed success as the head coach of the women’s national team since 2014 and has already qualified them for the next World Cup, thanks to their fifth-place finish in the recent Hockey World League Semifinals. But the underperforming men are under pressure to qualify and only the winners of the Africa Cup tournament go through to the World Cup.

“Obviously the double role brings with it some logistical issues like making sure both teams are together so we can prepare and alternating training sessions, but I really just wanted to assist the process of finding a new permanent head coach for the men and make sure they qualify for the World Cup,” Rostron told Saturday Citizen on Friday.

“There will be a sharing of resources, with a joint management team, and obviously the assistant coaches will have to step up. But it’s a good opportunity for them to grow and some of them are in the running for the head coach position.”

It is a move not without precedent in the world of hockey, as Carlos Retegui steered both the Argentina men’s and women’s teams to bronze medals at the 2014 World Cup.

“It’s difficult to apply the same processes that have been successful with the women, but as someone who works with men as well it’s not a major concern. We can adapt one or two things, there don’t need to be massive changes, and some of the philosophies we can take across. Because women’s hockey usually goes the same way as the men’s game, I study men’s hockey as well and I know the trends. But the main thing is to make sure that we are all focused towards qualifying our men’s side for the World Cup,” Rostron said.

Saha are hoping to appoint someone as a permanent new men’s head coach by the end of the year, the Africa Cup being the team’s last engagement of 2017.

 

 

Germany lose both the men’s & women’s finals 0

Posted on July 23, 2017 by Ken

 

The Germans had the chance to be uber alles on the last day of the Hockey World League at Wits Astro on Sunday, but unfortunately lost in both the men’s and women’s finals.

The loss in the women’s final, against the United States, was particularly heartbreaking as it came in a shootout, after Germany had scored the opening goal, only for the Americans to snatch the equaliser with just two minutes left.

The men’s final was nowhere near as thrilling, as Belgium produced hockey of the highest standard to storm to a 6-1 victory, firmly laying to rest the 3-2 defeat they had suffered at the hands of the Germans in the pool stages.

Belgium’s pace, skill, use of space and understanding of the angles on a hockey field were all outstanding, especially in the second quarter, when they scored three goals to go into halftime 4-1 up and leaving Germany with a near-insurmountable task to catch them.

Highlights for Belgium were Arthur van Doren, who rescued a short-corner that had gone wrong for the first goal, providing a superb ball into the circle for Amaury Keusters to one-time into goal with a great deflection; Cedric Charlier’s dazzling run that brought the fourth goal and his deftest of touches to deflect a super long ball from Gauthier Boccard into goal after Germany had replaced their ‘keeper with a kicking back.

The USA women had been chasing the game against a dominant German side, and had goalkeeper Jackie Briggs to thank for being only 1-0 down, Camille Nobis steering home the opening goal from Marie Mavers’ cross after she had picked up a deflected slap by Nina Notman.

It was only in the final quarter that the USA managed to impose themselves on a German defence expertly led by Janne Muller-Wieland, with Kathleen Sharkey causing problems with some great runs up front.

Then, with two minutes to go, Sharkey was off on another sortie and defender Nike Lorenz stick-hacked her and leaned into her with the shoulder, causing the 27-year-old Olympian to lose the ball. According to the laws of the game, umpire Carolina de la Fuente of Argentina had no option but to award a penalty stroke.

Germany employed the surprise tactic of replacing their goalkeeper just before the stroke, but Taylor West found the top corner of the goal with ease.

The drama of a shootout then decided the final, with the USA obviously enjoying a big advantage thanks to the brilliance and experience of goalkeeper Briggs. She saved Lorenz’s shot and superbly channelled German captain Jana Teschke away from goal, before Franzisca Hauke beat her but only managed to get the ball into the goal just 0.4 seconds after the hooter.

The responsibility of deciding the shootout then fell to 17-year-old Erin Matson, and she was as cool as a veteran as she calmly finished and claimed the first title for a young American team going through a time of rebuilding.

It was an amazing turnaround in fortunes for the USA, who lost two games in the pool stages.

One of the teams that beat them were South Africa, and they completed a fine end to the tournament on Saturday by beating Japan 2-1 to claim fifth place.

Results: Men’s 3rd/4th – Australia 8 (Jake Whetton, Jeremy Hayward 2, Aaron Kleinschmidt 2, Tom Craig, Trent Mitton, Tom Wickham) Spain 1 (Pau Quemada); Women’s 3rd/4th – England 5 (Sophie Bray, Susannah Townsend, Laura Unsworth, Giselle Ansley 2) Argentina 2 (Lucina von der Heyde, Delfina Merino); Women’s final – United States 1 (Taylor West) Germany 1 (Camille Nobis), USA beat Germany 3-2 in shootout (Erin Matson, Melissa Gonzalez, Michelle Vittese vs Janne Muller-Wieland, Marie Mavers); Men’s final – Belgium 6 (Arthur van Doren, Tim Boon, Amaury Keusters, Cedric Charlier 2, Augustin Meurmans) Germany 1 (Tom Grambusch).

Final standings

Women: 1 USA; 2 Germany; 3 England; 4 Argentina; 5 South Africa; 6 Japan; 7 Ireland; 8 India; 9 Chile; 10 Poland.

Men: 1 Belgium; 2 Germany; 3 Australia; 4 Spain; 5 Ireland; 6 New Zealand; 7 France; 8 Egypt; 9 South Africa; 10 Japan.

