for quality writing

Ken Borland



Return of Alberts just the tonic for Sharks 0

Posted on June 07, 2016 by Ken

 

The return of powerhouse flank Willem Alberts to the Sharks team is just the tonic they need in this time of crisis, but coach Gary Gold faces a difficult decision when it comes to either starting the Springbok against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday or bringing him on off the bench.

Alberts has been battling hamstring injuries since last year and has played just one SuperRugby match this season, against the Stormers in Cape Town a month ago, where he re-injured the tendon.

But he’s been back at training this week and Gold will need to decide whether to start with the battering ram and see just how much time they can get out of him, or bring him off the bench and hope he can make an impact and last for 20 minutes or so.

Alberts is the sort of player who can inspire a team and the 30-year-old was positive that the Sharks can turn their fortunes around, while acknowledging that things have not gone according to plan thus far.

“It’s been another new beginning for us this season with a new coaching staff, plus injuries or suspensions making players unavailable. But we still believe that we are in contention and we are working hard for each other. It was obviously a hiccup last week, but luckily in rugby, the next week brings a new chance and we have to take it and move forward,” Alberts said.

The former Lions player is a senior figure at the Sharks and he brushed off suggestions that it was the older players to blame for the KwaZulu-Natalians’ implosion in recent weeks.

“The younger players need to raise their level of play, they have to step up and show that they are up for big rugby. But we were all young players at some stage and we support them, we try our best to help them do their best. There’s a great environment here at the Sharks, with young and old players and we just want to go forward as a team,” Alberts said.

A couple of those older players –props Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira – have played for four weeks in a row now and, in terms of the agreement with Springbok management, they will need to be rested either this weekend or the next.

Given that the Sharks face the Bulls in Durban next week, Gold may well decide to rest them this week ahead of that must-win home match.

Sanzar turn on own judicial officer & appeal Steyn ruling 0

Posted on May 31, 2016 by Ken

 

Francois Steyn’s return to the Sharks captaincy and the flyhalf position for Saturday’s SuperRugby game against the Western Force is now in doubt after Sanzar decided to appeal the decision of their own judicial officer and put the 2007 World Cup winner back on trial for the tip-tackle for which he was red-carded last weekend against the Chiefs.

It is believed All Blacks lawyer Stephen Cottrell is behind Sanzar’s unprecedented decision to appeal against Advocate Jannie Lubbe’s ruling this week that exonerated Steyn, and a Sanzar Appeals Committee, chaired by Terry Willis and with advocates Nigel Hampton and Robert Stelzner as members, will hear the matter via a video conference on Friday morning South African time.

But this will seriously disrupt the Sharks’ preparations for the match against the Force, with their team due to be named on Thursday morning and the Vodacom Cup side off to Cape Town on Friday morning. The franchise has appealed against the timing of the hearing and are looking to get it moved to after the game, either on Sunday or Monday.

Although Lubbe’s decision to clear Steyn was considered to be a highly generous one, Sanzar’s appeal is nevertheless extraordinary as they have never turned on one of their own judicial officers before.

The move has once again reignited old feelings of bitterness that South African players are judged by different standards in the competition, particularly since Cottrell, a legal representative for Sanzar, was the lawyer who defended Brad Thorn when he notoriously up-ended Springbok captain and current CEO John Smit, dumping him on his back without the ball, during a Test against the All Blacks in Wellington in 2008.

Cottrell argued that because Smit did not have the ball, Thorn’s foul play could not be considered a dangerous tackle and he was only given a one-week ban.

It was a decision that outraged the Springboks, for whom current Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold was then an assistant coach.

The uncertainty over Steyn further complicates the issue of the Sharks captaincy in the absence of the rested Pat Lambie and the suspended Bismarck du Plessis.

Do Sanzaar & TMOs act with fairness? 0

Posted on April 14, 2016 by Ken

 

Sanzaar’s decision to slap Sharks coach Gary Gold with a fine of A$13 500 – which is more than R150 000 – has once again raised the infuriating issue of whether southern hemisphere rugby’s governing body acts with fairness in disciplinary matters concerning South African teams.

Gold was fined for having a less-than-polite chat during the game against the Crusaders with TMO Johan Greeff. The Sharks – and many other teams – have history with this woefully incompetent official as it was his abysmal decision to award a try that saw them lose to the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld last year.

While I have no problem with Gold being fined – even he admitted that what he did was wrong – what raised my ire was the severity of the punishment handed down by Kiwi judicial officer Nigel Hampton.

