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Ken Borland



Chapter & verse from Coetzee, and then what? 0

Posted on December 10, 2017 by Ken

 

In the next week, national coach Allister Coetzee will have to give chapter and verse on what happened to the Springboks this year to the SA Rugby executive council and if he stays true to his public pronouncements after the loss to Wales, then he will describe his charges as “a side that is on the up” and having “a really healthy team environment”.

Which is nothing but a sop for a South African public that rightly expects top-class performances from their national rugby team. Instead, the Springboks have endured a decidedly mediocre year, without a single rousing victory for Coetzee to rave about at his performance review. Victories over France, Argentina and Italy are not results we would expect the Springboks to boast about, and neither were two draws against a very average Australian side.

The results have been disappointing enough but to add insult to injury, the Springboks are playing such uninspired rugby that it feels like we are back to the most conservative days early on in Heyneke Meyer’s tenure as national coach.

Simply put, the Springboks are not making any progress under Coetzee. In fact, we have seen two more unwanted milestones set this year in record defeats to New Zealand and Ireland.

To put an end to this continued slide into mediocrity, SA Rugby simply have to hold Coetzee accountable and relieve him of his duties as Springbok coach. I had sympathy for him this time last year because he was coaching with one hand tied behind his back, perhaps even being set up to fail, but this year he has been given everything he wanted and even said at the start of the campaign that there were no excuses this year.

In the general public, Rassie Erasmus, freshly back in the post of director of rugby, is seen as the obvious candidate to replace Coetzee and try and rescue South Africa’s hopes for the 2019 World Cup.

But Erasmus has shown little desire to emerge from the shadows, from which he has been strategising, and there seems little doubt that the rumours that Deon Davids of the Southern Kings will be the new Springbok coach have emanated from his office via his usual journalistic channels.

Davids has done wonders with the Kings considering the lack of resources, both in terms of players and finance, and time he has had to deal with, and is highly-rated as a coach. But other players and coaches tell me he would be out of his depth at international level.

I do have a fundamental problem, though, if Davids is appointed to merely be the face of the Springboks with Erasmus making all the big decisions.

The Springbok coach needs to be accountable to the fans and he needs to be regularly available to the media to explain his decisions; something Coetzee and those before him have never shirked. Erasmus cannot be allowed to be pulling the strings and not seen to be answerable for the national team’s performance.

As Springbok coach, Coetzee has made some stupid selections (such as neutralising Eben Etzebeth as an enforcer by making him captain) and has rightly been called to task for them; Erasmus cannot be allowed to operate as a dictatorial figure whose instructions are not open to scrutiny.

The time has come for change, but as in Zimbabwean politics, there are concerns that the change won’t necessarily be for the better. The smooth-talking Erasmus has been able to con a lot of people in recent years, but perhaps now is the time for him to display his rugby acumen in the frontline, under the glare of the television cameras and the beady eye of the fourth estate.

 

Home semi secured, so Titans hub may rest 0

Posted on December 07, 2017 by Ken

Now that a RamSlam T20 Challenge home semi-final has been secured, Multiply Titans coach Mark Boucher has the luxury of resting some of his hub players as the runaway log-leaders complete the round-robin phase with two matches this week.

The Titans travel to Cape Town to play the WSB Cape Cobras on Friday, before finishing off against the Hollywoodbets Dolphins in Durban on Sunday. They will then host whoever scrapes into the playoffs in fourth spot in the first semi-final at SuperSport Park next Wednesday.

“Playing on Friday, Sunday and Wednesday could have an effect on the guys, but we’ve got great depth and we’ve earned the right to prepare for the semi-final as we see fit. So there’ll probably be some mixing and matching, we believe we’ve got the momentum and so we can prepare specifically for that semi-final,” said Boucher.

“If we play our best XI for these last two games then we basically just give ourselves one day’s preparation for the semi-final, so I certainly don’t have a problem giving other players an opportunity.

We have some awesome players who haven’t even played a game yet, they’re itching to get on the park, so that will ensure there’s no complacency.”

Boucher said playing at home in the semi-finals would give the players a ‘feel good’ factor, but otherwise it was not a huge advantage for his team.

“Obviously the guys enjoy playing at SuperSport Park and they’re very confident at home, but anything can happen in T20. All the teams have good players who can take the game away from you. So we will have to be on top of our game,” Boucher warned.

Fast bowler Morné Morkel will be available for selection this week, which will give Boucher an opportunity to rest any of his pacemen who may be carrying niggles. Dale Steyn will be playing close to home in the PPC Newlands clash against the Titans, but may well miss the trip to Durban, resting up so he can give it his all in the knockout games.

The Titans will also be happy that they came through their first real test in this season’s competition, beating the vkb Knights with just a ball to spare when all seemed lost in their double-header match in Port Elizabeth at the weekend, which will stand them in good stead should they be under pressure in the semi-finals.

