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Ken Borland



A passionate, top-class SA coach without a job 0

Posted on May 24, 2017 by Ken

 

Despite a poor final year in charge of the Springboks, there is little doubt Heyneke Meyer remains a top-class coach and it is a symptom of a sick South African rugby system that the 49-year-old is without a full-time coaching job despite making it clear that he still wants to make a difference to the game in this country.

Meyer was back at Loftus Versfeld a couple of days ago to launch the Beachcomber World Club 10s, a unique tournament for professional teams in a social environment, that will be held in Mauritius next month, but there is no doubt he still harbours a burning desire to be involved in the cauldron of top quality rugby again judging by the passion with which he answered a range of questions on South African rugby.

Although a great admirer of New Zealand rugby and a personal friend of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, Meyer makes a good point when he says a drive to play like the Kiwis do is a case of chasing the wind for South African rugby.

He reckons it will take us 10 years to catch up to their style of play, by which time their game will have evolved and they will still be 10 years ahead of South Africa. It is perhaps a symptom of our insecurity as a nation that we are always trying to copy other teams – in the early 2000s it was Australian rugby that was the flavour of the month.

Meyer, who has been working with plenty of New Zealanders and Fijians in his part-time role as coach of the Asia Pacific Dragons team, points to a higher innate skills level as one of the main reasons South Africans will find it very difficult to emulate the free-flowing, expansive style of the Kiwis.

“South Africans don’t have the same natural understanding of space that they do, but I truly believe any of our teams can still beat a New Zealand team, especially at home. But if we try and follow them then we’ll never be the best in the world. We have to rediscover what we stand for and play South African rugby – brilliant set-pieces, driving, strong defence. We must do what we’re good at and kick intelligently, not just kick the ball away,” Meyer said.

The national coach from 2012 to 2015 made the point that ex-Springbok coaches are practically driven out of the country and pointed to Eddie Jones travelling from Australia to South Africa and now to England as an example of the value of experience, even if it comes from losing a few games.

“Eddie lost eight games in a row with Australia and was fired, he then helped the Springboks and learnt a lot there. In fact England are now playing like the Boks used to – they have great set-pieces, a great defence and kicking game, they still score tries and they’re on a winning run. It would be 50/50 right now between them and the All Blacks.”

Many observers have pointed to the speed at which New Zealand teams play the game and Meyer said this difference was most marked towards the end of matches, due to the superior fitness of the Kiwis.

“The All Blacks have always been superior in terms of fitness. We have big, strong guys, but it’s harder to get them fit. New Zealand have smaller but more mobile players and they run you ragged in the last 10-15 minutes. Central contracting means Steve Hansen knows the fitness of all his players and whether they need to rest or work harder.

“But you can’t do major fitness work if your players are tired or injured and our guys going overseas makes it very difficult, I’m very concerned about all the guys in Japan because you can’t play for 12 months. Before the last World Cup, I did not see the players for eight months so I asked for fitness reports from the franchises and nobody sent them in.

“So when I got the players I knew we were in trouble and the guys were not fit for the first game against Japan. But the All Blacks get to rest for three months after SuperRugby, so they’re super-fit for the next year, but we’re playing Currie Cup or in Japan. It’s very difficult for the South African coaches,” Meyer said.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170513/282578787965088

Griquas’ previous wins in Durban mean Sharks in no doubt about challenge 0

Posted on August 11, 2016 by Ken

 

If the Sharks were in any doubt about Griquas presenting them with a tough challenge in their Currie Cup match at Kings Park on Friday night, then the fact that the Northern Cape side have won their last two matches in Durban should dispel any notions of a stroll in the park.

Although the KwaZulu-Natalians beat Griquas 45-20 in Kimberley last year, Griquas won 21-18 at Kings Park in 2014, repeating their 32-30 triumph there in 2013, and Sharks coach Robert du Preez is in no mood for complacency this week.

“Griquas are a very tough side, they’ll be very physical, and we have to bring our A game to beat them,” Du Preez said.

While the Sharks at their best are able to keep ball in hand and stretch most defences, it will be up front in the trenches where Friday night’s game will be won or lost.

“We’re looking to keep ball-in-hand for longer and play more rugby, but the forwards need to create the space on the outside, they need to be direct and dominate contact. You have to earn the right to go wide.

“Griquas are always gutsy, they did well in the qualifiers and I think we’re up for a hard game. They’ll come out and play good rugby, with a lot of energy running on to the ball. They enjoy playing with the ball, they’re unpredictable and they also have their maul and their direct forward play,” loose forward Philip van der Walt said.

Griquas were the leading qualifiers from the preliminary stage, with 11 wins in 14 games, but the whole EP Kings saga has hampered the momentum they would have wanted to take into the Premier Division.

