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Ken Borland

SA Rugby had to listen to stakeholders’ bark or face the bite – Roux 0

Posted on May 01, 2017 by Ken


According to Saru CEO Jurie Roux, South African rugby had to listen to the bark coming from broadcasters and all other stakeholders in the game and cut the number of SuperRugby franchises or face the bite of economic hardship and potential disaster further down the road.

Roux was speaking on Monday at the launch of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge, the new tournament that will slot in at the level below SuperRugby, following Sanzaar’s announcement at the weekend that South Africa will only be able to field four teams from next year.

“Our stakeholders – sponsors, fans, broadcasters and media – have been speaking very clearly about the lack of integrity in the competition because not everyone plays everyone else, and the confusing format of SuperRugby. Broadcasters wanted change to come immediately otherwise they warned us we were going to run into contracting issues.

“And the economic reality is that we cannot sustain six franchises, we can survive with five but then we’d have to sacrifice other things, and neither can we sustain it from the player point of view either. So it’s high time that tough decisions were made for the good of South African rugby, that’s what the staff are paid for and the office bearers are elected for.

“Ultimately it’s a numbers decision, the numbers of spectators and viewers are in decline and there’s obviously an issue with what stadiums are providing as well. Plus half our franchises lose more matches than they win, so they’re not providing quality competition,” Roux said at the Bill Jardine Stadium on Monday.

The CEO said politics and emotion had governed the previous decision to expand to six franchises, but he hopes the newly formed franchise committee, and the Saru general council that will ultimately consider their proposal, lays those factors aside when they consider which two franchises should be cut from Super Rugby.

“The ultimate competition was probably Super 12, but there was some selfishness, some mandates from country’s high-performance units and a lot of revenue and political factors that led to the expansion. The reality is that there will always be some politics involved, but emotions are tougher to manage and I’m sad to say a lot of rugby decisions have been based on them.

“My plea to the franchise committee is to make a swift recommendation, not based on politics or emotion, so that nobody can accuse us of stalling. I will push as hard as I can to have this decision made as quickly as possible, at most within a month’s time,” Roux said.

The CEO suggested another four professional franchises could play as a group in other overseas tournaments, while adding that the 14 provincial unions had to continue as semi-professional entities looking after the broad base of the South African rugby pyramid – the amateur and school teams.

John McFarland Column: Boks are in a dark space & I know how that feels 0

Posted on November 23, 2016 by Ken


It was obviously a big shock for the Springboks to have lost to Italy at the weekend and everybody involved will feel that they have let the country down. But it’s now about going forward and getting things right for this weekend’s game against Wales.

The key is the coach, the wolf pack follows the pace of the leader and if he’s energised and shows how hard he wants to fight, then the rest will follow.

The nice thing about sport is that you get the chance to turn things around the next week and a good win against Wales will maybe show that the players have settled in better into the new game-plan.

In any coach’s life, they will go through a crisis, they will have a bad loss, because nobody wins 100% of the time. Every coach has their time under pressure, even the best coaches – for example Jose’ Mourinho at Chelsea or Eddie Jones at the Reds.

They’ve got to know what to do and how to put it right the following week.

In my time with the Springboks, I was part of the squad that lost to Japan at the World Cup. That was also a big blow to all our careers and I remember the day itself very well.

During the week everyone was filled with euphoria, we had landed in London, had the World Cup welcome, and we were really over-confident.

Japan certainly deserved their win, as did Italy last weekend.

On that Saturday evening in Brighton, it felt like being in a dark hole, certainly the players were feeling that. We had a very short meeting, some of the senior guys stood up and said it wasn’t good enough and we had to make sure we came back. We were still in the World Cup, so we were lucky that we had the chance to turn it around.

When you lose like that, everyone goes in different directions, especially when it’s the national team. Nobody looks anyone in the eyes, everyone feels a huge responsibility for their role in the disaster.

As part of the coaching staff, you pore through the video, looking at what was good and what was bad, preparing yourself for a really critical review of exactly what went wrong and how to better it. You deal with the team and also individuals in one-on-one situations.

After that game we had a long trip to Birmingham, five hours on a bus, and not one word was spoken. We stopped for lunch and there was still very little chat.

We kept the physical routine the same that week, but we made some key changes in other areas of our schedule.

On the Monday morning the players had their usual gym and recovery sessions, but then instead of a review of the game, we had an inquest. Every player got up and took responsibility for their part in the defeat, and said what they were going to get right and bring to the table for the next weekend.

Believe me, tears were shed because it’s pretty galling that the game you played with such joy as a child can put you in such a dark space.

Responsibility was taken by the whole group. Heyneke Meyer stood at the front and said this is the way we are going to do it from now on.

With all that cleaned out of the way, I remember there was a new focus from the players, everyone made a tremendous shift. Jean de Villiers led from the front, he said we will fix this, we will put it right, as did all the senior players. Training was very physical and intense that week as you’d expect from a wounded Springbok team.

Then they put on a real performance of pride and passion in beating Samoa 46-6, allowing them zero tries as we absolutely smashed them backwards. Duane Vermeulen was only meant to play about 50 minutes, but he played the full 80 and put in a real shift at the coalface.

Unfortunately Jean de Villiers was injured in that match and had to return home, but we won all our games after losing to Japan and pushed the All Blacks to within two points in the World Cup semifinal, the difference being a Dan Carter drop goal and an overturned penalty.

