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Ken Borland

Time for the Cape Cobras to learn to ‘tai’ 0

Posted on December 18, 2017 by Ken


The Kalenjin tribe of Kenya’s Rift Valley are famous for their dominance of long-distance running, numerous world and Olympic champions having come from their population of about five million, a staggering statistical anomaly that has had sports scientists scrambling to study them.

While scientists have pointed to a complex interaction between genetic and socio-economic factors for their success, the Kalenjin runners are also famous for their stoicism and endurance. It is that combined with natural abilities, that makes them world-beaters. They use the word ‘tai’ as an exhortation to keep going forward and they certainly do just that.

Much of the work on the persevering, “no gain without pain” Kalenjin has been done at the University of Cape Town and perhaps the cricket fraternity based in the city that enjoys the best standard of living in the country needs to go and study up on key traits for sporting success like determination and not blaming your failures on your opposition.

The RamSlam T20 Challenge final takes place on Saturday in Centurion and some of the Cape Cobras management and media seem to believe that they are not there due to some incredible conspiracy that involves the Titans and the weather conspiring against them. Never mind the fact that the star-studded Cobras team did not win their first three games and then threw away a winning position in their last round-robin match, where victory would have seen them hosting the semi-final against the Dolphins that was washed out on Thursday evening in Durban.

As the 2019 World Cup nears and the mental fortitude of our players is once again put under the most ruthless of microscopes, it is alarming that many of our Proteas are playing in an environment where excuse-making, blaming others and even accusing other teams of matchfixing is encouraged.

The Titans, by topping the log by miles, earned the right to prepare for their semi-final in whatever manner they saw fit, and they decided to spare their leading players the exertions of travelling to Cape Town to play on Friday, then to Durban to play on Sunday and then returning to Centurion on Monday, leaving just one day to prepare for the knockout match.

Such are the rewards for performance and they should be praised for the high standards they have brought to the competition, not tainted by slanderous allegations in the Cape that they were involved in some sort of matchfixing.

Instead of trying to bring everyone down to their under-performing standards, the Cobras, who have a wealth of talent at their disposal, should rather be focused on bridging the gap between themselves and the Titans.

In keeping with the sore-losers image they are cultivating so well in Cape Town, some of their media were quick to jump all over the Titans for only fielding five players of colour in their semi-final win over the Warriors, due to Henry Davids mangling his knee shortly before the toss.

The word from Cricket South Africa is that there will be no action taken against the Titans because the move was cleared by the head of their transformation committee, Max Jordaan, beforehand. It was a common sense decision because four minutes before the toss is hardly the time to rush someone in from outside the squad, without a warm-up.

There was no complaint from the Warriors, either, but there will always be that element in the Western Cape that knows better, watching from their vantage point behind the Mountain.

It seems there will always be the haters in South African sport when a team enjoys prolonged success.

Namibia’s tears of sadness turn into tears of joy 0

Posted on November 08, 2014 by Ken

At 3pm on June 28 in the Madagascan capital of Antananarivo, Namibia looked set to cry tears of sadness as a shock 29-22 defeat at the hands of Kenya left their hopes of qualifying for the 2015 World Cup hanging by the slimmest of threads.

By 5pm on July 6, at the same Mahamasina Stadium, the Namibian rugby team were crying tears of joy as an extraordinary 89-10 victory over the hosts had booked their spot in England 2015 on points difference over Zimbabwe and Kenya.

Following that opening-day loss, just their second against the East Africans since 2006, results had fallen Namibia’s way to keep their hopes alive. The Welwitschias beat Zimbabwe 24-20 to stay in contention, while their fellow Southern Africans did them a favour by overcoming Kenya 28-10 on the final day.

Crucially, neither Zimbabwe nor Kenya managed to get a bonus point in that match, which left Namibia needing to beat Madagascar by 53 points to qualify for the finals of the global showpiece.

“We were down in the dumps up to the last day, but we just believed until the very end. We had the will to keep on fighting until our last breath, until all 15 of us had to be carried off the field if necessary,” flank Tinus du Plessis said after the triumph.

“We had a massive points difference to work on, so we just planned to take it 10 minutes at a time. It’s amazing to think that we’ll now be playing our first match against the All Blacks!” the London Wasps player said after Namibia had earned a berth in Pool C of the World Cup with New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Georgia.

The CAR Division 1A doubled up as the Africa Cup and Namibia’s three games there more than doubled the number of Tests they had played since November 2013. One of the biggest problems facing developing African rugby nations is the lack of internationals they play and coach Danie Vermeulen used matches against the Blue Bulls and Western Province in Windhoek to prepare for Namibia’s most important games in four years.

An after-the-hooter penalty by Theuns Kotze – one of six he kicked to go with a conversion – gave Namibia a 30-28 victory over a youthful Western Province side, who had outscored the Welwitschias by three tries to two.

