for quality writing

Ken Borland



‘Lack of bonus points has hurt us’ – Nollis 0

Posted on June 29, 2016 by Ken

 

“The lack of bonus points is what has hurt us,” Bulls coach Nollis Marais said on Tuesday as he contemplated the three-point gap between them and the Sharks and the four extra points the Stormers have, deficits they now have three weeks to make up, starting with this weekend’s awkward trip to Buenos Aires to play the Jaguares .

The Bulls, Sharks and Stormers all won seven of their dozen matches in the first segment of SuperRugby, so Marais is spot on with his analysis.

“Not getting bonus points when we beat the Reds and Rebels is now a problem for us and we have to make sure we win our next three games, just to control our destiny a bit. But it doesn’t help if we now just allow ourselves to stagnate, we must definitely move forward in our intensity and in the way we want to play.

“We want to show our fight and we must go out and play an attacking brand of rugby. We definitely have that mindset. We can’t just maul sides, that’s not the way we want to play. We want to play more with the ball in certain areas, play a high-intensity game. The maul and set-pieces still play a big part, but we can’t just have that, we must also break the line,” Marais said.

The Bulls squad that will leave for Argentina on Wednesday has been rocked by injuries.

Flank Deon Stegmann, lock Grant Hattingh and wing Bjorn Basson have injured themselves in training, to add to the injuries picked up on international duty by prop Trevor Nyakane and lock RG Snyman.

The Bulls will also be led by Lappies Labuschagne because Springbok captain Adriaan Strauss is being given a rest as per the agreement with Saru.

“Nothing needs to be said by me, everyone knows what needs to be done and we’re all working towards the same goal. We’re in a good space, it’s a big game and one we really want to win. The past is in the past, but we can rectify the mistakes we made and we’re really fired up for the rest of the season. We’re really positive for what lies ahead,” Labuschagne said.

How do Saru best use Rassie Erasmus? 0

Posted on February 24, 2016 by Ken

 

An interesting new dynamic has emerged in the hunt for the new Springbok coach with Rassie Erasmus’s chances apparently now being hurt for the ironic reason that he could be too valuable for the South African Rugby Union (Saru) to lose in his current position of general manager of the rugby department.

Saru use Erasmus and his brilliant rugby brain to devise just about everything surrounding the professional game in South Africa, be it systems to successfully identify, develop and monitor players and coaches, the off-field logistics and planning required for high-performance teams, technical analysis, medical care and safety and even the referees.

There are some in Saru who are apparently acutely aware that the position of Springbok coach has been one in which talented men are used and abused and then discarded. To paraphrase The Doors: “Nobody gets outta here alive!”

It normally takes a few years of recovery (maybe it should be therapy!) before a former Springbok coach is rehabilitated enough to return to the frontlines of the game; Ian McIntosh has served as a national selector for several years, Nick Mallett is now a popular television pundit and Rudolf Straeuli is the CEO of the Golden Lions, but where are the seven other living coaches?

And so Saru are faced with something of a dilemma … are the skills of Erasmus more valuable and likely to be in service for longer if he stays behind the scenes in an “office job”? Obviously the former Springbok captain has the technical and tactical know-how to succeed as the national coach in what must be an interesting time of rebuilding and renewal.

But does he have the desire to handle the off-field pressures and demands of the job? The abuse of his family when things don’t go well, all the fronting up on television and to the media he will be expected to do, the long weeks away from home …

For a foreigner to take on the “poisoned chalice”, one would need to add to the above list of drawbacks being able to handle the internal politics of Saru, which are busy eating their CEO, Jurie Roux, alive, and the external politics of transformation demands. There is apparently also a recognition now within Saru that a foreigner would not be a wise choice for head coach given the peculiarities of the job in a South African context. A top-class overseas figure may yet get a call-up as a consultant or as a member of the back-up coaching staff.

A final decision on who the new Springbok coach is can only be made by a meeting of the General Council and their next scheduled gathering is for the AGM on April 1. Let’s hope a fool is not appointed.

