for quality writing

Ken Borland



Sanzar’s SuperRugby Christmas present is likely to be meh 0

Posted on February 20, 2017 by Ken

 

Rugby fans who have had enough of the current fatigue-inducing set-up will be eagerly anticipating Christmas and the expected announcement by Sanzar of a new SuperRugby format from 2016. But what they find in their stocking might still leave them unimpressed because Sanzar are unlikely to go the most obvious route of two pools of nine, eight matches home and away and semi-finals and a final.

Because the Southern Kings had such a dramatic impact on rugby in the Eastern Cape, certainly in terms of crowd figures, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) seem to have accepted that they can no longer leave such a massive region out in the cold even though they lost the promotion/relegation series to the Lions. And Argentina, full Sanzar partners now, look set to be rewarded with a place in SuperRugby as well, expanding the competition to 17 teams. Judging by the noises coming out of New Zealand and Australia, some sort of Japanese involvement is also being strongly considered to make it an even 18.

But the same Australian demands that impacted so heavily on the previous broadcasting agreement, which brings in all the money and therefore decides the format, seem set to ensure common sense does not apply. In order to sustain the ailing code of rugby union in Australia, they want their own conference, even if they have to share it with some New Zealand teams.

So the three proposals that Sanzar are considering are to keep the status quo (yes, many stakeholders, most of them living on a big island, actually think the current format is great), to split into South African and Australasian conferences, or to expand the competition even more and include other Asian teams, and the USA and Canada as well.

It would appear the two-conference system has been most positively received by Saru, and hopefully their negotiators will show much more skill when Sanzar meet in Sydney next week than the muppets who negotiated the previous deal. That could mean six South African franchises, which play each other home and away, making 10 fixtures. If the Australasian conference is split into two pools, with Japan in one and Argentina in the other, then they, too, could play 10 round-robin matches. The idea is then for the top six or eight teams across the conferences to play in the finals. If six teams go through and play each other, that’s five more matches. A semi-final and a final would then mean a maximum of 17 games per team – much cleaner, much simpler and less of a slog than SuperRugby is at the moment for all concerned.

What is vital is that Sanzar consult the players, on whom they rely to sell their product. There is a strong suggestion that the current exodus of players from the southern hemisphere to Europe is not just because of the power of the euro, but also because they are on their last legs due to the unceasing intensity and quantity of rugby Sanzar has foisted on them.

Bulls captain Pierre Spies, one of many on the injured list after the prolonged SuperRugby campaign, is pegging his hopes on change. “I’d really like to see the competition end before the international season. That three-week break for the internationals in June is a waste. I’d like to see all the focus on SuperRugby, get that done with and then give all the teams three or four weeks to prepare for the Tests. We could then finish the Rugby Championship at the end of October and either go back to our franchises or prepare for the end-of-year tour. I’d prefer there to be one global schedule and to finish SuperRugby in one go. That would also give all the teams one extra bye,” Spies told Daily Maverick on Thursday.

There does seem to be growing agreement on the sense of having one global rugby season. The International Rugby Players’ Association has come out in favour of it and even Sanzar CEO Greg Peters has said it makes sense. “The idea of moving June to July, in a Sanzar context, certainly holds a lot of appeal, for a lot of reasons,” Peters told The Herald Sun. “We could complete the SuperRugby season without a break, which is something in an ideal world we would want to do. Then you would move straight into the international program, have a short break, the Rugby Championship, short break, and then the Spring Tours. We would certainly be interested in sitting down with the northern unions and getting their views about whether it would work. And obviously we are interested in the views of the players’ associations as well.”

The Currie Cup Premier Division also looks set to change, with a new eight team format apparently agreed to in principle by the Saru executive committee, just two years after they went to great lengths to justify a cut to six teams. The phrase “political expediency” immediately springs to mind, but the thought of the Kings and the Pumas, who have dominated the First Division in recent times and are based in the rapidly-growing centre of Nelspruit, competing at the top table does have appeal.

The administrators sit in the boardrooms and make the decisions over lavish lunches, changing tune according to their own vested interests, but it is the players who have to go out, put their bodies on the line, and make these formats work.

“I’ve only been playing SuperRugby for six years and I’m struggling to get on the field now,” says Springbok star Francois Steyn, who has been out of action since May after two operations for compartment syndrome in the leg – an over-use injury.

