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Ken Borland



A passionate, top-class SA coach without a job 0

Posted on May 24, 2017 by Ken

 

Despite a poor final year in charge of the Springboks, there is little doubt Heyneke Meyer remains a top-class coach and it is a symptom of a sick South African rugby system that the 49-year-old is without a full-time coaching job despite making it clear that he still wants to make a difference to the game in this country.

Meyer was back at Loftus Versfeld a couple of days ago to launch the Beachcomber World Club 10s, a unique tournament for professional teams in a social environment, that will be held in Mauritius next month, but there is no doubt he still harbours a burning desire to be involved in the cauldron of top quality rugby again judging by the passion with which he answered a range of questions on South African rugby.

Although a great admirer of New Zealand rugby and a personal friend of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, Meyer makes a good point when he says a drive to play like the Kiwis do is a case of chasing the wind for South African rugby.

He reckons it will take us 10 years to catch up to their style of play, by which time their game will have evolved and they will still be 10 years ahead of South Africa. It is perhaps a symptom of our insecurity as a nation that we are always trying to copy other teams – in the early 2000s it was Australian rugby that was the flavour of the month.

Meyer, who has been working with plenty of New Zealanders and Fijians in his part-time role as coach of the Asia Pacific Dragons team, points to a higher innate skills level as one of the main reasons South Africans will find it very difficult to emulate the free-flowing, expansive style of the Kiwis.

“South Africans don’t have the same natural understanding of space that they do, but I truly believe any of our teams can still beat a New Zealand team, especially at home. But if we try and follow them then we’ll never be the best in the world. We have to rediscover what we stand for and play South African rugby – brilliant set-pieces, driving, strong defence. We must do what we’re good at and kick intelligently, not just kick the ball away,” Meyer said.

The national coach from 2012 to 2015 made the point that ex-Springbok coaches are practically driven out of the country and pointed to Eddie Jones travelling from Australia to South Africa and now to England as an example of the value of experience, even if it comes from losing a few games.

“Eddie lost eight games in a row with Australia and was fired, he then helped the Springboks and learnt a lot there. In fact England are now playing like the Boks used to – they have great set-pieces, a great defence and kicking game, they still score tries and they’re on a winning run. It would be 50/50 right now between them and the All Blacks.”

Many observers have pointed to the speed at which New Zealand teams play the game and Meyer said this difference was most marked towards the end of matches, due to the superior fitness of the Kiwis.

“The All Blacks have always been superior in terms of fitness. We have big, strong guys, but it’s harder to get them fit. New Zealand have smaller but more mobile players and they run you ragged in the last 10-15 minutes. Central contracting means Steve Hansen knows the fitness of all his players and whether they need to rest or work harder.

“But you can’t do major fitness work if your players are tired or injured and our guys going overseas makes it very difficult, I’m very concerned about all the guys in Japan because you can’t play for 12 months. Before the last World Cup, I did not see the players for eight months so I asked for fitness reports from the franchises and nobody sent them in.

“So when I got the players I knew we were in trouble and the guys were not fit for the first game against Japan. But the All Blacks get to rest for three months after SuperRugby, so they’re super-fit for the next year, but we’re playing Currie Cup or in Japan. It’s very difficult for the South African coaches,” Meyer said.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170513/282578787965088

John McFarland Column – SuperRugby format definitely needs to change 0

Posted on March 16, 2017 by Ken

 

There has been some real conjecture and speculation about how SuperRugby is going to change in 2018, but the one thing that is clear is that it definitely needs to change – declining viewing figures and attendance at the games proves it.

While the administrators took the wrong direction when they changed the format back in 2015, the move to expand was the right decision. Promises had obviously been made to the Southern Kings and a Japanese team is vital if they are going to maintain the improvement they have shown and grow the sport in that country.

Argentina also now have a great development program and they’re no longer losing as many top players to Europe, so it’s vital they stay in as well.

The problem is I don’t think the administrators knew what they let themselves in for travel-wise. The Sunwolves are 10 hours from Australia so they should be in that conference and then they would travel a lot less.

The Southern Kings are probably going to be judged on the basis of their results, bankruptcy and as money-makers, but they did really well initially in terms of getting numbers to games. They have performed better this year, so credit must go to the coaching staff for that improvement, but they still have not really moved forward, there is still a big difference between them and the other teams.

Normally during the time of SuperRugby negotiations, there are people saying that South Africa will go play in Europe but that hasn’t happened that much this time around so we are obviously committed to SuperRugby and the three conferences.

It will be very disappointing if we lose the Cheetahs, but I expect to see a deal in our favour, especially since last time we managed to get two home semi-finals. The SA Rugby Union negotiators must stand up for what they believe in and push for what they want.

