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Ken Borland



John Smit Q&A 0

Posted on July 28, 2016 by Ken

 

While the Sharks team has scrapped their way into the SuperRugby playoffs, an off-field battle has been polluting the waters around KwaZulu-Natal rugby. John Smit, who has announced he will be stepping down as chief executive, with Gary Teichmann, another former Springbok captain, announced this week as his successor, answers Ken Borland’s questions about the controversies and successes of his term.

What has caused the delay in the financial statements?

 

JS: Essentially we were renegotiating our debt/equity situation and the favourable outcome was announced this week with the recapitalisation of shares. It has some complexities, but in essence SuperSport have acquired 9% from KZNRU and then both entities have been issued more shares, together with another financial instrument, the net effect of which is that the Sharks have R40m recapitalised. Furthermore, we were trying to make sure that any future arrangement benefited our schools, clubs and development programmes. To this end Supersport really stepped up to the plate and we are most fortunate to be able to count on them as a shareholder. They will support our amateur organisation to grow our school base, clubs and support our development programme. We’re in a great space.

The economic downturn has affected all the franchises, but just how badly off are the Sharks?

JS: I don’t think it is news that our franchises are under pressure with attempting to retain players while competing with foreign currency, but we as a franchise had to do something to stem the tide and create a business plan that takes us back to operating successfully on both fronts, on the field and off. With this amazing move from SuperSport to inject R40m into the Sharks we can now realistically look at having a profit-bearing budget for the first time in over a decade by 2019. We have had to think smartly as to how we contract players and as frustrated as people have been this year with on-field performance, our new, much younger squad with far less internationals has in its first year together qualified for the playoffs, which for me is a great sign considering the draw of death we were in. This group is signed with us for the next few years and I can’t wait to see how they blossom. Our financial performance in 2016 is right on track and will reflect some of the major changes already implemented. Losses should not exceed R5m and hopefully we do a little better.

How has your relationship been with KZNRU president Graham McKenzie and chairman of the board Stephen Saad?

 

JS: These two men as well as others on the board have been very supportive of me in my tenure, Stephen has given me so much of his time, for which I am truly grateful as he runs a massive business, values time with his family immensely and he has always found time to assist with every issue I brought him over the last three years.

Are you satisfied with the number of sponsors on board and the key relationships you have developed for the union during your time as CEO?

 

JS: This is probably the area of the business I enjoyed most and looking back on the revenue we managed to increase on the sponsorship front over the last three years is pleasing. The fact that Cell C have bought into the vision and plan for this team’s future by renewing for a further three years is probably our biggest victory in this rebuilding phase. The other very important relationship that needed mending was with our very own city. Being one of Durban’s greatest assets I found it sad how far removed we were from each other and can proudly say that we now truly are partners. Durban Tourism has been instrumental in us being able to host the All Blacks this year and from there the discussions around a possible stadium move emerged, now knowing full well that any such move would need to benefit both parties should it happen.

You have been criticised for getting rid of Sharks stalwarts like John Plumtree and Rudolf Straeuli, what were the reasons for your decisions?

 

JS: I think in my three years one thing I could count on was that every time the team lost I was guaranteed to hear or read about Plum not being renewed! So much has been written and said about this issue but I have to say I was devastated at how it was handled. I had a very different idea in my mind of how this process was going to unfold while still in the UK, until one journalist and ex-coach decided to play their part. Never was it my intention to have Plum treated like that and he is justifiably angry. The discussion I wanted to have with Plum was to be one-on-one to ascertain where he saw himself currently and why he believed we hadn’t excelled at SuperRugby yet with the quality of squad we had. One needs to remember that coming in as a new CEO making that change was not an easy one or one taken without the consultation of many players, board members and rugby people close to the brand, with the most important part of this process being taken away by not being able to discuss with Plum himself. The irony is Plum had for months prior to my appointment been asking my predecessor to extend his contract with no luck. It is sad for me how it turned out, Plum was a friend of mine and as a coach I enjoyed playing under him while at the Sharks.

Rudolf asked to leave when offered the Lions CEO post. My relationship with him is still strong and I have always enjoyed Rudolf, his success at the Lions is no surprise to me. He was a great asset to us.

