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Ken Borland



Meyer in the mood for a big victory 0

Posted on December 15, 2015 by Ken

 

Although the Springboks trounced Italy convincingly, Scotland has traditionally not been an easy opponent to destroy. Heyneke Meyer’s reluctance to add to the 852 players in the index of South Africa’s capped internationals for Saturday’s Test against a depleted Scottish side has many people baffled, but the Springbok coach perhaps let slip his motivation with a throwaway line during the team announcement.

“Our past results against Scotland are nothing to be proud of,” he said in midweek.

He obviously meant results in the recent past because Meyer would have grown up hearing stories of how the Springboks set the world record score against Scotland in Edinburgh in 1951 when they walloped them 44-0. Tries were only worth three points back then, so South Africa’s tally of nine, plus seven conversions from Okey Geffin and a drop goal from Hannes Brewis would have been equivalent to a 62-0 drubbing in today’s terms.

But since 2002, the Springboks have struggled to really put the Scots away. They lost 21-6 that year in Edinburgh and again 21-17 in 2010, but even their victories, with a couple of exceptions, have not been by much – 29-25 (Durban, 2003); 28-19 (Johannesburg, 2003); 45-10 (Edinburgh 2004); 36-16 (Durban, 2006); 29-15 (Port Elizabeth, 2006); 27-3 (Edinburgh, 2007); 14-10 (Edinburgh, 2008) and 21-10 (Edinburgh 2012).

So Meyer is clearly hoping for something more along the lines of 62-0 as he calls into service the bulk of the team that put Italy away in impressive fashion last weekend.

With South Africa set to play Scotland in a potential pool decider in their own conditions in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Meyer will also be keen on scoring some psychological points through a big victory.

With another week of training together hopefully providing even more continuity, and those first Test nerves a thing of the past for a handful of players, Meyer is confident that the Springboks will build on their King’s Park performance when they play the first Test to be hosted by the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

And the home side certainly has numerous weapons with which to really hurt the Scots.

Bryan Habana won the Man of the Match award for his dazzling display of pacy counter-attacking and new Scotland flyhalf Ruaridh Jackson and debutant fullback Peter Murchie are warned that aimless kicking will be punished.

Saturday also provides another opportunity for Willie le Roux and JJ Engelbrecht to shine, while if left wing Bjorn Basson continues to look for work, he could well add to his maiden Test try last weekend.

Scotland suffered a terrible injury toll after their loss to the physical Samoans. Coach Scott Johnson said he was “hard-pressed to remember so many injuries from the one Test match” – and unfortunately for them they can expect more of the same from the Springboks.

The loose trio of Pierre Spies, Arno Botha and Marcell Coetzee are renowned for their physicality, as is lock Eben Etzebeth, while Meyer can turn to the likes of Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe and, of course, Bismarck du Plessis, for even more punching power off the bench.

The ferocious Du Plessis is likely to only be on the field for a short period, but Scotland could well learn the meaning of vasbyt in that time.

“I’ve never been out this long before, I’ve missed six Sharks games in eight years before the knee operation, so frustration doesn’t even come close to describing the feeling. Even if you miss one game, you can never get it back again and even if I just get one minute on Saturday, I’m going to try and fit 80 minutes of rugby into it,” Du Plessis vowed this week.

Siya Kolisi, who at 1.86m is shorter than the loose forwards Meyer usually favours, is another who should get a stint off the bench and the debutant will want to make his presence count at the breakdowns.

Meyer has identified the breakdowns as one of the key areas he is looking to improve in the second year of his term and, with Francois Louw the first-choice open-side flank, Kolisi will want to make the most of his chance while the Bath man is away getting married this weekend.

The scrums are another area where the Springboks can improve, but in the unlikely event of Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira struggling, Meyer does have the insurance of in-form Cheetahs props Oosthuizen and Trevor Nyakane on the bench.

Scotland will have an experienced tighthead in British Lions tourist Euan Murray to test the Springbok scrum, but the visitors will be hard-pressed to match the lineout skills of the hosts.

The fact that an already depleted Scotland team have now been battered and bruised to such an extent that coach Johnson had to make seven more changes, does not inspire much confidence that they can upset a Springbok team that has their coach calling for blood.