 

Between AB & Atta, all we need is just a little patience 0

Posted on September 06, 2016 by Ken

 

Between them, Adriaan Strauss and AB de Villiers have generated numerous headlines and many words of copy over the last couple of days, but whatever one thinks of their sporting achievements, what is more important is that they are both fine men who enjoy enormous respect from everyone who works with them.
Unfortunately, South African sports fans being what they are, both have also had to face enormous vitriol and unfair denigration on social media, especially Strauss in the last couple of weeks.

Of course we are all disappointed with how the Springboks have been performing lately and Strauss’s own form has not exactly been inspirational, but so much of the criticism is uninformed and ignores the core roles he performs in the scrums and lineouts. As for his leadership, the players go out of their way to say what a good captain he is.

With so many veteran Springboks departing the scene in between the Heyneke Meyer and Allister Coetzee eras, this is a new-look team that is going to take time to settle, especially since they are trying to forge a new game plan. The side that started in Salta had only six players with more than 40 caps in the 23.

Even the Lions took three years to settle into their new style of play, so the most important thing the Springboks need right now is patience. They are in a transitional period, which is perhaps why Coetzee chose someone like Strauss to be the captain for the first year, seeing as though he knew at the time of the appointment that the hooker would be retiring from Test rugby at the end of 2016.

By the end of this year, Warren Whiteley could have made himself a definite starter at eighthman plus Pat Lambie could well have returned.

I know patience is not something South African sports fans are particularly known for, but there are very few successful teams who don’t go through bad patches. Before they won the 1995 World Cup, the Springboks were no great shakes either and Jake White nearly lost his job in 2006, a year before lifting the biggest prize in rugby.

Removing Coetzee from his post anytime soon will serve absolutely no purpose and should not even be considered.

Such bad patches also happen on an individual level as De Villiers, now considered by many to be the best batsman in the world, himself described at the launch of his autobiography this week. Between 2005 and 2008, he played 17 Tests without scoring a century and made just six half-centuries.

“I’m always very scared of failing before I go out to bat and there used to be ducks at international level and I’d be in tears in the shower. One of the low points came in 2006 at SuperSport Park, my home ground, when coach Mickey Arthur told me I was running out of chances after another soft dismissal, and in 2007 I was just surviving, I probably should have been dropped.

“I’d had a taste of the dream and I was going to throw it away. But then came a huge moment in 2007 when Jacques Kallis approached me and told me that to earn his respect I have to find some consistency. He was willing to work with me, especially on my defence,” De Villiers said.

Even the most naturally gifted, world-conquering sports stars have their dips in form. The Proteas have seen their patience with De Villiers rewarded many, many times over, never mind how many spectators he has thrilled beyond measure in that time.

Similarly, Allister Coetzee and the Springboks need to be allowed time to find their groove together. Hysteria and short-term thinking will do their cause no good at all.

Things have obviously changed in KZN rugby 0

Posted on July 18, 2016 by Ken

 

I can remember well covering Natal Sharks rugby in the 1990s – they were the team of the decade with four Currie Cup titles – and how we used to tut-tut at teams like the Lions because down in Durban we were the best both on and off the field, in terms of administration and brand marketing.

Things have obviously changed and the Lions are leading the way for South African rugby, while the Sharks don’t look like adding to their 2010 and 2013 Currie Cup crowns any time soon, never mind claiming that elusive Super Rugby title. And they are embroiled in the unseemliest of off-field squabbles, one that is straight out of the Louis Luyt book of skulduggery.

The actions of KZN Rugby Union president Graham Mackenzie would appear to be obvious grounds for his removal from his post. This week it was revealed that he was involved in a dirty tricks campaign that included trying to get journalists to publish a prepared article he or someone close to him had written discrediting former CEO and major critic Brian van Zyl under their own bylines. Unfortunately a blogger eventually took the bait and has subsequently been exposed and disgraced.

It would be premature to suggest Mackenzie is another Cheeky Watson waiting to happen because there is no proof of any financial impropriety. Then again, we can’t be entirely sure because for the first time in the KZNRU’s history the financial statements were not ready to be presented to the board or the clubs at the AGMs in April.

But that sort of maladministration inevitably gives birth to speculation and rumours, one just doesn’t expect the president of the union to be involved in spreading misinformation.

The Sharks have been hit by the economic downturn just like all the other franchises, but they have not been helped by the new broom that was wielded by John Smit when he replaced Van Zyl as CEO in 2013 when Mackenzie and chairman of the board Stephen Saad took over control of the Sharks in the boardroom. Some leading Natal rugby figures are apparently still nursing the knife wounds in the back.

While Smit secured several lucrative sponsorships for the Sharks, by getting rid of so many experienced staff members, people who have made an immense contribution to KZN rugby, he caused turmoil in the Kings Park offices. Never mind sacking coach John Plumtree, who it must be remembered had failed to win Super Rugby despite having a powerhouse side full of Springboks, it was the clear-out of people like Piet Strydom, Hans Scriba, Garth Giles and Rudolf Straeuli which raised eyebrows. And inevitably led to allegations Smit was just bringing in his old buddies both on and off the field.

Straeuli was the commercial manager and, ironically, it is the Lions who have now been reinvigorated by his acumen as CEO.

Transparency is the only way to avoid Sharks rugby being plunged into a hole like Eastern Province currently find themselves in, or a scandal like Cricket South Africa found themselves embroiled in during the Gerald Majola days.

SuperSport, as a major player on the Sharks board, have a vital role to play. But so do the clubs, who have a right to hold Mackenzie to account for his actions.

Van Zyl has made a disturbing allegation, however, that Mackenzie has built a devoted power base for himself by adding a raft of smaller clubs to the leagues, leading to a number of mismatches.

Either way, it is time a bright light was shone on the affairs of KwaZulu-Natal rugby to ensure that they can return to being a powerhouse of the South African game.



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