The following week, Namibia were beaten 34-13 by a powerful Bulls outfit. It was a highly physical encounter, in which the Bulls only pulled away in the second half, and Namibia Rugby Union CEO Sybrand de Beer believes his team were perhaps still affected by it when they played Kenya in Madagascar seven days later.

“We didn’t play the way we should of against Kenya and I think the Blue Bulls game took a lot out of the team. They were just not in the moment and we beat ourselves really. It meant World Cup qualification was no longer in our own control, which makes it difficult, we had to rely on other results,” De Beer said.

Two tries in the first 10 minutes by wing Heinrich Smit gave Namibia a great start, and they led 22-19 going into the final quarter, but in trying to keep the strong-finishing Kenyans out, they conceded a raft of penalties and a fourth try and crucial bonus point to start their campaign on a poor note.

Zimbabwe were trying to qualify for their first World Cup since 1991, as well as ending a six-game losing streak against the Welwitschias, who were forced to overturn a 10-17 half-time deficit.

The Sables, boosted by the presence of former Natal Sharks and Gauteng Lions SuperRugby flyhalf Guy Cronje, used their dangerous backs to score the opening try, but Namibia relied on their dominant forwards to rumble their way to a penalty try.

But Zimbabwe’s backs conjured another try just before half-time and a second Cronje penalty stretched their lead to 20-10, forcing Namibia to make a determined comeback in the second half.

Flank Renaldo Bothma, after a great break by replacement hooker Dian Wiese, and fellow loose forward Rohan Kitshoff, from a rolling maul, scored tries converted by Kotze to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

Namibia had to defend stoutly for the last 10 minutes as PJ van Lill was sent to the sin-bin, but they did so to give them a faint chance of progressing.

Against Madagascar, it was the chance for Namibia’s attacking play to shine and, although their forwards dominated from the outset, it took the Welwitschias 12 minutes to stamp their mark on proceedings with centre Johan Deysel’s opening try.

Two more tries, superb long-range efforts by wing David Philander and Exeter Chiefs bound fullback Chrysander Botha, were scored before the end of the first quarter and an outstanding first half saw Namibia go into the break 63-0 up and firmly back in World Cup contention.

Experienced props Johnny Redelinghuys and Jaco Engels both scored tries, while the explosive Bothma scored twice, Philander completed his brace and there was a penalty try as well.

Further tries by Kotze, left wing Johan Tromp, a third by Bothma and another penalty try were the knockout blow for Zimbabwe and Kenya.

It was a moment of great joy for Namibia and a sign that they are past the dissent which plagued rugby in their country around the time of the previous World Cup.

“Rugby in Namibia was quite badly hit in 2011 when the exco resigned and technically we were insolvent. But the latest financial statements have been declared clean and passed without any qualifications and there is good governance and the basic foundation in place. We are now back to concentrating on rugby,” De Beer said.

Namibia’s U20s finished sixth in the Junior World Trophy in Hong Kong, beating 2013 finalists Canada and suffering narrow defeats to eventual winners Japan and Uruguay.

For a country with a small playing base, development is crucial and the IRB’s Get Into Rugby program is reaching tens of thousands of schoolchildren all over the vast south-west African country.

The continuation of the Windhoek Lager Tri-Nations Series is a major benefit for the national team and in November 2013 they saw off two of their major rivals for World Cup qualification, Zimbabwe, 35-26, and Kenya, 55-35.

Looking ahead to World Cup year, the inclusion of Namibia in South Africa’s Vodacom Cup competition (the level below SuperRugby) will obviously benefit preparations, while De Beer and Vermeulen have their eyes set on the acquisition of more players, such as Free State Cheetahs captain Torsten van Jaarsveld and Sharks star Anton Bresler, the lock who has moved to Scotland but was in the peripheral vision of the Springbok selectors.

Bothma, one of the stars of the Mpumalanga Pumas’ Currie Cup Premier Division campaign, is one of the newly-qualified Namibian players and he excelled in Madagascar.

Three matches in Europe in November 2014, against Canada, French Barbarians and Portugal, should ensure the further growth of this resurgent Namibian team.


Landslide victory for South Africa in Sixes 0

Posted on September 16, 2014 by Ken

South Africa secured a landslide victory in the inaugural Global Softech Sixes Africa Challenge at SuperSport Park yesterday, going through the two-day tournament unbeaten and hammering Kenya by six wickets with nine balls to spare in the final.

Kenya looked well on their way to posting a competitive total as Alex Obanda (34 retired off 12 balls) and Collins Obuya (35 retired off nine balls) took them to 82 without loss after four overs, but Robbie Frylinck, voted man of the match, bowled a superb final over that cost just eight runs and included two run outs.