I don’t think the players are averse to travel, but being away for five weeks in Australia and New Zealand as the Bulls were in the past is a heck of a trip and that’s why it was virtually impossible for a South African team to win SuperRugby, having to play five matches overseas.

This weekend we have our first Friday night SuperRugby game when the Bulls host the Sunwolves, which is hard to believe considering the six hours of rugby we’ve had to sit through on Saturdays. People want to watch rugby when they come home on Friday evening around a barbecue, but unfortunately the TV schedules have not allowed it.

On a happier note, I was fortunate to attend the Springbok Sevens training for a couple of weeks and was able to see first-hand what good coaching, spirit and attention to detail there is in that set-up. The Blitzboks’ culture is second to none, the way they back each other, encourage one another and work in the training sessions is outstanding.

That’s their strength as well as continuity. Someone like conditioning coach Allan Temple-Jones has been there forever and does a superb job – the Springbok Sevens are the best-conditioned team on the circuit and they are reaping the benefits of that.

What is most encouraging is that people are talking about Sevens and what the Blitzboks have done, and watching the games.

They are also never scared to use specialists – Richie Gray was brought in to work on the breakdowns before the Olympics and Dawie Snyman, the former Western Province coach, is doing a lot of work on their footwork and coaching them in sidestepping. You can see that coming through in the way they are beating people, so credit to him.

Neil Powell is overseeing it all and is handling the job with great dignity, so I really hope they come through and win the series. England are the only team with the continuity to push them and will be their biggest competition.

Continuity breeds confidence in any high-performance sport.

John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012 through to the 2015 World Cup, where they conceded the least line-breaks in the tournament and an average of just one try per game. Before that, McFarland won three SuperRugby titles (2007, 09, 10) with the Bulls and five Currie Cup crowns with the Blue Bulls. In all, he won 28 trophies during his 12 years at Loftus Versfeld.

 

 

Ludeke on his way out of Loftus 0

Posted on December 22, 2016 by Ken

It is not yet clear whether Frans Ludeke will be catching the next train out of Loftus Versfeld for a permanent exit, but the Bulls coach has stood down from his SuperRugby and Currie Cup duties with immediate effect after eight years in charge.

Nollis Marais, the Blue Bulls Vodacom Cup and U21 coach, will pick up the pieces of the failed SuperRugby campaign and guide the team through this year’s Currie Cup, franchise CEO Barend van Graan announced on Saturday night after the first defeat to the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld in the history of the Sanzar competition.

The 43-year-old Marais has steadily risen up the ranks at Loftus Versfeld, coaching the U21s since 2011 and the Vodacom Cup team since 2013, while also winning the Varsity Cup with Tuks in 2012 and 2013.

Who will coach the Bulls in next year’s SuperRugby competition is still up in the air, however, with Van Graan describing the decision as “an ongoing process”.

Ludeke still has a shade more than a year left on his contract with the Bulls and there is speculation that the two-time Super Rugby winner will move upstairs to take up a director of rugby post.

“It is a big privilege for me, a tough competition lies ahead and I look forward to taking that on. I heard today about my appointment, I’ve been busy preparing for the U21 leagues, so it’s been a very quick five hours in a man’s life.

“As far as my coaching philosophy goes, for me, if you are being paid R1 to play, then you must really play, for the jersey before anything else, but also for the union and the people who come to watch. I will try very hard to bring that attitude to the team,” Marais said on Saturday night.

The Bulls’ reluctance to come out and reveal their long-term plans is mostly because there are still too many variables that haven’t been decided yet. There has been speculation that if Heyneke Meyer does not get an extension to his Springbok contract then the Bulls would be willing to shell out on him as a director of rugby.

His Springbok support team – Johann van Graan, John McFarland and Ricardo Loubscher – could then join him at Loftus Versfeld.

No conversation about the Bulls’ future coaching structure is complete without Victor Matfield joining the debate. The Springbok lock is already part of the coaching set-up and has indicated his desire to succeed Ludeke.

http://citizen.co.za/sport/sport-rugby/403490/ludeke-on-his-way-out-of-loftus/

Sharks denied in controversial fashion 0

Posted on August 10, 2016 by Ken

The Cell C Sharks were controversially denied a famous victory in Wellington on Saturday as a clear try was disallowed and several marginal calls went against them in the final quarter, as the Hurricanes registered a flattering 32-24 victory in their Vodacom SuperRugby match.

The Sharks, despite making some basic errors in defence in the first half, had pushed the runaway SuperRugby leaders all the way in the first hour, and seemed to have taken a 22-21 lead in the 62nd minute when their rolling maul thundered over the tryline.

Even the Hurricanes seemed in no doubt that the try had been scored, but referee Chris Pollock, who has robbed the Sharks in the past, called for the TMO to review any obstruction and then talked him into a ruling that the visitors had “changed lanes”. Neither leading coach John Mitchell, in the television studio, nor referee Jonathan Kaplan, on social media, could see anything wrong with the try.

