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Ken Borland



John McFarland Column: Attitude makes all the difference for B&I Lions 0

Posted on July 06, 2017 by Ken

 

One has to credit the British and Irish Lions for their win over the All Blacks in the second Test, especially after losing the first Test the way they did.

They just brought a harder attitude in Wellington, a desperation to get the win. To keep the All Blacks tryless, even though they only had 14 men for most of the game, takes some doing, and the attitude they showed on the day was top-class.

It was definitely a red card for Sonny Bill Williams, he made no effort to raise his hand or grip Anthony Watson in the tackle, and his shoulder made contact with the head.

The last penalty – for the Charlie Faumuina tackle on Kyle Sinckler while he was airborne – was a little bit harsh though. When a player jumps to catch a pass above his head and it’s a gain-line tackle, the tackler is already committed and in motion, so it is very difficult for there to be any other outcome.

Jumping into a tackle is also a penalisable offence, but sometimes when the pass goes upwards, the player has to take it airborne. So it’s an anomaly that the lawmakers have to look at going forward.

The All Blacks had to play with 14 men for so long, that it was quite heroic of them to stay in the game; they did not manage to score a try, but they kept the scoreboard ticking over with penalties.

If a team fields two openside flanks like the Lions did with Sean O’Brien and Sam Warburton, then the penalty count will be high because they go hard on the ball on the floor and to make tackle attempts to get the All Blacks to bring more players to the ruck. It brings a different philosophy at ruck time, they were trying to disrupt the All Blacks’ attacking pattern by bringing more players to the ruck and then the attacking shape won’t be what it should be.

The British Lions’ set-piece was of a high standard and their forward effort was built on the success at Saracens, the pack had a very high work-rate.

But whether the Lions can back up that performance with another one at Eden Park in Auckland this weekend will be a hard task. They will need the same desperation and, at the end of a long season, will they be able to produce that again? They will need extra effort on the gain-line once again.

In SuperRugby, the Gauteng Lions basically had a game of touch rugby, but I thought the Bulls played well against the Sharks.

I’m a little worried by the inconsistency of the Sharks, they have been poor at home in too many games and I can’t see them winning on the road in New Zealand, so it’s definitely a problem. For Robert du Preez to so publicly take on his players shows that something is not right.

But the Bulls have clearly gained confidence in the break, they won the Mauritius 10s with their SuperRugby team and played some good rugby.

I’ve been quite impressed with how they have blooded youngsters and someone like Duncan Matthews has really come through.

It’s also very encouraging to see Jan Serfontein and Jesse Kriel play so well, and they have obviously gained confidence through their time together with the Springboks for the June Tests and they are both starting to show leadership.

Jesse is such a strong character and his enthusiasm rubs off on the players around him, and he is a big part of the new era at the Bulls.

When Jan decided to leave the Bulls, he was recovering from a long-term injury. But he’s been on the Springboks’ radar since 2012 and has never let them down. He has gained experience since being named World Junior Player of the Year in 2012 and the Test series against France saw him fulfil his potential.

One needs to look at Brendan Venter’s influence on him and you can just see the confidence and belief is there right now. Jan was backed at the start of the series and knew he would play all three Tests.

It always takes five or six weeks after long-term injury for a player to rediscover their form and then they really hit their straps in weeks eight to 10. It’s unfortunate that Jan is leaving, but I really hope he stays fit and can get to the 30-Test cut-off mark in the Rugby Championship.

It begs the question whether SA Rugby have made the right decision when it comes to the 30-Test cut-off for overseas eligibility, especially if a player gets injured (e.g. Marcell Coetzee, who is short of 30 caps because of injury), and how will it work going forward with Jan, who has signed to play in France but currently only has 29 caps?

The Springboks cannot ignore Jan’s form nor talent, or the impact he had on the series against France.

That being said, the success of the series was Allister Coetzee’s decision to pick mostly home-based players, which led to a great series win.

 

 

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.

Sharks do the job in first half as they romp to victory 0

Posted on May 23, 2016 by Ken

 

The Cell C Sharks did most of the job in a scintillating first half as they romped to a 53-0 win over the Southern Kings in their Vodacom SuperRugby match at Growthpoint Kings Park on Saturday.

Although the Sharks produced some dazzling rugby and were ruthless in punishing Kings mistakes, the sheer lack of nous and effort on defence by the visitors did irk for those who want to see a good contest.

The Kings were much-improved in the second half, but by then, with the Sharks already 43-0 up at halftime, they were left with far too much of a mountain to climb.

The Sharks sealed the bonus point with a devastating burst of three tries in five minutes midway through the first half, and the five points they collected from the game ensures that they stay in touch with the Lions, the pacesetters from Joburg having gained a bonus point win over the Jaguares earlier in the afternoon.

The Sharks’ strategy of avoiding the physical Kings at close quarters and instead attacking them out wide paid dividends because the defence was too narrow and slow to shift across.