South African opener Cameron Delport has enjoyed an outstanding tournament, passing 30 and having to retire in five out of six innings, and he immediately put the hosts on track as he hit seamer Nehemiah Odhiambo’s first three balls for six.

Odhiambo has been one of the best bowlers in the competition, conceding just 54 runs in five matches before the final, but Delport blasted two fours and another six to end the opening over on 32 off six balls.

Delport’s retirement pitted Mangaliso Mosehle against spinners Shem Ngoche and Collins Obuya and the wicketkeeper thrashed five sixes in the next two overs as he retired on 33 off nine deliveries.

Farhaan Behardien (17* off 4) is the coolest of finishers and David Wiese (10* off 2) the longest of hitters and they polished off the remaining runs required with little fuss.

Kenya had qualified for the final thanks to a better run-rate than Zimbabwe and Uganda.

Uganda are clearly a rising force in African cricket – the great Peter Kirsten is their new coach – and they impressed all and sundry by beating Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Namibia over the two days of action in Centurion.

They missed out on the final due to a lame batting performance against Kenya, only managing 75 for five when they were chasing 88.

Kenya themselves had suffered a case of the red mists descending when they lost by 12 runs to Zimbabwe when chasing just 81.

Uganda had beaten Zimbabwe by one run thanks to excellent overs from Jonathan Sebanja and impressive all-rounder Roger Mukasa.

Individual highlights for South Africa were Mosehle hitting five successive sixes off Narendra Patel and captain Behardien’s 40 not out off eight balls against Kenya in their round-robin game and two for seven versus Tanzania; and Chris Morris’s bowling up front against Uganda.

Scores in brief

Namibia 72-2 (JJ Kotze 31*, Gerrie Snyman 22; Narendra Patel 2-10). Kenya 75-2 (Rakep Patel 35*; Gerrie Snyman 1-6). Kenya won by four wickets.

Tanzania 73-2 (Benson Nyaikini 32*, Khalil Rehemtulla 28*). Uganda 75-2 (Roger Mukasa 34*, Jonathan Sebanja 25). Uganda won by four wickets.

South Africa 128-1 (Cameron Delport 36*, Mangaliso Mosehle 33*, Farhaan Behardien 30*). Zimbabwe 99-3 (Malcolm Waller 34*, Stephen Trenchard 22*, Roy Kaia 24; Chris Morris 2-16). South Africa won by 29 runs.

Tanzania 50-3 (Benson Nyaikini 32*; Collins Obuya 1-2, Rakep Patel 1-6). Kenya 51-0 (Alex Obanda 27*). Kenya won by six wickets.

Uganda 81-3 (Roger Mukasa 31*, Deusdedit Muhumuza 24*; Roy Kaia 2-12). Zimbabwe 80-2 (Timycen Maruma 35*, Malcolm Waller 32*). Uganda won by one run.

South Africa 122-1 (Cameron Delport 31*, Farhaan Behardien 31*, David Wiese 34*). Namibia 69-3 (Sarel Burger 32*). South Africa won by 53 runs.

Zimbabwe 80-3 (Roy Kaia 25*; Narendra Patel 1-10). Kenya 68-1 (Collins Obuya 33*; Roy Kaia 1-8). Zimbabwe won by 12 runs.

Uganda 89-2 (Jonathan Sebanja 24, Arnold Otwan 32*; Chris Morris 1-9). South Africa 92-3 (Robbie Frylinck 34*; Jonathan Sebanja 1-10). South Africa won by three wickets.

Tanzania 91-2 (Abhik Patwa 26, Kassim Mussa 33*, Khalil Rehemtulla 31*). Namibia 86-0 (JJ Kotze 33*, Sarel Burger 31*, Gerrie Snyman 21*). Tanzania won by five runs.

South Africa 122-2 (Cameron Delport 32*, Farhaan Behardien 40*, Mangaliso Mosehle 35*). Kenya 102-3 (Alex Obanda 35*, Collins Obuya 33*, Nehemiah Odhiambo 27). South Africa won by 20 runs.

Uganda 82-2 (Roger Mukasa 31*; Jonathan Sebanja 28, Deusdedit Muhumuza 20*; Sarel Burger 2-15). Namibia 80-2 (JJ Kotze 31*, JJ Smit 25*; Roger Mukasa 2-7). Uganda won by two runs.

Tanzania 91-3 (Abhik Patwa 23, Benson Nyaikini 36*; Malcolm Waller 2-15). Zimbabwe 96-2 (Roy Kaia 31*, Malcolm Waller 31*). Zimbabwe won by four wickets.

Kenya 87-1 (Alex Obanda 34*, Rakep Patel 34*; Jonathan Sebanja 1-8). Uganda 75-5 (Roger Mukasa 20; Rakep Patel 2-14). Kenya won by 12 runs.

