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Ken Borland



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.

 

 

Hard words spoken, but now Bulls need to do their talking on the field 0

Posted on August 18, 2015 by Ken

 

Vodacom Bulls captain Pierre Spies disclosed this week that there were “hard words” spoken amongst the team after their lacklustre opening loss to the Stormers, but they are definitely going to have to do their talking on the field tonight if they are to beat a star-studded Hurricanes side in their SuperRugby match at Loftus Versfeld.

The details of the defeat to the Stormers will show that the Bulls were dominated at scrum time, failed to trouble the opposition lineout, missed 18 tackles and conceded eight linebreaks as they lost the gain-line battle, but the single biggest factor in the loss was attitude.

“We’ve had hard words for each other this week, we know that we’re a much better team than that. We made way too many mistakes, which means you can’t build pressure. Against the Hurricanes we have to execute what we do well, we have to take care of the ball and be clinical,” Spies said.

The Hurricanes will field a lethal backline featuring TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Julian Savea, the returning Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith and Cory Jane, hence the Bulls stressing the importance of not allowing them turnover ball.

“Broken field is what they want, turnover ball, and like all New Zealand teams if they get front-foot ball and get their offloads going, then they are lethal,” Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said. “But they also have a strong defence, they’ve definitely improved there, their work-rate is good, they get numbers up in defence, and they’re very competitive at the collisions.”

Judging by the performance against the Stormers, Ludeke’s new game plan seems to be going down with his team like oil with water, but the coach said he can live with the mistakes as long as the decision-making of his players is correct.

“You win games from broken field these days because if you just carry the ball all the time you will eventually lose it. It comes down to decision-making, it’s about space and numbers and not trying to create something that’s not there. Passes not going to hand can happen and sometimes the contact skills of the players let them down, but as long as the attacking mindset is there,” Ludeke said.

The Hurricanes, who beat the Lions last weekend at Ellis Park, don’t have a great record on tour here and the last time they won two games in South Africa was way back in 2006. But they certainly made a statement against the Lions and if the Bulls also make numerous mistakes, then the Wellington-based side has more than enough firepower to punish them.

The Bulls need to up their intensity up front so they don’t look like carthorses again against a mobile Hurricanes pack, while the scrum needs a drastic improvement in the absence of tighthead Marcel van der Merwe with a knee injury.

The Bulls have plenty of talent, but one can’t expect the younger players to do everything; the Bulls’ senior players really need to step up tonight.

Teams

Bulls: 15-Jesse Kriel, 14-Bjorn Basson, 13-JJ Engelbrecht, 12-Jan Serfontein, 11-Francois Hougaard, 10-Handre Pollard, 9-Piet van Zyl, 8-Pierre Spies, 7-Lappies Labuschagne, 6-Deon Stegmann, 5-Victor Matfield, 4-Jacques du Plessis, 3-Trevor Nyakane, 2-Adriaan Strauss, 1-Morne Mellet. Reserves – 16-Callie Visagie, 17-Dean Greyling, 18-Grant Hattingh, 19-Hanro Liebenberg, 20-Rudy Paige, 21-Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22-Jurgen Visser, 23-Dayan van der Westhuizen.

Hurricanes: 15-Jason Woodward, 14-Cory Jane, 13-Conrad Smith, 12-Ma’a Nonu, 11-Julian Savea, 10-Beauden Barrett, 9-TJ Perenara, 8-Blade Thomson, 7-Callum Gibbins, 6-Brad Shields, 5-James Broadhurst, 4-Mark Abbott, 3-Ben Franks, 2-Dane Coles, 1-Reggie Goodes. Reserves – 16-Brayden Mitchell, 17-Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18-Chris Eves, 19-Ardie Savea, 20-Victor Vito, 21-Chris Smylie, 22-James Marshall, 23-Matt Proctor.

 

Jean as skipper & experience will be basis of World Cup squad 0

Posted on May 11, 2015 by Ken

 

Judging by his performance at a SuperSport networking luncheon this week, Jean de Villiers definitely has a future as a comedian and television personality, such was the brilliance of his timing and the sheer sense and empathy with which he spoke.

De Villiers has made his name of course with the superb timing he displays on attack and defence in the Springbok midfield and let’s hope the 34-year-old’s next major appearance on SuperSport is as captain of the World Cup squad in England.

Coach Heyneke Meyer is certainly hoping so and, whatever the haters say about taking “old-age” players to the World Cup, experience is the common thread that runs through every winner of that tournament and Meyer would be stupid to undo the last three years of preparation in order to choose flavour-of-the-month players now that the curtain is about to go up.

The one certainty about the 31-man World Cup squad that Meyer finally announces is that there are definitely going to be some very unlucky, excellent players missing out.

Unfortunately, De Villiers’ centre position is one of the areas where the Springboks are relative paupers.

Assuming that the captain will be fit (and he certainly thinks he will be), then his midfield partner is likely to be Jan Serfontein or Damian de Allende. Meyer has already said that he will be taking 18 forwards to the World Cup, so that leaves space for just 13 backs, three of which have to be scrumhalves – Fourie du Preez, Ruan Pienaar and Francois Hougaard as a utility back.

Three flyhalves would also seem necessary with Pat Lambie, Elton Jantjies and Handre Pollard, who can also provide centre cover, the frontrunners. Someone like fullback Jesse Kriel, because he can also play in midfield, could provide additional cover and, if there is a new cap in the squad then the Bulls prospect will probably by the man. If De Villiers doesn’t make it, then Lionel Mapoe will probably be next in line, especially since he can play outside centre, where the Springboks are particularly thin.

JP Pietersen, if he can regain his best form, obviously brings the ideal combination of experience and versatility, being able to play wing, fullback or outside centre.

Lock is the other worrying position with Eben Etzebeth and Victor Matfield the only contenders who are currently fit. Meyer said he favours a split of four locks and five loose forwards in the squad, with nine front-rowers compulsory, so Pieter-Steph du Toit, who can play flank as well, is a vital selection and Lood de Jager, if fit, or Teboho Mohoje will be the other second-rower .

But injuries could mean Meyer is forced to include uncapped players like Jacques du Plessis or Ruan Botha.

The coach is going to be given sleepless nights by the conundrum facing him at loose-forward. How do you choose five from the wealth of talent that is available?

The Springboks have been well-served by Francois Louw, Willem Alberts and Duane Vermuelen as a starting trio, so who backs them up?

Schalk Burger will probably be one of the two extra loosies by virtue of his experience and ability to play all three positions, which leaves the fifth back-row spot to be fought over by Marcell Coetzee, Mohoje, Warren Whiteley, Nizaam Carr, Arno Botha, Siya Kolisi, Jaco Kriel and Pierre Spies!

The incumbent Springbok front row of Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis is going to be given a tremendous run for their money by Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss and Frans Malherbe, while the third complete front row required should be made up of Coenie Oosthuizen, Scarra Ntubeni and either Marcel van der Merwe, Julian Redelinghuys or Vincent Koch.

Probable Springbok World Cup squad – Willie le Roux, Jesse Kriel; Cornal Hendricks, Bryan Habana, Francois Hougaard; Jan Serfontein, Jean de Villiers, Damian de Allende; Handre Pollard, Pat Lambie, Elton Jantjies; Fourie du Preez, Ruan Pienaar; Duane Vermuelen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Marcell Coetzee; Victor Matfield, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Teboho Mohoje; Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Frans Malherbe, Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Marcel van der Merwe, Scarra Ntubeni, Coenie Oosthuizen.

 

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  • 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



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