And the opening try came in the eighth minute as the Sharks shipped the ball wide and found outside centre Paul Jordaan in space, and then flyhalf Pat Lambie produced a great supporting run on his inside to receive the scoring pass.

Lambie and replacement flank Tera Mtembu then produced good runs to set up a 14th-minute penalty for Lambie (8-0).

Five minutes later, Kings wing Lukhanyo Am roared through the defences and was stopped just short of the line. To the utter frustration of the Kings, possession was then recycled but knocked on, with the rampant Lambie picking up the loose ball and racing away, passing to Jordaan for the pace man to finish off (15-0).

The Kings were not only battling to handle the width and pace of the Sharks game, but they were also being ousted off the ball at scrum time. One such strong scrum by the Sharks in the 22nd minute saw the home side fashion a try any skilful Australian backline would have been proud of – Willie le Roux found Jordaan out wide with a lovely pass, the outside centre then passing back inside for the fullback to storm over for the try.

From the kickoff, a very good interchange between wing JP Pietersen and flank Keegan Daniel saw the Sharks attack down the right before Jordaan was sent racing down the outside for his second try.

Some fine play by the Sharks had been rewarded on the scoreboard as they raced into a 29-0 lead in the first half-hour, but the lovely rugby was not quite over yet as the home side sealed a sumptuous first half with two more tries.

A good run by wing Lwazi Mvovo was followed by Le Roux’s acute vision putting centre Andre Esterhuizen in the gap, and although he probably should have passed, he powered over for the try himself, taking a defender over the line with him.

Lovely hands by the forwards then worked Pietersen over in the corner for the sixth try two minutes before the break, Lambie converting from the touchline to make the score 43-0.

There was no coming back from that awful first half for the Kings, but they did at least restore some pride in the second half.

The Sharks did score in the first 10 minutes after the break, Lambie getting on the end of a chip from Pietersen and running 50 metres to score, but a more sturdy defensive effort from the Kings meant the Sharks only scored again with just three minutes left in the match.

Replacement Odwa Ndungane fielded a kick and launched a superb counter-attack from the back, the kick ahead by Mvovo forcing the penalty inside the Kings’ 22. From the tap and then the ruck, replacement prop Thomas du Toit picked up and rumbled over the line for the eighth and final try.

Lambie, Jordaan and Daniel were the stars of the show for the Sharks, but the scrum laid the perfect platform and the good, clean ball from the forwards was put to fine use by the home side.

Scorers

Cell C Sharks: Tries – Pat Lambie (2), Paul Jordaan (2), Willie le Roux, Andre Esterhuizen, JP Pietersen, Thomas du Toit. Conversions – Lambie (5). Penalty – Lambie.

Bulls retain starting XV that did the job in Perth 0

Posted on May 04, 2016 by Ken

 

Bulls coach Nollis Marais has unsurprisingly chosen the same starting XV that did the job so well in Perth for their SuperRugby match against the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday.

The only change to the 23 that hammered the Western Force 42-20 is on the bench, where Dan Kriel replaces Dries Swanepoel as the reserve centre.

“We’ve gained good momentum from our last time out so I’ve made just the one change, Dan and Dries swopping around because I’ve been rotating them every week and they can both play 12, 13 and wing.

“There are certain things that we will try and improve on, but we’re getting better every game, small things are getting better every week, but it’s really just about winning,” Marais said on Tuesday from Sydney, where they are based for their preparations.

The bonus point win over the Force means the Bulls are not only sitting pretty in Africa Conference 1, just one point behind the Stormers with a game in hand, but it also highlighted the tremendous depth that Marais now has as he negotiates their playoff push with the competition just over the halfway mark.

The loose trio of Lappies Labuschagne, Arno Botha and Hanro Liebenberg, with Jannes Kirsten coming off the bench, dovetailed superbly against the Force; Marvin Orie’s performance at lock was highly encouraging given that the Bulls also have the outstanding RG Snyman playing superbly, as well as rising star Jason Jenkins and the reliable Grant Hattingh in reserve; while Francois Brummer has settled in well at flyhalf, with Piet van Zyl and Rudy Paige being two accomplished scrumhalves who are good enough to have played for the Springboks.

“At the beginning of the season, we only had three loose forwards, so it’s great that there’s now healthy competition. I’ve backed Hanro because I believe in his future, Arno was brilliant at seven and Jannes had one of the highest work-rates we’ve ever recorded when he came off the bench. So to keep your place in the loose trio, you have to play to your potential.

“Marvin has great talent and led the lineout calls last year in the Currie Cup. Although it didn’t go so well for him at the start of this season, Jason’s injury gave him an opportunity and he took his chance.

“In terms of the half-backs, we want to play a fast game and be tactical, and they struggled with that a bit at the start. But Piet gets us quickly over the advantage line and Francois is kicking at 90% and his commitment in making that corner-flag tackle was outstanding,” Marais said.

