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Ken Borland



I know a week is a long time in sport, but … 0

Posted on March 20, 2017 by Ken

 

I’ve always known that a week can be a long time in the world of sport, but I go away for eight nights to the bush of northern Limpopo and return to find rugby’s entire landscape changing with indecent haste compared to the months of feet-dragging that often characterise a game that has been presided over at some stages by dinosaurs or the old farts of the straw-chair brigade.

One of the changes I saw coming before my departure. I always love unintended consequences and it was former Springboks and Bulls defence coach John McFarland who pointed out to me that the rulemakers’ new emphasis on keeping tackles lower, away from the head and shoulders, was at least partly responsible for the sudden rash of offloads we have seen from the South African teams, who have traditionally preferred taking contact and winning some hard-earned, psychologically-meaningful centimetres.

So it’s not just a mindset change amongst our franchise coaches and players, but also that tacklers are now being forced down below the arms, allowing the hands to be free to keep the ball alive.

Time will tell whether that more skilful approach is carried through to the Springboks, but the national team has already had better preparation than last year with a camp and they look better resourced too in terms of coaching staff.

One of those additional resources is Cheetahs coach Franco Smith and it may be just as well that he has earned a promotion because he might be out of a decent Super Rugby job next year. If we believe what the New Zealand media tell us, then the Cheetahs as well as the Southern Kings will be axed from Super Rugby under the new, hopefully improved format for 2018 that is yet to be unveiled.

Harold Verster, the CEO of the Cheetahs, cheerfully told the world though that he keeps his “ear to the ground” and that the rumbling noise he hears is not a rampaging stampede of buffalo at all, but the sound of the Grey College-Free State-somewhere else in the country pipeline running smoothly. He says the Cheetahs are safe.

You cannot be nearly as optimistic about the Kings, however. They would seem to be sitting ducks as not only are they struggling on the field but they are a financial drain on the South African Rugby Union and money always shouts loudest when it comes to administrators, like politicians.

Speaking of politicians, you cannot escape the irony that Cheeky Watson, the self-proclaimed messiah of transformation, has now left Eastern Cape rugby and has done more damage to the nursery of Black rugby in our country than anything since a Nationalist government functionary.

If you called him a blood-sucking tick you would probably be understating his effect. The man has been a full-blown parasite on the game in that vulnerable region, more like the deadly malaria protozoans that kill half-a-million people a year in sub-Saharan Africa.

Later this year, the British and Irish Lions tour New Zealand in what should be the rugby highlight of 2017, but this type of proper tour probably won’t become more common given the news this week that a new global rugby calendar is being introduced. Coming into effect in 2020, it has reducing player workload as one of its main tenets.

Tours by northern hemisphere teams to the southern hemisphere will be pushed back to July, but this will allow Super Rugby to be completed in one fell swoop from February to June. This is a good thing and will come into effect in 2019, because that is a World Cup year.

The 2023 World Cup is another story of course, with South Africa seemingly ranged against France and Ireland for the right to host the tournament. If you can believe what came out of sports minister Fikile Mbalula’s mouth this week, then government is now backing the bid.

Then again, Mbalula might just have been trying to distract from the fiasco that was Durban’s Commonwealth Games bid. The chairman of that bid was Mark Alexander, the president of the South African Rugby Union, but that’s a story for another day.

Sabie River 0

Posted on May 13, 2015 by Ken

 

The S3 Sabie River Road between the Paul Kruger and Phabeni Gates of Kruger National Park takes you through some dense woodland alongside the acacia thickets and grassveld that characterise the south-central parts of the reserve, and is ideal habitat for the Gabar Goshawk, a typical small raptor of the well-treed regions.

Although the road is along the river, there aren’t too many vantage points to look at the water, but there is nevertheless plenty of life to be seen thanks to the gallery forest that fringes the Sabie.

Apart from the Gabar Goshawk hunting from a perch within the trees, other raptors seen on a grey, rainy morning were Whitebacked Vulture and Gymnogene, while the proximity to the water and ample food meant Elephant, Impala, Bushbuck, Giraffe, Warthog and Waterbuck were common along the gently ascending road.

The Bearded Robin is generally uncommon in Kruger Park, but the Sabie River is one of the best places to see it, hopping around in the undergrowth.

Typical woodland birds like the Emeraldspotted Wood Dove, Arrowmarked Babbler, Southern Black Tit, Scimitarbill and African Hoopoe are easily seen, while Whitefaced Duck were spotted flying above the river.

The other side of the Sabie River is less untouched wilderness and more human development, which does at least provide better access to the river, allowing Hippopotamus, Water Dikkop, Blacksmith Plover, African Pied Wagtail, Greenbacked Heron and Pied Kingfisher to be viewed.

The woodlands around the Sabie River are also great for Brownhooded Kingfisher and Blackbacked Puffback.

Sightings list

Hippopotamus

Little Swift

Water Dikkop

Blacksmith Plover

Glossy Starling

Emeraldspotted Wood Dove

Helmeted Guineafowl

Rattling Cisticola

Elephant

Forktailed Drongo

Impala

Arrowmarked Babbler

Blackeyed Bulbul

Southern Black Tit

Bushbuck

Giraffe

Cape Turtle Dove

Scimitarbill

African Hoopoe

Goldenbreasted Bunting

Grey Heron

Warthog

Gabar Goshawk

Whitebacked Vulture

Gymnogene

Waterbuck

Whitefaced Duck

Bearded Robin

African Pied Wagtail

Greenbacked Heron

Hadeda Ibis

Pied Kingfisher

Brownhooded Kingfisher

Blackbacked Puffback

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    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



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