Speaking of fools, there have been some misguided reports doing the rounds suggesting that Roux (not a fool) has somehow been “punished” by no longer being the man in charge of headhunting the new Springbok coach.

The fact of the matter is that the Elite Player Development Committee is, and has always been, in charge of the search for Heyneke Meyer’s successor, and this has been confirmed to me personally by Lions president Kevin de Klerk, who sits on that committee.

Once they come up with a potential candidate, then Roux will get involved in terms of negotiating the contract.

But the false reports stem from the same sources that clearly have an agenda to drive against the CEO, judging by the thoroughly unprofessional tweets they sent out during the SuperRugby launch on Thursday.

Objective journalism, now there’s a concept.

 

 

Past wounds add spice to ODI series v NZ 0

Posted on January 08, 2013 by Ken

One-day internationals between South Africa and New Zealand always seem to have added spice, mostly because on the odd occasion the Black Caps have managed to win, they have often been the key games that have hurt the Proteas the most.

Of the 55 ODIs the two countries have played against each other, South Africa have won 33 and New Zealand 18, with four no results.

World Cup matches have been particularly happy occasions for the Kiwis, starting back in 1992 when they played an ODI against South Africa for the first time, at Eden Park in Auckland.

Kepler Wessels’ team, fresh out of isolation, were pummelled by seven wickets with 15-and-a-half overs to spare as New Zealand brought a fresh approach to limited-overs cricket.

South Africa did win their 1996 World Cup meeting in Faisalabad, thanks to their superb fielding and a fiery half-century from Hansie Cronje, and swept to victory at Edgbaston in 1999 after a brilliant all-round display by Jacques Kallis.

But since then, the Black Caps have notched three successive World Cup wins, with the trouble starting in Johannesburg in 2003 when Stephen Fleming’s great 134* powered New Zealand to victory and overshadowed Herschelle Gibbs’s wonderful 143, leaving the hosts on the brink of elimination and giving the visitors their first ODI win in South Africa.

New Zealand also took the spoils on the tropical island of Grenada, just off South America, in the 2007 World Cup, winning by five wickets to clinch a semi-final berth.

The 2011 World Cup defeat in Dhaka was perhaps the saddest of the lot because South Africa were riding high, their form steadily growing as they reached the quarterfinals, before Jacob Oram brutally chopped them down on a deteriorating pitch.

It felt like the apocalypse but, to their credit, South Africa rebounded by whitewashing the Kiwis 3-0 in New Zealand less than a year later in their most recent ODI meeting.

Despite all the World Cup pain they have inflicted, it is clear New Zealand will be up against it in the three ODIs between January 19 and 25. They have limped their way to just two victories in 18 previous matches against South Africa here, but perhaps it will suit the tourists that the games will be played in the smaller venues of Paarl, Kimberley and Potchefstroom.

With Ross Taylor, his captaincy having been called into question, on sabbatical, New Zealand will rely heavily on new skipper Brendon McCullum to lead the batting, while there will also be a heavy load on the shoulders of 34-year-old all-rounder Oram.

The attack is also missing key experience with spinner Dan Vettori out injured, but there is potential aplenty in young seamers Tim Southee and Trent Boult, while veteran Kyle Mills usually enjoys conditions in South Africa.

The ODI series kicks off on Saturday a.m., January 19 in Paarl and South Africa will no doubt be eager to repay one of their arch-enemies for all that World Cup misery.

But it is clear the Proteas ODI squad is still a work in progress, with coach Gary Kirsten having an eye firmly on the next World Cup final at the end of March 2015, probably in either Sydney or Melbourne.

At the moment, there are places open in the team, with perhaps a third of the squad still not settled, but there is no reason to fear that. Kirsten and the selectors should have an amnesty from criticism as they sift through the potential talent and they will no doubt have plans to introduce some new faces in this series.

And, with Paarl, Kimberley and Potchefstroom renowned for being three of the driest places in the country, rain is unlikely to interfere with those plans!

 



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