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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.

SA U19s struggle, honourable mention for Janneman Malan 0

Posted on September 12, 2014 by Ken

Compared to the efforts of his team-mates, Janneman Malan’s exploits on the South Africa U19 tour of England in August might have them considering erecting a statue in his honour at Waterkloof High School in Pretoria.

Malan was the only obvious success story to come out of a tour in which the SA U19s failed to win a game. The strong performance of the first four-day youth test, which was drawn, gradually gave way to a series of disappointing performances, especially by the batsmen.

Malan, however, batted superbly, passing 50 in six successive matches on tour, before being run out for 3 in the final ODI.

The optimism of the first two days of the series, when South Africa scored 433 in the first youth test at Fenners, Cambridge, thanks to Grant Roelofsen’s 149, and then reduced England to 199 for six, was in stark contrast to the end of the tour, with Lawrence Mahatlane’s new-look team suffering a 5-0 whitewash in the limited-overs games.

The determination of the English lower-order saw them save the first test and the frailties of the South African batting line-up then became apparent in the second test as they were bundled out for just 77 in their first innings in Northampton.

But with Hanco Olivier showing his mettle in batting for five hours in scoring 79 not out and Malan making 55 in three hours, South Africa were able to save the game and draw the test series as the fourth and final day was entirely washed out.

Malan, who scored 83 in the second innings of the first test, continued his brilliant run by making 56, 76, 52 and 51 in the first four ODIs, but his efforts were in vain as England took the spoils every time.

Keith Dudgeon sparked a late comeback by taking five wickets in the first ODI at Edgbaston, but South Africa had only posted an insufficient 227 and lost by two wickets with four balls to spare.

It was the closest match of the series as South Africa’s junior internationals were given the mother and father of hidings thereafter, twice in Nottingham and once each in Leicester and Derby.

The hosts won the toss in all five ODIs and certainly made it count, opening batsman Haseeb Hameed starting the series with two scores of 97 and then making 125 in the decisive third ODI; while number three Tom Alsop made a century in the second game and 57 in the third.

Pacemen Luke Wood, Josh Shaw and Will Rhodes were a handful for the SA U19 batsmen throughout the tour.

 

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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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