 

Do you have any advice for your successor?

 

JS: Wow, how long do we have! On a serious note though, I’m delighted that Gary Teichmann is our next CEO. We have sat down and discussed the areas integral to the business and where the possible hurdles lie. My advice to him was to try and block out the noise and focus on the job, he too will have similar challenges as I did being a high-profile person coming in and it’s important he knows that the same people who pump up his tyres now will slash them at will when they don’t get what they feel they need. So the best advice I can give is the same advice I was given many years ago: Decide your direction of journey, stay on course and don’t be distracted by either the good or bad noise along the way.

 

 

Sea of bad news for Dolphins but Morgan positive 0

Posted on June 15, 2016 by Ken

 

New coach Grant Morgan has just completed his first week at the Dolphins amidst a sea of bad news for the KwaZulu-Natal franchise, but as a dogged former cricketer he says the challenges will be turned into positives.

The Dolphins have lost marquee stars in David Miller and Kyle Abbott, international all-rounder Ryan McLaren and up-and-coming players like Mathew Pillans, Jonathan Vandiar, Daniel Sincuba, Craig Kirsten and Aya Myoli, while their CEO, Pete de Wet, confirmed this week that he will be leaving his post at the end of July to become the chief executive of Central Districts in New Zealand.

“They can knock down Kingsmead stadium and move us all to Chatsworth and I won’t mind. I expect more challenges in the role and we will turn them into positives. A lot of people will look at us and say we’re in trouble, maybe underestimate us, and we can trade on that. There are some gems in KZN cricket that people don’t even know about,” Morgan told Saturday Citizen on Friday.

While the 44-year-old is not the high-profile, internationally-experienced coach some Dolphins fans were hoping for – it’s not as if the franchise has billions of rand to attract that sort of figure – Morgan fits the bill as a well-travelled and successful coach.

“The first challenge I had to get over was people always saying I haven’t coached at that level. But I’ve been involved with 19 different teams and encountered a lot of cultures and circumstances, at four different unions, some universities, IPL teams and overseas clubs.

“And there are a couple of lurkers in this Dolphins squad that most people in South Africa don’t know about, guys I really feel can make a jump up, they can jump out of the pack. Some are already good enough for the next level, I just need to build their self-belief. I tell them all that when they come back to Kingsmead for a 10-year reunion, I want them to say these were the greatest days of their lives,” Morgan said.

The winner of four domestic trophies with the KZN Inland side wants his players to be lion-hearted and brave in their cricket.

“We want to play positive and attractive cricket, although you always want the bragging rights of being able to win. But we need an aggressive brand that will turn people back to Kingsmead, we need to show that we are enjoying what we do. I’ll encourage them to take the risk, but be humble players.

“I also don’t want to isolate the amateur guys, I’ll be working with the semi-professional team coaches Shane Burger and Roger Telemachus. Those players must see that I am there for them too, I want to draw the net wider and develop them too, make them believe that they can step up as well,” Morgan said.

 

Michaelhouse & College lift KZN spirits with unbeaten records 0

Posted on June 02, 2016 by Ken

 

It’s not all bad news for KwaZulu-Natal rugby at the moment with Michaelhouse and Maritzburg College emerging unbeaten from the St Stithians Easter Festival on Monday, joining Wynberg Boys’ High School as the only teams with a perfect three-from-three record.

Grey High from Port Elizabeth were also highly impressive at the festival and, although Maritzburg College pipped them 20-16 on the opening day, they ended their long weekend on a high with a brilliant 41-0 victory over Pretoria Boys’ High School. They have some quality players and one can expect to see the names of fullback Curwin Bosch, eighthman Kwezi Mafu and lock Kamva Dilima in the papers moving forward.

Michaelhouse were given their stiffest test by a plucky Windhoek High School side, but their ability to get quick ruck ball and the attacking skills of their players saw them run out 40-19 winners. Flyhalf Bader Pretorius scored 15 of their points and was impressive in marshalling his backline.

The Maritzburg College backline and the metronomic boot of fullback Ruben van Blerk were the main agents of destruction as they hammered the Schoonspruit Invitation XV from the Western Cape 78-0, right wing Kudzaishe Munangi scoring a first-half hat-trick and the other wing, Xolisa Guma, adding two tries.