Especially when one considers that the selfsame Hampton only fined then-Waratahs coach Michael Cheika A$6000 in April 2014 for abusing a cameraman in Durban, also with foul language. And Cheika was a repeat offender, as Hampton himself pointed out in his judgement – “I do not regard Mr Cheika to be a first-time offender and it would be farcical to disregard other matters over the past nine years, including proven misconduct allegations from his time as a professional coach in Europe and a warning from Sanzar during the 2013 SuperRugby season,” he said.

“This matter bears a number of striking similarities with past instances, particularly the use of foul and abusive language towards those charged with running a match and the propensity of Mr Cheika to behave in this manner is disturbing. Given his previous record and the factual findings of the investigation, I regard this as a serious offence and do not see it as a result of any provocation, nor is there any excuse for it.

“Mr Cheika’s admission of guilt and contrition during the hearing is balanced by inappropriate accusations made on his behalf that witnesses fabricated evidence; a notion they rightly recoiled at.”

Cheika was also found guilty, last year, of approaching a referee at halftime and, guess what? Sanzar let him off with a warning!

What is equally infuriating is that Sanzaar continue to come down hard on the symptom of the problem and not the cause – which is incompetent TMOs.

While I have great sympathy for referees, who have to make split-second rulings based on a bewildering variety of laws, especially at ruck time, TMOs really should not be making the mistakes they do. Knowing the laws is one thing, but not being able to see or interpret several replays properly is another; I’d be willing to wager that you could drag someone out of the crowd in their denim jeans and they could do a better job than some of the TMOs Sanzaar have inflicted on the game.

Greeff’s failure to properly review two occurrences in the game against the Crusaders had an obvious impact on the result of the match.

The first was Willie le Roux’s disallowed try in the 66th minute that would have given the Sharks a 19-12 lead. Greeff made a rapid decision that the fullback was in front of the kicker but he made use of just one replay, and the camera angle wasn’t even in line with play.

Then, in the 72nd minute, when Kieran Read scored to give the Crusaders a 19-14 victory, Greeff declined to look at a replay after there had been a suggestion of a knock-on in the 15-phase build-up to the try.

Much of the rugby public is already feeling confused and disenchanted with SuperRugby and its new format; when the officials are seemingly watching an entirely different game to them on TV, despite having the benefit of several replays, then the usual reaction is one of anger and frustration and no brand should want the customers to go through that.

 

Gold defends Sharks’ decision to sign Ralepelle 0

Posted on November 06, 2015 by Ken

 

Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold on Monday defended the decision to sign Springbok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle despite the fact that he is serving a doping ban, saying other teams were also chasing his signature and that his suitability had been thoroughly investigated.

Ralepelle, who won two Super Rugby titles with the Bulls, was handed a two-year suspension by WorldRugby after an out-of-competition doping test in March 2014 returned a positive test for a metabolite of an anabolic steroid, drostanolone, he had used while recovering from an operation on an anterior cruciate ligament following a knee injury he sustained while playing for Toulouse against Biarritz in France.

“We have done due diligence and Chiliboy is very remorseful. He deserved his penalty, there is no excuse for what he did and he knows that, but he will have done his time in April next year, four games into Super Rugby.

“We weren’t the only people in the market for him and I hope he will do his talking on the field. He’s an outstanding leader, he’s matured as a player at 29 and he deserves a second chance. Personally I think he got a raw deal before going to France, it was very sad that he was let go. He’s an outstanding player and, while I was forwards coach for the Springboks, he put John Smit and Bismarck du Plessis under real pressure. His work-rate is sensational, he carries and drives well and his set-piece work is precise,” Gold told The Citizen on Monday.

Several critics have expressed their anger at the decision to sign the hooker with 22 Test caps between 2006 and 2013, but the double-standard is clear when one considers how Johan Ackermann, who was banned for two years in 1997 for taking nandrolone to help heal a knee injury, has been welcomed back into the fold and is doing great work as the Lions coach.

The new year will also see the Sharks sporting a new assistant coach in former Springbok scrumhalf Robert du Preez, who has just steered the North-West Leopards to the Currie Cup First Division title, and a new defence coach in Omar Mouneimne, who has worked with Italy, Edinburgh, the EP Kings and Lyon.

Highly promising Western Province lock Ruan Botha has been mentioned as another possible signing for the Sharks, but he is still under contract in Cape Town, although Springbok Pieter-Steph du Toit’s move from Durban to the Stormers could see him eager to relocate.

 

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Thought of the Day

    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



↑ Top