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Ken Borland



Varsity Cup once again in troubled waters 0

Posted on April 21, 2016 by Ken

 

The Varsity Cup once again finds itself in troubled waters with claims that champions Pukke fielded an ineligible player, breaking the same complex rule that led to the University of KwaZulu-Natal being docked a massive 12 points, scuppering their chances of being promoted from the Varsity Shield into the big league.

Pukke won the tournament, which was disrupted by unrest at universities across the country, by beating Maties 7-6 a week ago in Stellenbosch, with front-ranker Bart le Roux excelling.

Unfortunately for the Potchefstroom university, Le Roux played previously for the UKZN Impi in 2014 and, due to the arcane regulations for the tournament, had to sit out a certain period of time before representing another university side.

UKZN were found guilty of fielding an ineligible player when a former University of Johannesburg and Lions U-19 player appeared for them in six matches this season, Varsity Cup organisers saying they were deducted two points per game. But tournament auditors KPMG cleared both Le Roux and the UKZN player as being eligible, leaving Varsity Cup organisers in a quandary.

Having set a harsh precedent in punishing UKZN, Varsity Cup is faced with the embarrassing decision to strip Pukke of their title, more than a week after the final.

The situation has led many of the competing teams to question the efficiency of KPMG, whose advice was taken in fielding the ineligible players, and whether it is fair for them to be punished for mistakes by the tournament’s auditors.

The lack of a centralised database comprising all participating players’ tournament histories and educational background so they can be checked before the tournament starts has also been criticised.

UKZN management have also queried the timing with opposition teams seemingly waiting until the final stages of the season, when there is no time for a team to recover from losing points, before making their accusations.

Varsity Cup organisers did not return messages asking for comment yesterday.

– http://www.citizen.co.za/1081261/dark-cloud-hangs-over-nwu-pukke/

How do Saru best use Rassie Erasmus? 0

Posted on February 24, 2016 by Ken

 

An interesting new dynamic has emerged in the hunt for the new Springbok coach with Rassie Erasmus’s chances apparently now being hurt for the ironic reason that he could be too valuable for the South African Rugby Union (Saru) to lose in his current position of general manager of the rugby department.

Saru use Erasmus and his brilliant rugby brain to devise just about everything surrounding the professional game in South Africa, be it systems to successfully identify, develop and monitor players and coaches, the off-field logistics and planning required for high-performance teams, technical analysis, medical care and safety and even the referees.

There are some in Saru who are apparently acutely aware that the position of Springbok coach has been one in which talented men are used and abused and then discarded. To paraphrase The Doors: “Nobody gets outta here alive!”

It normally takes a few years of recovery (maybe it should be therapy!) before a former Springbok coach is rehabilitated enough to return to the frontlines of the game; Ian McIntosh has served as a national selector for several years, Nick Mallett is now a popular television pundit and Rudolf Straeuli is the CEO of the Golden Lions, but where are the seven other living coaches?

And so Saru are faced with something of a dilemma … are the skills of Erasmus more valuable and likely to be in service for longer if he stays behind the scenes in an “office job”? Obviously the former Springbok captain has the technical and tactical know-how to succeed as the national coach in what must be an interesting time of rebuilding and renewal.

But does he have the desire to handle the off-field pressures and demands of the job? The abuse of his family when things don’t go well, all the fronting up on television and to the media he will be expected to do, the long weeks away from home …

For a foreigner to take on the “poisoned chalice”, one would need to add to the above list of drawbacks being able to handle the internal politics of Saru, which are busy eating their CEO, Jurie Roux, alive, and the external politics of transformation demands. There is apparently also a recognition now within Saru that a foreigner would not be a wise choice for head coach given the peculiarities of the job in a South African context. A top-class overseas figure may yet get a call-up as a consultant or as a member of the back-up coaching staff.

A final decision on who the new Springbok coach is can only be made by a meeting of the General Council and their next scheduled gathering is for the AGM on April 1. Let’s hope a fool is not appointed.

Speaking of fools, there have been some misguided reports doing the rounds suggesting that Roux (not a fool) has somehow been “punished” by no longer being the man in charge of headhunting the new Springbok coach.

The fact of the matter is that the Elite Player Development Committee is, and has always been, in charge of the search for Heyneke Meyer’s successor, and this has been confirmed to me personally by Lions president Kevin de Klerk, who sits on that committee.

Once they come up with a potential candidate, then Roux will get involved in terms of negotiating the contract.

But the false reports stem from the same sources that clearly have an agenda to drive against the CEO, judging by the thoroughly unprofessional tweets they sent out during the SuperRugby launch on Thursday.

Objective journalism, now there’s a concept.

 

 

Western Province used their chances better – coaches 0

Posted on October 22, 2015 by Ken

 

Western Province used their chances better and made fewer mistakes than the Blue Bulls as they beat the home side 23-18 in their Currie Cup semi-final at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

The visitors scored the only two tries of the match thanks to the opportunistic nous, quick hands and feet of fullback Cheslin Kolbe, and it was a deserved victory as they dominated territory and their pack had the edge up front.