“In South African rugby, we all worry about saying something wrong and stepping on someone’s toes, so I should probably keep my mouth shut. But it’s all about bringing the fans out and less rugby is probably better. Then the top players can play for longer. At this rate, if you play for 10 years, you’re a lucky guy.”

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-08-30-quo-vadis-superrugby/#.WKrl_2997IU

Deysel recovers quicker than expected & will lead Sharks 0

Posted on May 31, 2016 by Ken

 

Loose forward Jean Deysel will be leading the Sharks out into battle against the Western Force in their SuperRugby match in Durban on Saturday, the Springbok having made a quicker than expected recovery from an ankle injury.

Although Francois Steyn will be playing – and replaces the resting Pat Lambie at flyhalf – because Sanzar’s appeal against his exoneration on a tip-tackle charge will now only take place on Tuesday, coach Gary Gold felt the captaincy would just be an additional burden on a player who has had a troubled start to the season.

Deysel will be no stranger to the captaincy, having captained the Sharks in numerous Currie Cup games as well as in some SuperRugby encounters.

“The captaincy was an interesting debate, and if Jean hadn’t come through well this week we would have gone with Marco Wentzel as our captain. The other guys in the mix were Frans Steyn and Ryan Kankowski. I am sure Frans will lead the side again at some stage soon, but given the controversy around him this week we felt it was the wrong time to shoulder him with the extra burden of captaincy,” Gold said.

There was advance notification of Lambie, scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and flank Marcell Coetzee being rested this weekend and their replacements are Steyn, who will bring just as much presence to the number 10 jersey, Conrad Hoffman and Deysel.

The powerful Andre Esterhuizen comes in for Steyn at inside centre.

Deysel will be playing blindside flank with Renaldo Bothma shifting to openside.

With so many first-choice players out, the back-up players now have the chance to state their worth.

“Having to make so many changes is challenging, there is no doubt about that, but at the same time it is exciting as we have a lot of depth to our squad and this is a chance for us to see what the players who might not usually get an opportunity do in a big game. This is a chance for us to look at our depth, to assess what we have available,” Gold said.

Team: 15-SP Marais, 14-Odwa Ndungane, 13-JP Pietersen, 12-Andre Esterhuizen, 11-Lwazi Mvovo, 10-Francois Steyn, 9-Conrad Hoffmann, 8-Ryan Kankowski, 7-Jean Deysel, 6-Renaldo Bothma, 5-Marco Wentzel, 4-Mouritz Botha, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Kyle Cooper, 1-Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements – 16-Monde Hadebe, 17-Thomas du Toit, 18-Lourens Adriaanse, 19-Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20-Daniel du Preez, 21-Stefan Ungerer, 22-Fred Zeilinga, 23-Waylon Murray.

Interesting times for Sunshine Tour event organisers 0

Posted on November 17, 2014 by Ken

These have been interesting times for the organisers of the co-sanctioned events that highlight the summer golf season in South Africa, but the Sunshine Tour is expected to release details of at least the first half of the lucrative schedule this week.

The delay has mainly been due to the uncertainty of when to stage the South African Open, the flagship event of the summer and one for which the Sunshine Tour recently regained the commercial rights.

Unfortunately, the European Tour shifted their Volvo World Matchplay Championship from May to this week in the schedule, pushing their Tour Championship out to November 20-23, the week which had been used by the SA Open in recent years.

In what they described as “a shift in golf sponsorship strategy to focus on customers”, this will be the last time Volvo sponsor the famous matchplay event and they have also pulled the plug on the European Tour’s tournament of winners, the Volvo Golf Champions, which has been hosted by South Africa for the last three years.

While the loss of a high-profile European Tour event like that is obviously a great pity, it has left a gap in the schedule that could well now be filled by the SA Open.

January 8-11, 2015, is now the likely date of the SA Open and the talk amongst the pros is that Glendower Golf Club will once again host the prestigious event, for which big developments are expected in the near future.

The Sunshine Tour could lose another co-sanctioned event with the Nelson Mandela Championship in doubt due to both sponsorship and scheduling issues, taking the number of European Tour events in South Africa this summer down to six.

The Nedbank Golf Challenge will continue its strong new relationship with the European Tour from December 4-7 at Sun City, with the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek being held the following week.

Insiders say the Joburg, Africa and Tshwane Opens should all take place next year, although scheduling challenges do exist.

If the Nelson Mandela Championship does get the go-ahead, it could be staged at the Wild Coast Sun, moving from Durban, according to the professionals.

 



↑ Top