“We still have to put in the hard work against Scotland. It’s like SuperRugby, any team can beat you on their day. We played some great rugby last weekend, but we’re still far from our best. We still need to improve and for us it’s about putting in 100%, 100% of the time,” Meyer said.

For the Springboks to slacken now would totally expose their coach’s about-turn on using this quadrangular series to try a bunch of players.

With a Nelspruit crowd eager to see the Springboks in action for the first time in their city, we can surely expect the Springboks to improve further on their start to the season in Durban by putting Scotland to the sword.

Teams

South Africa – Willie le Roux; Bryan Habana, JJ Engelbrecht, Jean de Villiers, Bjorn Basson; Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar; Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee; Juandre Kruger, Eben Etzebeth; Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Siya Kolisi, Piet van Zyl, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein.

Scotland – Peter Murchie; Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Matt Scott, Sean Lamont; Ruaridh Jackson, Greig Laidlaw; Johnnie Beattie, Ryan Wilson, Alasdair Strokosch; Jim Hamilton, Tim Swinson; Euan Murray, Scott Lawson, Alasdair Dickinson. Replacements: Steven Lawrie, Jon Welsh, Moray Low, Alastair Kellock, David Denton, Henry Pyrgos, Peter Horne, Duncan Taylor.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-06-14-springboks-vs-scotland-meyer-hoping-for-repeat-performance/#.VnAFHEp97IU

Foreigner coach idea not discounted by Saru, but Coetzee still favourite 0

Posted on December 05, 2015 by Ken

 

The idea that a foreigner could succeed Heyneke Meyer as the coach of the Springboks was not discounted by South African Rugby Union (Saru) president Oregan Hoskins on Friday, but a strengthened emphasis on transformation means Allister Coetzee surely remains the hot favourite to take over the poisoned chalice.

Meyer’s dignified exit from the role means Saru have a week in which to hunt down his successor and, with former Stormers coach Coetzee and current Lions mastermind Johan Ackermann the only realistic local candidates, speculation has been rife that the Springboks might have their first overseas coach.

“Yes, a foreigner is an option. We shouldn’t rule out anyone because we want best for South Africa, so we have to consider all the possibilities. There were 13 foreign coaches in charge at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, that’s the way things are going in rugby,” Hoskins said at Saru House in Cape Town on Friday as he addressed media about the Springbok coaching position.

John Plumtree and John Mitchell are the leading candidates in terms of overseas-born coaches, with both of them having led South African franchises in SuperRugby.

But Mitchell is likely to have a long list of demands – such as a four-year contract and being able to choose his own support team – which has been a sticking point in his negotiations to take over the Stormers coaching role.

Plumtree coached the Sharks for four years from 2008, winning two Currie Cup titles but generally under-performing in SuperRugby. Following his dismissal by the Sharks, the New Zealander became the Ireland forwards coach, before joining the successful Hurricanes side as an assistant in this year’s SuperRugby competition.

Former All Black Wayne Smith, a visonary attack coach for New Zealand’s 2011 and 2015 World Cup triumphs, has also been mentioned as a candidate but, like Mitchell and Plumtree, he would appear to be more likely to be involved as an assistant.

Coetzee, the backline coach in the Springboks’ 2007 World Cup win, has always been the favourite to succeed Meyer, having controversially lost out in 2008 when Peter de Villiers was appointed, but what has certainly caused his stock to rise were Hoskins’ comments that transformation would be a priority for the next coach of the national team.

“For the next four years, transformation will be key for us – we signed an agreement with Sascoc and the government. It has been Saru’s policy that the leadership doesn’t interfere in team selection, but we might have to look at that. It’s very difficult to have Saru interfering in team selection, but if policy is not implemented, then we would address that discreetly and find solutions. Anybody applying for Bok coach needs to know transformation is at the top of the agenda – otherwise don’t apply,” Hoskins said.

An overseas coach would probably struggle with the implementation of such transformation policy, while it is an area in which Coetzee, a former scrumhalf star in non-racial rugby, excelled during his time in Cape Town, while still guiding them to four appearances in the SuperRugby knockout phase as well as two Currie Cup titles.

Other favourites of the South African rugby public are Nick Mallett, who has however said he does not want to return to coaching, Robbie Deans, who, like Coetzee is currently coaching in Japan, and Ackermann.