“We always knew there would be a tight game along the way, but I don’t think we batted very well, there were some pretty soft shots by the top-order that got us into that situation. But the middle-order played very well and refused to give it away. Farhaan Behardien is in the form of his life and it was nice to be on top of a tight game before the semis,” concluded Boucher.

http://www.titans.co.za/index.php/categories-1-layout/item/755-feel-good-factor

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The World Cup beckons for both the SA men’s & women’s hockey sides 0

Posted on November 06, 2017 by Ken

 

The World Cup beckons for both the South African women’s and men’s hockey teams after coach Sheldon Rostron pulled off the remarkable feat of steering both sides to the African Cup of Nations title in Ismailia, Egypt, at the weekend.

While the women, who went through the Africa Cup tournament without conceding a goal, had already qualified for the 2018 World Cup in London thanks to their fifth-place finish in the World League Semifinals, the men were under severe pressure, in the last-chance saloon, to beat hosts Egypt and win the continental crown which also gets them to the World Cup, the men’s event being held in India.

With just two minutes remaining in the final, Jethro Eustice scored from a penalty corner to give South Africa the 2-1 victory.

“It was quite a daunting task in the beginning, but with the right preparation and planning it became a lot simpler. I was lucky to have really good support staff and I was really proud of both sets of players,” Rostron told The Citizen on Tuesday when asked how tough it was to coach two teams at the same tournament.

“The specific objective of the women’s side was to not have any goals scored against us, we were using a different structure, and I’m really pleased that worked out and that the ranking points we gained should lift us back to the 11th spot in the world.

“The men’s side had qualification for the World Cup hanging over us, but we implemented a very good process which the players bought into and it was very good to see it come to fruition. In the final though, our plans didn’t work out so well, we were 1-0 down after the first quarter and we had to be more aggressive,” Rostron said.

Competing in Africa, where there is a wide range of strengths when it comes to the opposition, also meant the teams had to at times rein themselves in so as not to become too loose. For the men, this was especially important as a daunting final against Egypt, who beat them in the World League in July, was always going to be lying ahead.

“We had to be very specific, it couldn’t just be about scoring goals and going crazy, every match we played was about using the tactics we were going to use in the final. African teams are so unconventional and forever changing. But now there is a lot of positivity going forward in South African hockey,” Rostron said.

https://citizen.co.za/sport/sport-other-sport/1711538/smart-planning-key-in-sas-brilliant-hockey-double/

Happy Boucher gives out praise & thanks 0

Posted on November 03, 2017 by Ken

 

Coach Mark Boucher was understandably a very happy man after the Multiply Titans’ victory over the bizhub Highveld Lions at the BidVest Wanderers Stadium sent his team into an 11-point lead at the top of the Sunfoil Series log, but he also took time out to praise Lungi Ngidi for his attitude during his rehabilitation and thanked his medical staff for their work on the hugely-promising fast bowler.

Ngidi spearheaded the Titans’ nine-wicket win with match figures of nine for 83 in his first game back from a stress fracture in his back.

“It was very satisfying to see Lungi come through and a lot of credit must go to the medical staff because it was a very serious injury for a fast bowler, a very scary time for him. But they started him bowling again in stages and he needed to change his lifestyle a bit.

“The door has opened up for him at international level, so I told Lungi it was up to him to bash it down. Well everyone has certainly got their eyes on him now! His body has developed, he’s stronger and leaner and his professionalism has changed too.

“So the results he achieved in his first game back were not really a surprise for me, although he is still a work in progress and he will get better. We were tempted to play him a week earlier in Pietermaritzburg, but the medical staff are hired to do a job and they said even though it was possible, they preferred not to rush him back then,” Boucher said.

On a sporty Wanderers pitch, Titans captain Aiden Markram was also a contender for man of the match after innings of 85 and 81 not out, continuing the youngster’s superb form this summer.

“Aiden is still scoring a lot of runs, which makes me very happy. When you look at him, it’s almost as if he’s destined for great things and he’s really taken to his role. He hasn’t been around for a long time, but he’s just looking more and more confident.

“I’m sure the Proteas will relish having him in their system and he understands that the opposition at international level will get tougher and people will start looking at his technique and try to find flaws. But Aiden’s feet are on the floor, that’s his character. He’s also a work in progress, but he’s hungry for runs and he did the hard yards in that first innings,” Boucher said.

But the coach also had praise for a player that is a fair way from playing for the Proteas, but has been an absolute standout for the Titans this season – Malusi Siboto.

The 30-year-old is the leading wicket-taker with 17 at 21.35 and he produced a top-class display in the second innings against the Lions, taking four for 26 as the home side were bundled out for just 165, leaving the Titans with a straightforward target of just 133 for the first win of the season.

“Last season as well, Malusi is an unsung hero, he does the hard work like bowling into the wind, and can keep the run-rate down as well as taking wickets. He’s also made crucial runs for us and we’re going to try and get him into being an all-rounder for us.

“In certain conditions, he’s the leader of our attack. He’s one of those guys that goes under the radar, but if he’s not there then he leaves a massive hole in the team,” Boucher said.

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