We were all really proud at the fact that we had come back and pushed New Zealand really close, putting on a far better performance against them than Australia did in the final, and then we took the bronze medal from Argentina in convincing fashion.

Heyneke Meyer pulled the team together with his staff and senior players, the core group pushed the boat in the right direction. From the Monday after the Japan loss, we were one team and we knew that one more defeat would put us out of the World Cup.

Some of the squad have been involved in both defeats to Japan and Italy and hopefully they can turn it around now like they did in the World Cup.

It’s always a battle of the gainline against Wales, with Jamie Roberts, Alex Cuthbert and Dan Biggar, and the Springboks will need to be really defensively solid in the backs … and obviously take their opportunities much better than they did against Italy.



John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012-15, having 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.

Ludeke comfortable with where Bulls are 0

Posted on July 04, 2015 by Ken

The clock is rapidly ticking down to the start of the SuperRugby season for the Bulls, but coach Frans Ludeke is very comfortable with where his team are placed following two impressive warm-up victories over the Cheetahs and Saracens.

His charges impressed with the intensity and pace of their play in scoring three second-half tries in the 30-13 win over the Cheetahs in Polokwane and then running in six tries in the 39-26 victory over Saracens in London.

“We were able to work on certain areas in those games and they gave us exactly what we wanted to help us get our whole game into gear, plus the results went our way. I was impressed with how we protected our ball at the breakdown and our decision-making both on attack and defence,” Ludeke told The Citizen.

His post-mortem did, however, include an admission that the scrums still require work ahead of their SuperRugby opener against the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld next Saturday.

“The Saracens game was a great test, exactly what we wanted. They were good at the breakdown, scrums and mauls and we took a lot out of that game. I’m not worried about the scrummaging, there’s just a few small adjustments needed and we have the ability to do well there. But it’s going to be a huge contest in that area against the Stormers and the scrums will be a focus point next week,” Ludeke said.

His efforts in that regard are complicated by the absence of prop Marcel van der Merwe for three-to-four weeks due to a medial knee ligament injury, but lock Flip van der Merwe, out for two months with a torn pectoral muscle, is the only other first-choice player currently unavailable.

SuperRugby is going the way of American Football in terms of franchises having huge playing squads and Ludeke is delighted by the depth created by the way several youngsters performed in the two warm-up games.

Hanro Liebenberg looks to be the heir apparent to all the wonderful other loose forwards who have made their names at the Bulls, while fellow youngsters like Jacques du Plessis, Marvin Orie, Jamba Ulengo, Travis Ismaiel and Jesse Kriel all have airs of confidence about themselves too.

“It’s exciting to see that talent and credit to the recruitment team for getting those players to Loftus. The way those players reacted against very proper opposition, with several international players, creates good depth for us,” Ludeke said.

The Stormers, ever the bridesmaids and never the bride when it comes to SuperRugby, will come to Pretoria after a tumultuous build-up that has seen their squad hit by several injuries, the suspension of lock Gerbrandt Grobler for steroid use and the announcement that coach Allister Coetzee will be leaving Cape Town.

But the Bulls are taking nothing for granted.

“Next week is when the actual competition starts and we have to take the same energy and momentum into the game against the Stormers. We have to play with accuracy against them. Our first three games are at home, which is ideal, but it’s crucial that we make a good start,” Ludeke said.




Luke Donald looks to have a second wind 0

Posted on January 14, 2015 by Ken

Judging by his performance in the Nedbank Golf Challenge, former world number one Luke Donald is certainly on course for a second wind in his career that reached the pinnacle of world golf in 2011 but then stalled as he dropped down the rankings in 2013.

Having reached new heights three years ago when he became the first golfer to win both the European and PGA Tour moneylists in the same year, Donald has not won since November 2013 and missed out on selection for Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup team this year.

He changed coach in mid-2013 and although he has since split from Chad Cook and gone back to Pat Goss, Donald said yesterday that there was no second-guessing his decision.

“I changed coach because I felt my game was not going the way I wanted it to, in particular I didn’t feel I was a good enough driver of the ball to win a Major. But it’s tough to break 30 years of golfing DNA, I didn’t play very well and I struggled to see a change, so I went back to Pat. Change is hard, but it was a good decision to join Chad because it made me realise that sometimes what you have is good enough,” Donald said.

The Gary Player Country Club course, however, is not the sort of place where poor drivers of the ball prosper, and Donald showed that he has plenty of game in the second round, picking up a dazzling nine birdies and not dropping a single shot.

“Every tee shot here has danger and you really have to be switched on and play good, solid shots. I feel I’ve done that very well today,” Donald said.

Whether or not Donald is the winner on Sunday – it would be a tremendous way to celebrate his 37th birthday the same day – the Englishman feels he is getting back to being one of the best golfers in the world.

“Winning would give me a huge amount of confidence that I’m doing the right thing, but my main goal is just to keep moving forward, keep getting better. Sometimes we put the Majors on too much of a pedestal. I prefer to stick to smaller goals,” he said.

In coming through a couple of miserable years, Donald has also shown that he has the character within him to overcome the tough times that inevitably come in golf and he admitted a change in mindset had also been necessary for him to rebound.

“I’d never had big struggles before but I think I needed to adjust mentally. You expect your golf to be good and for that to make you happy on the course, but it’s the other way round.”

Once the most consistent golfer in the world, Donald has the short game to capitalise on the opportunities he creates from tee to green and the old solidity is definitely returning.


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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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