They were originally going to play the Kings in last weekend’s opening round of fixtues, but then it was going to be the Leopards and then they ended up eventually having a bye.

“It has been an unbelievably frustrating couple of weeks, it’s been difficult. We have been doing analysis on three different teams, focused training with a team picked to play the Leopards and then we did not even have a game last week. Some key players were rested for the last game of the qualifiers and the result is some players have not played for over four weeks!

“Mentally it has been difficult and after finishing as the first qualifiers we did not expect this, but we have been training hard, we refocused and will ensure we give everything to make our supporters proud of Griquas,” Peter Engledow, the coach of Griquas, told the side’s website.

 

Pierre de Bruyn: A disciplinarian who rates flexibility 0

Posted on November 21, 2014 by Ken

No one would ever doubt Pierre de Bruyn when he says “discipline is a non-negotiable in this environment”, but what might surprise people is that the Assupol Tuks head coach rates flexibility as the most important ingredient in the tremendous success he has enjoyed since coming to the University of Pretoria in 2010.

“There are plenty of theories thrown out about coaching, but my philosophy, what I really believe is the number one factor to being successful as a coach, is that you have to have flexibility. Discipline is non-negotiable in this environment, but every day you’re dealing with different personalities, attitudes, levels of skill and even different goals. So you really have to understand people,” De Bruyn told The Medalist.

“You need to get on the same boat as the individual, you need to work with them and help them get to the next level, like Theunis de Bruyn and Aiden Markram have embarked on their journey. But the player needs to trust you if you’re going to go on that journey with them, which is why you must understand the individual player.”

De Bruyn hides a steely interior behind this talk of flexibility, trust and understanding. During his 15-year career as a player for Easterns, Northerns, the Titans and the Dolphins, De Bruyn was acknowledged as one of the toughest competitors on the circuit, someone who made the absolute most of his talents.

“I wasn’t talented at all. But I managed to string together 15 years as a professional cricketer through complete hard work. I always tried to be one step ahead of the guy next to me through focus, discipline and enormous work ethic. I really wanted the tough situation,” he said.

“Talent is not enough and I always work on the mental aspect with my players. A good, solid mentality is key to succeeding in cricket and if you don’t have good discipline – at training, on the field and at home – how can you expect to play winning cricket? I want my players to understand that without discipline, they’ll be inconsistent and unreliable players.”

There is little doubt that players like Theunis de Bruyn, who has already made a strong start to the domestic franchise season, Graeme van Buuren, Markram, Corbin Bosch and Heinrich Klaasen will enjoy successful careers thanks to the foundation that has been laid at Tuks.

“Pierre has brought 15 years of experience in first-class cricket and he’s introduced a culture where young people can really learn their game and how to be successful at higher levels. It’s a very professional environment here and that’s why our players are able to excel when they go up to first-class level,” Theunis de Bruyn says.

While stressing the importance of the individual, coach De Bruyn will never allow that to become more important than the team ethos.

“One philosophy that is clear in our team, and every team member is in the same position, is that while we will work out how to meet a player’s personal needs, that can never overtake the team goals. We’ve created a culture of success here, we’ve built something special over the last five years,” he said.

And tradition will continue to play an important role in a club that has produced such stars as Mike Macaulay, Syd Burke, Alan Jordaan, Hein Raath, Tertius Bosch, Anton Ferreira, Martin van Jaarsveld, Jacques Rudolph, New Zealand Test cricketers Neil Wagner and Kruger van Wyk, AB de Villiers, Marchant de Lange, Morne and Albie Morkel, Paul Harris, Faf du Plessis, CJ de Villiers and Zimbabwe’s Kyle Jarvis.

“Guys have come through this system that have such character and tremendous attitudes and I really believe in that sort of tradition. We’re very fortunate to have this environment at Tuks, there are excellent services and support and we have the structures, I believe, to take on the best in the world,” De Bruyn said.

And the results bear that out.

2014 will be remembered as another phenomenal year for the Tuks cricket team. They are the world champions in the only global university cricket competition – the Red Bull Campus Cricket Finals, they completed a hat-trick of titles in the Momentum National Club Championships (unbeaten through 18 games) and they have won the Northerns Premier League for the last five years.

De Bruyn, though, will be focused on ensuring his team improve even more.

“It’s a fast-moving environment and it’s tough. The players are training and competing with first-class cricketers day in and day out and the club is basically like a full-time high-performance programme for the Titans.

“If I’m one percent unprepared as a coach then it can cost a young player his dreams. I have to be very sharp as the coach and stay one step ahead otherwise it will cost the player,” De Bruyn said.

A coach with such high standards for himself will undoubtedly be inspirational for his charges and the success of the Tuks team bears this out.

 

 



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