Tanzania 62-5 (Nasibu Mapunda 23*; David Wiese 2-11, Farhaan Behardien 2-7). South Africa 64-0 (Cameron Delport 34*, Farhaan Behardien 23*). South Africa won by six wickets.

Namibia 92-3 (JJ Smit 32*, Sarel Burger 31*; Malcolm Waller 2-15). Zimbabwe 96-2 (Timycen Maruma 34*, Malcolm Waller 27, Stephen Trenchard 30*; Christi Viljoen 1-10). Zimbabwe won by four wickets.

Kenya 91-2 (Alex Obanda 34*, Collins Obuya 35*). South Africa 92-0 (Cameron Delport 32*, Mangaliso Mosehle 33*). South Africa won by six wickets.

Kenya grow their 15-a-side team in Vodacom Cup 0

Posted on May 09, 2014 by Ken

Scrumhalf Edwin Achayo feeds flyhalf Kenny Andola as Kenya get their backline going again during their Vodacom Cup victory over the EP Kings. Pic: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

The Vodacom Cup – South Africa’s developmental competition for the provincial teams not involved in SuperRugby – has entered the semi-final stage with overseas visitors Kenya no longer in contention but the tournament did offer the African country the chance to further grow their 15-a-side team.

The Kenyans played as the Tusker Simba XV and although they only won a single match – their opening encounter against the Eastern Province Kings – the fact that they did not finish last in their section provided some comfort.

Kenya were invited by the South African Rugby Union, as part of their mandate to help improve and develop the game in Africa, to take the place of Argentinian side Pampas XV and the east Africans were only too happy to take part, giving a crucial boost to their preparations for the final African World Cup qualifier to be played in Madagascar from June 26.

Namibia have been the African qualifiers for all seven Rugby World Cups and so the rest of the continent are trying to close the gap with them. Zimbabwe and Madagascar are the other countries still in the running for 2015 in England.

Encouragingly for Kenya, the Tusker Simba XV performed no worse than Namibia’s Welwitschias did when they played in the Vodacom Cup in 2010/11 and lost 13 of their 15 matches, winning once and drawing the other game.

And the Tusker Simba XV also suffered some misfortune, losing two of their matches – against Border and Boland – in the final minute.

“It was a great experience and, as we try and qualify for the World Cup, the best thing is to play more games. Last year we won the Africa Cup in Madagascar, but that was only with some games before that. The only way to change that was playing in the Vodacom Cup, and it has been a huge success,” Kenya coach Jerome Paarwater said.

A lack of conditioning was one of the concessions the Tusker Simba XV had to make against almost entirely professional opposition, but the size and attacking promise the Kenyans showed was enough to suggest the 15-a-side team could follow their sevens counterparts up the world rankings.

“Size is certainly not a problem with the Kenyan players, but there is a lack of facilities in Kenya for them to work on their conditioning, which you need to be competitive against professional players for a full 80 minutes.

“But we’re getting them a bit stronger and bigger and the skills levels are improving, so those are positives,” Paarwater, the former Western Province loose forward, said.

“The sevens background of the players means they’re not afraid to attack, it comes naturally to them. It helps that our two wings [Leonard Mugaisi and Dennis Osinde] are both pacy and strong, both around 108/109kg.”

The scrummaging – built around huge identical twins Joseph and James Kang’ethe – was also solid, although they did attract some yellow cards, Paarwater explaining that “The twin props are very aggressive and I think that scared the referees a bit”.

While Kenya’s urban areas are relatively wealthy and modern, 75% of the population work in the agricultural sector and food security is an issue – 38% of the population live in poverty. So there are socio-economic issues that hold rugby back too.

While the International Rugby Board insist that the Kenya Rugby Union find their own sponsors, they are involved in growing the game amongst the youth. Programs like Get Into Rugby ensure that kids that would normally just be herding cows get a chance to experience the beautiful oval-ball game.

“The IRB are heavily involved with development and the U19 team, which is great because Kenya rugby has to step up their junior structures, that is the future. The IRB fund development programs and they’ve given our Sevens team lots of help too.

“It’s good that the Kenya Rugby Union have had to find their own sponsors, it means they don’t just ask for handouts,” Paarwater said.

The Western Province Rugby Union in South Africa, from whom Paarwater has been seconded, have also been a great help, also providing medical supplies.

There’s nothing ham-fisted about the way rugby is being grown in Kenya, as the remarkable success of their Sevens side shows, and they are becoming a growing force in African 15s as well.

“They’re quite jacked up and really serious about rugby in Kenya, including women’s rugby. They’re always trying to improve,” Paarwater said.

And it certainly looks like they are succeeding.

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