The Sharks did reclaim the lead five minutes later, the skills and experience of Francois Steyn and JP Pietersen allowing them to attack from deep and easily create space as they caused the usually efficient Hurricanes defence to hesitate, Pietersen’s lovely offload inside to Odwa Ndungane allowing the wing to score.

Steyn squeezed the conversion over to put the Sharks 24-21 ahead, but the extra try would have given them a far more comfortable cushion going into the final stages.

James Marshall, the struggling stand-in for Beauden Barrett at flyhalf, pulled a straightforward penalty wide in the 70th minute, but the relentless Hurricanes attack brought them the bonus-point try three minutes later, the livewire flank Ardie Savea doing brilliantly down the right touchline to stay infield and get the ball inside for lock Jeremy Thrush to crash over.

The Sharks, who defended well in the second half, had played themselves virtually to a standstill and, with two men down injured, flyhalf Lionel Cronje inexplicably kicked the ball back to the Hurricanes. It was not the first time he had booted away possession at the most inopportune moments either. The counter-attack was swift, down the right, with replacement fullback Reynold Lee-Lo and centre Conrad Smith making good ground and forcing a penalty for hands in the ruck.

Marshall slotted this one to stretch the Hurricanes’ lead to 29-24 and, in the final minute, he kicked the penalty that denied the Sharks a well-deserved bonus point, after the referee had harshly penalised Kyle Cooper, a hooker playing as replacement flank, for going off his feet at a ruck.

The other marginal call by Pollock in the final quarter came when abrasive hooker Motu Matu’u crashed into Ndungane after the wing had kicked but the referee ruled no sanction was necessary.

But it was a gallant effort by a Sharks side for which nothing has gone right this season and they showed they were up for the contest when they opened the scoring in the seventh minute with a try that followed some tremendous attacking play.

They showed great ball-retention, pace on the ball and, with wing S’Bura Sithole and Pietersen making strong runs, they were deep in the Hurricanes’ 22. The home side had a lineout five metres from their own line and Sharks captain Marco Wentzel, the stalwart of that set-piece, slapped the ball out of Thrush’s hands and Bismarck du Plessis drove over for the try.

The Hurricanes were quickly level, however, the sneakiest attacking side in Super Rugby holding the ball through 20 phases and then seizing the opportunity when the Sharks’ defence became too narrow. The sight of Cronje running all over the place indicated there was disarray and centre Ma’a Nonu, a constant threat, produced a lovely long pass out wide for wing Cory Jane to score.

The Sharks were rewarded with a penalty by Steyn (10-7) for their own excellent period of ball-retention, bashing the ball up for 23 phases as props Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira were prominent on the drive and Pietersen was once again direct and effective.

But the Hurricanes were back in front just three minutes later as they reopened gaping holes in the Sharks’ defence. After a lineout, Nonu put left wing Matt Proctor through the gap with a super inside ball and then Smith went through Pietersen’s feeble tackle to score.

Marshall’s conversion put the home side 14-10 up and, when flank Etienne Oosthuizen was yellow-carded for the Sharks’ third high tackle in the opening quarter, the embattled visitors looked as if they might be buried.

But their rolling maul was a good attacking weapon and their pack fronted up in fantastic fashion at the collisions, also winning several turnovers. One of these led to a penalty for the Sharks from halfway in the final minute, but Steyn made a hash of it with a poor strike.

At 10-14 down at the break, the Sharks were still in the game, their simple but effective approach working. At halftime they had used 25 pick-and-goes to zero by the Hurricanes.

The Sharks kept at the Hurricanes in the third quarter, led by Bismarck du Plessis, who at one stage picked scrumhalf Chris Smylie up and carried him back several metres, won successive turnovers and even put in a clearing kick.

The hooker followed that kick up and won the turnover again, the Sharks beating the Hurricanes at their own game as Cronje exploited the space well to send Sithole racing over out wide.

The lead changed hands again in the 53rd minute when the power of Nonu, after eighthman Victor Vito had burst off a scrum, took the Hurricanes into the shadow of the Sharks’ poles and the South African-born replacement flank Reggie Goodes barged over the line.

The conversion was good, but the Sharks fought back once again and surely secured the moral victory, for what it’s worth.

Scorers

Sharks – Tries: Bismarck du Plessis, S’Bura Sithole, Odwa Ndungane. Conversions: Francois Steyn (3). Penalty: Steyn.

Hurricanes – Tries: Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Reggie Goodes, Jeremy Thrush. Conversions: James Marshall (3). Penalties: Marshall (2).

http://citizen.co.za/379129/sharks-denied-in-controversial-fashion/

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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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