for quality writing

Ken Borland



I know a week is a long time in sport, but … 0

Posted on March 20, 2017 by Ken

 

I’ve always known that a week can be a long time in the world of sport, but I go away for eight nights to the bush of northern Limpopo and return to find rugby’s entire landscape changing with indecent haste compared to the months of feet-dragging that often characterise a game that has been presided over at some stages by dinosaurs or the old farts of the straw-chair brigade.

One of the changes I saw coming before my departure. I always love unintended consequences and it was former Springboks and Bulls defence coach John McFarland who pointed out to me that the rulemakers’ new emphasis on keeping tackles lower, away from the head and shoulders, was at least partly responsible for the sudden rash of offloads we have seen from the South African teams, who have traditionally preferred taking contact and winning some hard-earned, psychologically-meaningful centimetres.

So it’s not just a mindset change amongst our franchise coaches and players, but also that tacklers are now being forced down below the arms, allowing the hands to be free to keep the ball alive.

Time will tell whether that more skilful approach is carried through to the Springboks, but the national team has already had better preparation than last year with a camp and they look better resourced too in terms of coaching staff.

One of those additional resources is Cheetahs coach Franco Smith and it may be just as well that he has earned a promotion because he might be out of a decent Super Rugby job next year. If we believe what the New Zealand media tell us, then the Cheetahs as well as the Southern Kings will be axed from Super Rugby under the new, hopefully improved format for 2018 that is yet to be unveiled.

Harold Verster, the CEO of the Cheetahs, cheerfully told the world though that he keeps his “ear to the ground” and that the rumbling noise he hears is not a rampaging stampede of buffalo at all, but the sound of the Grey College-Free State-somewhere else in the country pipeline running smoothly. He says the Cheetahs are safe.

You cannot be nearly as optimistic about the Kings, however. They would seem to be sitting ducks as not only are they struggling on the field but they are a financial drain on the South African Rugby Union and money always shouts loudest when it comes to administrators, like politicians.

Speaking of politicians, you cannot escape the irony that Cheeky Watson, the self-proclaimed messiah of transformation, has now left Eastern Cape rugby and has done more damage to the nursery of Black rugby in our country than anything since a Nationalist government functionary.

If you called him a blood-sucking tick you would probably be understating his effect. The man has been a full-blown parasite on the game in that vulnerable region, more like the deadly malaria protozoans that kill half-a-million people a year in sub-Saharan Africa.

Later this year, the British and Irish Lions tour New Zealand in what should be the rugby highlight of 2017, but this type of proper tour probably won’t become more common given the news this week that a new global rugby calendar is being introduced. Coming into effect in 2020, it has reducing player workload as one of its main tenets.

Tours by northern hemisphere teams to the southern hemisphere will be pushed back to July, but this will allow Super Rugby to be completed in one fell swoop from February to June. This is a good thing and will come into effect in 2019, because that is a World Cup year.

The 2023 World Cup is another story of course, with South Africa seemingly ranged against France and Ireland for the right to host the tournament. If you can believe what came out of sports minister Fikile Mbalula’s mouth this week, then government is now backing the bid.

Then again, Mbalula might just have been trying to distract from the fiasco that was Durban’s Commonwealth Games bid. The chairman of that bid was Mark Alexander, the president of the South African Rugby Union, but that’s a story for another day.

No super over calls integrity of entire RamSlam T20 Challenge into question 0

Posted on January 01, 2015 by Ken

The integrity of the entire RamSlam T20 Challenge competition was called into question at SuperSport Park yesterday when the Unlimited Titans and the Chevrolet Warriors tied their rain-affected match, but were denied the chance to play for full points in a super over due to the shortcomings of the playing conditions.

The fact that both teams have to settle for two points is obviously unsatisfactory when one considers their precarious positions at the bottom of the log and the fact that all other tied matches in the competition have had super overs in order for one team to get the four win points. Neither team were aware that there would not be a tie-breaker.

Match referee Barry Lambson confirmed that the playing conditions did not allow for a super over to be played “due to time constraints” as the start of the match was delayed by two-and-a-half hours because of rain. This time, the all-pervasive influence of television was not to blame as they found time for a televised presentation after a string of advertisements.

The chances of playing at all looked remote at the scheduled starting time of 12pm, but by the end of the match the weather had totally cleared up, although metaphorically a cloud will remain over the game.

The eight-overs-a-side match featured perfect final overs by both Rusty Theron and David Wiese.

Wiese’s was the more impressive because it secured the tie for the Titans after they had unravelled in the field in the sixth and seventh overs, leaving the Warriors with just six runs to win off the last six balls.

Wiese made the perfect start by removing Simon Harmer (24 off 13) off the first ball and Jon-Jon Smuts, who had anchored the chase with 37 off 22 balls, was then run out off the second ball after confusion with Yaseen Vallie and a pinpoint throw from the outfield by Eden Links.

Vallie and Theron could only manage three singles, plus there was a wide, leaving the Warriors to score one run off the last ball to win. But with wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen standing up and making a fine take, Wiese beat Theron outside off stump to snatch a share of the spoils for the Titans.

The Titans had posted 79 for five in their eight overs after being sent in to bat, and looked well on course to defend that when they restricted the Warriors to 39 for three after five overs. But a host of errors in the sixth and seventh overs, including Harmer being dropped as Shaun von Berg and Theunis de Bruyn collided in the covers, changed the course of the match.

Captain Darren Sammy also contributed a fine over, conceding eight that included an edged boundary, Ethy Mbhalati again bowled skilfully and Junior Dala delivered a brilliant first over, that cost just one run and included the wicket of Warriors captain Colin Ingram (4).

Henry Davids had given the Titans innings a positive start as he scored 23 off 11 balls, hammering three fours and a six off Basheer Walters in the second over before the bowler had the last say, having him caught in the covers.

But the Titans run-rate then nose-dived as Aya Gqamane, brought on to bowl the fifth over, removed Wiese (1) and De Bruyn (16) with his first two balls and spinner Smuts was bang on target as well.

Theron conceded just four runs in the last over and trapped Sammy lbw for 16 as he showed the sort of skills that suggest he perhaps should be performing again on a higher stage.

 

  • 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