Pretoria Boys’ High endured a disappointing festival, also losing to Wynberg on the first day, and they did not have the belief or consistency of skills to challenge Grey High in the third game on Monday.

Wynberg looked a tightly-knit, spirited unit as, led by inspirational scrumhalf Labib Kannemeyer, they overwhelmed St Alban’s 53-0.

Hosts St Stithians were forced to play second-fiddle at their own festival as, following their 51-3 thrashing at the hands of Michaelhouse on the second day, they surrendered a 24-7 lead and lost 29-24 to another KZN school, Clifton College, on Monday.

Helpmekaar finally enjoyed that winning feeling on Monday when they edged out St Andrew’s 29-28, fullback Chuiner van Rooyen scoring a dazzling solo try that was the difference between the teams in the end.

Results

Day Three – Michaelhouse 40 Windhoek HS 19; Maritzburg College 78 Schoonspruit Invitation 0; Grey High 41 Pretoria BHS 0; Wynberg BHS 53 St Alban’s 0; Clifton College 29 St Stithians 24; Helpmekaar 29 St Andrew’s 28.

Day Two – Pretoria BHS 22 Windhoek HS 12; Maritzburg College 34 St Alban’s 16; Clifton College 54 Schoonspruit Invitation 12; Wynberg BHS 36 St Andrew’s 12; Grey High 31 Helpmekaar 13; Michaelhouse 51 St Stithians 3.

Day One – St Andrew’s 31 St Alban’s 12; Wynberg BHS 24 Pretoria BHS 17; Windhoek HS 26 Clifton College 19; St Stithians 36 Schoonspruit Invitation 5; Michaelhouse 52 Helpmekaar 19; Maritzburg College 20 Grey High 16.

Southern Kings not to be underestimated after Rassie consulting – Gold 0

Posted on February 25, 2016 by Ken

 

The Sharks may have enjoyed an impressive pre-season tour to France while the Southern Kings, their opening opponents in SuperRugby this weekend, endured shambolic preparation, but the KwaZulu-Natal side’s director of rugby, Gary Gold, has warned that the Eastern Cape team should not be taken for granted, especially with Rassie Erasmus consulting for them.

Erasmus and his mobi-unit of top specialists were in Port Elizabeth in January to help Kings coach Deon Davids fast-track their preparations and the word from their camp is that they feel ready to compete. The Sharks will be the first team to test that readiness and Gold said they would be cautious.

“It’s exactly the same situation we had with the Cheetahs last year in our first game, so we do not take the Southern Kings lightly as a team. Deon Davids is a good coach and he would have got great help from Rassie and the mobi-unit. And they’ll be desperate to prove their detractors wrong.

“We have to make sure we don’t slip up like we did against the Cheetahs last year. We’re just trying to stay away from expectations and focus on what we do well. The two games in France have shown us how far we’ve come in certain areas. We had a very clear strategy in our pre-season in terms of how we prepared: We really put time and energy into four or five areas which we hope will have the most effect on the game,” Gold told The Citizen.

The Sharks beat Toulon 29-21 and Toulouse 31-17, but Gold said the results were only of secondary importance to how they played and he was very satisfied with their performance. With the time now available before their first SuperRugby game on Saturday, they will brush up on the areas that have not received as much attention.

“It’s not about the results but the performance and I was very satisfied with the things we worked on, we got reward for those, we’ll bank those, but now it’s time to sharpen the pencil. It’s now time to focus on other areas and we know that if we don’t put time and energy into those then we’ll come a cropper, so those areas will develop.

“We scored five tries and three tries in the two games, so I’m happy with that. Toulon could only score through driving mauls against us, three times, but we hadn’t worked on that yet.

“People ask how we want to play, well, first and foremost we want to win and the foundation for winning is a solid defence. That’s one of the areas where I feel we’ve made good progress, it was a helluva lot more consistent. Defence is where a team shows its camaraderie, whether they’re willing to fight for each other. As a coaching staff, we’re very excited because we’ve put our faith in this young group and they’ve repaid us,” Gold said.

 

 

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  • 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



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