The viewpoint of those involved in making the decision, however, would seem to be that Ackermann needs to gain more experience and win trophies with the Lions over the next four years.

Coetzee as head coach with a high-profile overseas assistant, and the involvement of Saru rugby general manager Rassie Erasmus, would appear to be what the governing body are currently angling for ahead of the expected announcement of the new Springbok management next Friday.

 

 

Meyer shows flexibility & daring despite dark injury cloud 0

Posted on November 06, 2015 by Ken

 

For all the talk of a dark injury cloud hanging over South African rugby, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has still been able to name a squad full of exciting young talent for the quadrangular series that starts next weekend against Italy, Scotland and Samoa.

Saturday night might be all right for fighting, but Meyer’s announcement of his new 34-man squad at Newlands was met with far less criticism than much of what he did last year.

Perhaps it’s because Meyer has shown a flexibility and daring that did not seem to be part of his character during his safety-first initial year in charge.

The most obvious sign of this is the selection of Willie le Roux, the ultimate anti-structure player, someone who wears an 11 on his back for the Cheetahs but roams all over the field.

Le Roux is the epitome of the rugby gambler, he’s always looking first for the opportunity to try something attacking, and kicking, although a skill of his, is definitely a last-ditch option.

While Meyer has grasped the nettle and chosen the man who is the Cheetahs’ creative force, he seems a little nervous about what he might have unleashed upon his carefully structured team and admitted that he has had discussions with Le Roux about playing the percentages better.

“I had a great chat with Willie at the training camp. He brings the X-factor that you need at times, but there’s a fine line in Test rugby. You can bring the X-factor but you mustn’t give up tries because there’s an average difference of one try per game in Tests,” Meyer said.

The uncapped Le Roux is likely to be used at fullback, where Meyer’s resources have been plundered by injuries to JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn, Jaco Taute and Zane Kirchner, who is in the squad but unlikely to play until the final match.

“I’m going to look at playing Willie at 15, I love it when a fullback comes in behind the flyhalf like he does for the Cheetahs. We want to improve on attack and score more tries.

“I was very worried about fullback, but now we have options and I will definitely consider Pat Lambie and Gio Aplon there as well,” Meyer said.

Le Roux has skills that are normally seen only once in a blue moon on a rugby field, so even if Meyer involves him off the bench, he is going to bring a different dimension, and most notably more vision, to the Springbok backline.

It is pleasing as well to see some fresh blood introduced into the loose forward stocks in the form of Lappies Labuschagne and Siya Kolisi, both of whom have had major impacts in SuperRugby, for the Cheetahs and Stormers respectively.

While it is highly likely Francois Louw, Willem Alberts and Pierre Spies will form the starting loose trio, it is also probable that one of the uncapped trio of Labuschagne, Kolisi or Arno Botha will win a place on the bench alongside Marcell Coetzee.

The presence of utility backs such as Ruan Pienaar, Le Roux, JJ Engelbrecht, Lambie and Francois Hougaard in the squad means Meyer should be able to use a 6-2 split on the bench, with an entire front row now required due to the new IRB regulations.

It will be a daunting task for any team to front up to the big hits that Coenie Oosthuizen, Adriaan Strauss, Eben Etzebeth, Alberts, Spies, Tendai Mtawarira, Flip van der Merwe, Coetzee, Labuschagne, Kolisi and Botha routinely dish up. It is also what the Bulls have based their game plan on, and they are the in-form team in SuperRugby at the moment.

Saturday night’s squad announcement also tees up centre Jan Serfontein, loosehead prop Trevor Nyakane, scrumhalf Jano Vermaak, lock Pieter-Steph du Toit and tighthead prop Lourens Adriaanse for a Test debut over the next three weeks.

Jean de Villiers has been confirmed as the captain so he will either play at number 12 or number 13. If he plays at 13 – and the only other options are Engelbrecht and Juan de Jongh, who is still recovering from injury – then Serfontein is a shoe-in at inside centre.

He may only be 20 years old, but Serfontein has already stamped his presence in the Bulls’ midfield and he is a powerful, as well as dynamic, attacking force.

Meyer said he was delighted to be able to pick such talented youngsters.