Bulls team – SP Marais, Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Francois Brummer, Piet van Zyl, Hanro Liebenberg, Arno Botha, Lappies Labuschagne, Marvin Orie, RG Snyman, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss (c), Trevor Nyakane. Bench: Bandise Maku, Lizo Gqoboka, Werner Kruger, Jannes Kirsten, Roelof Smit, Rudy Paige, Tian Schoeman, Dan Kriel.

Bhubesi Pride – really making a difference to African rugby 0

Posted on November 13, 2015 by Ken

 

 

One day when Richard Bennett is old and greying and watching Zambia make their debut in the 2039 World Cup he will sit back and reflect on how his Bhubesi Pride Foundation really did make a difference to African rugby after all.

Bhubesi Pride is the initiative Bennett started in 2010 to bring together rural communities, NGOs and government departments in Africa with lovers of rugby union. It’s basically a charitable initiative that selects volunteers from all over the world to help develop rugby and harness its benefits for society in general.

According to Bennett, Bhubesi Pride has three main objectives: “To unite communities through rugby, promoting the sport’s values and life skills; empower and up-skill local staff, nurturing community leaders, male and female, in a way that maximises sustainability; and to inspire long-term developmental outcomes via tangible legacy projects, alongside in-country partners.”

The current expedition, which began at the end of January, is travelling through Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa and the 25-strong team of volunteers is drawn from 11 different countries.

The charity has reached over 10 000 children since 2012 and the likes of Ethiopia and Rwanda have also featured on the itinerary.

The key goal for Bennett is sustainability and the synergies between Bhubesi Pride and WorldRugby’s own Get Into Rugby initiatives in Africa are obvious.

“We do overlap with Get Into Rugby, we have the same basic premise, which is to offer rugby as a means of bringing communities together, to give youngsters life skills and to promote the values of WorldRugby. There’s a synergy between us and we like to support those efforts.

“Ideally, we want to up-skill local teachers, show them how to teach and coach rugby. Bhubesi Pride is a legacy program and we want to inspire the people we work with. If we just coach rugby and bugger off five days later, then there’s very little sustainability, which is the key. The important thing is we see a lot of kids come back to our sessions and we can see the improvement in them,” Bennett says.

Building a new netball court at the Emzomncane Primary School in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and opening a new computer room, complete with 25 computers, in the rural Nahumba Basic School in Choma, Zambia, are just a couple of the legacy projects Bhubesi Pride have implemented.

And it’s not as if  Bhubesi Pride arrive and sweep through villages with all the subtlety of Schalk Burger entering a ruck either. They are sensitive to the needs of local communities and Bennett says the volunteers only arrive in a village after the foundation’s management have met with all the key stakeholders to nail down their plans. The places to visit are suggested by the NGOs, government departments and rugby structures in the host country.

G4S Africa have signed on as the foundation’s lead partner due to their success thus far.

“Bhubesi Pride is really making a significant difference to the lives of children, teachers and the community around us. We definitely see opportunities to expand the programme and we are on board all the way. We’re also keen to get involved in community legacy projects that make a difference to the youth,” Elanie Kruger, the Regional HR Director of G4S Africa, says.

Wordsworth Rashid, a 43-year-old from Lilongwe, Malawi, is a prime example of the difference Bhubesi Pride is making in the lives of people.

“Wordsworth e-mailed me out of the blue in 2010 and has been involved in every expedition since 2011. He’s a special needs co-ordinator, he’s passionate about education and providing for the needs of people.

“Bhubesi Pride has taken Wordsworth out of Malawi for the first time in his life and he’s now our project manager in Lilongwe, he organises everything for us. With the support of the expat community in Lilongwe, we’re hoping to be able to employ Wordsworth for the whole year and he can set up sport and educational programs,” Bennett says.

With the support of G4S, the Bill McLaren Foundation, Inmarsat, Flya Sportswear, DHL, Investec and Norton Rose Fulbright, Bhubesi Pride were able to set off on their latest expedition in a brilliantly branded combi. They will be bringing rugby gear and equipment with them – they have provided over 20 000 euros worth of resources over the last three years – and they plan to expand operations in Africa over the next three years, with Mozambique being added this year. They are hoping to reach 70 schools and communities by 2017 and accredit 250 locals as coaches or referees.

Building and stocking libraries and classrooms, or providing desks are also in the plans, as is establishing rugby academies.

Oregan Hoskins, the vice-chairman of WorldRugby, is a supporter of the foundation.

“I’m really happy to see Bhubesi Pride continue doing what they do so well: Spreading the game at grassroots level, transporting kids to tournament days and delivering life skills talks,” Hoskins says.

Bhubesi Pride is now accepting volunteer applications from all over the world and, thanks to further sponsorship, has been able to significantly decrease its volunteer fees for 2016.

Find out more about Bhubesi Pride and how you can volunteer at http://rugbyinafrica.org/ and http://rugbyinafrica.org/about/apply-to-join-us/

 

 



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