“We got off the canvas after taking sixty points up here in Johannesburg two weeks ago and having a horror half-hour against the Bulls when we last played them here, but that was an aberration and we deserved to win in the end. It was very frustrating at times because the Bulls defended well, but Cheslin is one of those slightly predatory players and in semi-finals those are the things that turn games,” Western Province coach John Dobson said after his team secured their place in a fourth successive Currie Cup final.

“They used their one opportunity and scored and from then on we were playing catch-up rugby, which causes you to make mistakes,” Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais said. “But we should never have turned over the ball on attack. We should have played better, we made mistakes in the second half, we lost opportunities and a couple of calls went against us.”

Marais conceded that Western Province’s more experienced pack continued to have the edge over his young forwards.

“If you’re not getting your set-piece ball then you feel under attack and you lose confidence. We made too many mistakes so we weren’t as fluent as we wanted to be, and the Western Province defence got even better at the end,” he said.

Dobson gave credit to former Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu for his side’s stout defensive work.

“In the last 10-15 minutes our defence closed the game, to not concede a try at Loftus Versfeld is a great achievement. Credit to Paul Treu for the work he has done; the defence really showed the character of the team,” Dobson said.

 

 

 

Schwartzel gives brutal assessment of his Leopard Creek chances 0

Posted on February 03, 2015 by Ken

Charl Schwartzel is usually honest in his appraisal of his golf and seldom jazzes up his chances, but on Wednesday at Leopard Creek he was almost brutal in his assessment of his game, saying he believed he had little chance of winning an unprecedented hat-trick of Alfred Dunhill Championship titles.

It came as a shock because Schwartzel’s game normally purrs in sweet cohesion around the course bordering Kruger National Park, which he unashamedly admits is his ‘happy place’. He has a phenomenal record in Malelane, winning the European Tour co-sanctioned event in 2004, 2012 and 2013, while he finished second in 2005, 06, 09 and 10.

Opposite to where Schwartzel sat in the pre-tournament press conference, there is a photo of him as a 20-year-old with the Alfred Dunhill Championship trophy, sporting a broad grin, braces and all. But golf is not bringing him much joy at the moment.
“That feels like yesterday, but it’s actually 10 years ago!” Schwartzel mused when the photo was pointed out to him.

“This course has always treated me very well over the years, it does something for my game, but I think I’m still a long way away from winning.

“The pattern the whole year has been that I get my game going, it looks like I’m going to contend, and then one or two bad holes make me fall back. And then I do it all over again and the cycle is really frustrating. I’m making enough birdies to win, but mistakes are costing me so much. It’s just a swing that’s not repeating itself, it’s not consistent enough,” South Africa’s highest-ranked golfer said.

But Schwartzel is still cautiously optimistic that if he can harness the feel-good factor from a course he has dominated in the past, as well as his tremendous work-ethic, then something just might click over the next four days in Malelane.

“It’s frustrating, especially playing in your home country, because you want the results to come. I just have to keep working at it. I’ve been on tour for 11 years now and I’ve had lots of these downs, I know how it goes. There’s no shortcut to getting out of it, it’s just practising and playing. I’ve come here in the past and not been playing my best, but somehow, something seems to spark and I get going,” Schwartzel said.

But this is “Wild Africa” as Schwartzel put it when talking about his leopard and rhino sightings early Wednesday, and things can get gory for golfers who are not on top of their game on a typical Gary Player layout that brings reward and punishment.

“It’s a good challenge, it’s a golf course where you can shoot a low number, but it can also bite you. It’s got tough stretches in the middle and you need to be on your game,” Louis Oosthuizen warned.

South Africa’s second-highest ranked golfer was also wary of donning the favourite’s mantle on a course which has not always been kind to him, and Oosthuizen has also been struggling on the greens lately, changing his putting grip mid-tournament in last weekend’s Nedbank Golf Challenge.

While Schwartzel and Oosthuizen will capture the bulk of local attention, there are several other South Africans ready and waiting to claim the European Tour title at one of the country’s greatest courses.

While George Coetzee did not have the greatest time at Sun City, he will clearly be a threat, while Branden Grace is probably due a victory. Richard Sterne is the 2008 champion, while Hennie Otto is in form and hungry.

Peter Uihlein, the 2013 European Tour Rookie of the Year, is a star in waiting and has expressed his liking for the course.
But one of the joys of playing at Leopard Creek is that even if your golf game is not going well, the scenery, animal and bird life is magnificent.

Danny Willett showed his game is in great nick with his impressive Nedbank Golf Challenge triumph last weekend, but even he gets the sighs when he thinks of the Leopard Creek course bordering Kruger National Park.

“Every year, regardless of how many years you’ve come here, everyone marks their ball on the 13th and walks to the back of the green. You look out over the Crocodile River, so it’s a pretty awesome hole,” Willett said.

Willett came out tops in a 30-man field last weekend; the size of the field this weekend (156) suggests the winner of the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Championship could come from anywhere, like a leopard emerging from cover to drink at dusk in the Crocodile River.

http://citizen.co.za/291128/little-chance-dunhill-hat-trick-schwartzel/



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