“A lot of great, experienced Springboks are not in the squad, but I’m very happy to be able to pick these youngsters after very good SuperRugby form. We have to give players chances so that we prepare for the Rugby Championship, but still pick our best side for every Test. It’s about winning and being humble and not underestimating the opposition. But a couple of these youngsters deserve a start,” Meyer said.

Meyer said he had chosen an expanded squad of 34 players in order to prepare for the Rugby Championship against Southern Hemisphere rivals New Zealand, Australia and Argentina, which explains the presence of Bismarck du Plessis, De Jongh and Kirchner, all of whom have played next to no rugby in recent weeks and can’t realistically be expected to come straight back at Test level.
The Springbok coach said he aimed to back experience while still giving youth its head.

“This series is part of our preparation for the Rugby Championship, so I won’t be picking a different side every week. There will be new caps and it is a very young squad. But I also need to give players lots of Tests so they can reach 30 or 40 by the World Cup, so it’s a catch-22.

“I’ll probably go with experience to start, but with youngsters coming off the bench. I am loyal to performance and we’re going to have some great players in future,” Meyer said.

And he can say that again.

Squad: Willie le Roux, Gio Aplon, Zane Kirchner, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers, JJ Engelbrecht, Juan de Jongh, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Lwazi Mvovo, Morné Steyn, Pat Lambie, Ruan Pienaar, Francois Hougaard, Jano Vermaak, Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Willem Alberts, Lappies Labuschagné, Francois Louw, Marcell Coetzee, Siya Kolisi, Juandré Kruger, Eben Etzebeth, Flip van der Merwe, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jannie du Plessis, Lourens Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Bismarck du Plessis, Coenie Oosthuizen, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-06-03-springbok-squad-safety-first-meyer-shows-flexibility-daring/#.VkCHoLcrLIU

My question for Heyneke Meyer 0

Posted on November 06, 2015 by Ken

 

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer returns to South Africa this morning and will face the press after a disappointing end to their World Cup campaign; my question to him would be “Why do you think you deserve to continue in your post, what progress has been made over the last four years?”

In my opinion, there has been no real progress. There is no meaningful silverware to show, the good results have been cancelled out by some truly awful results, a world ranking of three is nothing to shout about, and, as clearly shown in the dour win over Argentina in the third-place playoff, Meyer cannot even say the game plan has evolved under his watch. And he continues to cause outrage when it comes to transformation – his treatment of Rudi Paige, Lwazi Mvovo and Siya Kolisi showing that he just doesn’t get it when it comes to that vital issue.

Meyer is an honourable man, as passionate as anyone when it comes to Springbok rugby, and he says he wants to be part of the solution that will fix the problems. But in my eyes he is part of the problem; his emotional excesses and fear of losing rub off on the team. The Springboks have not shown the ability to adapt to what is happening on the field, they are too stuck in a rigid game plan.

Watching New Zealand deservedly win the World Cup final clearly showed the direction the Springboks should be going. The All Blacks are peerless when it comes to vision and adaptability on the rugby field and it was surely destiny that Dan Carter would be man of the match in winning the World Cup final.

Meyer seemed to be heading in the right direction in 2013 and 2014 when he tried a more up-tempo, ball-in-hand approach; two epic Tests against the All Blacks resulted and Ellis Park was sold out as she hosted two of the best games of rugby I have witnessed.

But the coach failed to build on those performances, losing his nerve in this World Cup year and retreating back into a conservative, unambitious game plan that was easy to counter. Losing to Japan was bad enough, but the Springboks had the added ignominy of being called “anti-rugby” and being as boring as Argentina were when they first joined the Rugby Championship in 2012.

The fact that his team struggled to beat an Argentina side missing nine first-choice players last weekend rams home that Meyer has not added anything to the Springboks. Replacing him at the helm of a team that clearly needs renewing, especially in terms of strategy, is the only sensible option because Meyer has shown that he cannot take the team forward.

On a positive note, a big high-five to the England Rugby Union for hosting a top-class World Cup. A pleasing feature of the tournament was the improvement shown by the minnows: apart from Japan’s incredible heroics, there were also no massive hidings as rugby showed it is a truly global game.

Even the referees, who are under the harshest lens, stepped up and, barring one or two mishaps, the officiating was of a high standard, helped by a greater reliance on the TMO.

 

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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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