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Ken Borland



That’s awful, Bulls! 0

Posted on March 27, 2017 by Ken

 

The Bulls started their overseas tour with a parlous 38-14 defeat at the hands of the Blues in Albany on Saturday, a loss and awful performance that’s going to cause questions to be asked about the team’s coaching and management.

The Bulls were level 7-7 at halftime, having already conceded seven penalties, made numerous handling errors and looked out-of-sync on attack, but that’s as good as it got for the tourists as the second half saw them totally disintegrate as the Blues added five more tries to earn a bonus point.

Replacement scrumhalf Rudy Paige was given a consolation try after the final hooter, having not grounded the ball but probably deserving a penalty try anyway, but the Bulls had been goners long before that.

The Bulls started brightly enough with a promising attack in the Blues’ 22, but referee Nic Berry ended it with a harsh obstruction call. The home side’s backline was gone in a flash, roaring up the left side of the field and some superb handling and offloads by fullback Michael Collins and wing Melani Nanai saw scrumhalf Augustine Pulu scooting over the line for the opening try, in the third minute.

The Bulls would be back on level terms after 17 minutes as they earned a ruck penalty, flyhalf Handre Pollard’s super kick set up a lineout in the corner and prop Lizo Gqoboka burrowed over for a try after the driving maul.

There would be further opportunities for the Bulls in the first half, but they were ponderous with turnover ball and their dire handling meant errors interrupted just about every attack after a few phases.

The second half would be the same story, only worse, as the Blues quickly seized control of the game.

An early attack by the Bulls came to nothing as nobody seemed to know who was meant to clean, be a pillar or play halfback at a ruck, and Pollard then missed a tackle on Collins, allowing a lovely offload to wing Matt Duffie, who went through a poor tackle by opposite number Jamba Ulengo to score the second try, also converted by flyhalf Piers Francis.

The most astonishing example of clueless play by the Bulls came in the 56th minute. Lock Lood de Jager did well to steal the ball at a five-metre lineout, but at the resulting ruck, scrumhalf Piet van Zyl went to play pillar and replacement flank Jannes Kirsten cleared the ball, making the awful decision to feed a pod inside his own in-goal area. That conceded a five-metre scrum, from which Francis’s pinpoint kick-pass across the field was claimed by Duffie for his second try.

It didn’t even help the Bulls when Blues flank Jimmy Tupou was temporarily sent from the field for a neck roll. Pollard was replaced on the hour mark in what was apparently a scheduled change, but new flyhalf Tian Schoeman was unable to find touch from a scrum penalty the Bulls earned.

Soon thereafter, Ulengo burst out of defensive alignment like a crazed shopper going after Black Friday sales, and the Blues’ replacement flyhalf, Ihaia West, knifed through to score.

The Blues were 24-7 up and continued to boss the game as one was left with the nagging impression that the Bulls ran out of legs.

The home side were able to hang on to the ball through numerous phases because of their impressive handling skills, with outside centre Rieko Ioane making his presence felt with a couple of great runs, going from one side of the field to the other before replacement hooker Matt Moulds ended the attack by going over in the corner.

West had barely kicked the conversion for a 31-7 lead when he was bursting through the line again, with the Bulls defence far too narrow, creating acres of space out wide for Nanai to go roaring through for a dazzling try.

The Bulls did get the final points as they earned a free kick at a scrum under the poles and Paige, who should have come on earlier for a hesitant Van Zyl, went on his own to score their second try.

While most pundits expected the Bulls to lose, nobody expected such a dismal display from them and they have a lot of introspection ahead of them this week before facing the mighty Chiefs.

Scorers

BluesTries: Augustine Pulu, Matt Duffie (2), Ihaia West, Matt Moulds, Melani Nanai. Conversions: Piers Francis (2), West (2).

BullsTries: Lizo Gqoboka, Rudy Paige. Conversions: Handre Pollard, Tian Schoeman.

 

 

In Allister the Springboks have the right man 0

Posted on April 18, 2016 by Ken

 

Although I would have liked to have seen some big-name overseas input in the management team, in Allister Coetzee the Springboks have a coach who is vastly experienced, has excellent man-management skills and will avoid the transformation pitfalls that plagued his predecessor, which is vital in this country.

Coetzee was a strong contender for the post way back in 2008, but those were the days when Cheeky Watson held powerful sway in South African rugby and the disgraced Eastern Province president was firmly in the Peter de Villiers camp.

In a way, I’m actually quite pleased now that Coetzee did not get the job straight after he had been part of Jake White’s management team that won the World Cup in 2007. The former scrumhalf star has spent the last eight years gaining more and more experience, to the extent that of all the Springbok coaches appointed since 1992, he has the most experience of them all.

Early coaches like John Williams, Ian McIntosh and Kitch Christie had no international background, while Andre Markgraaff and Carel du Plessis had not coached at SuperRugby level. Nick Mallett, Harry Viljoen and Rudolf Straeuli had experience in that competition, but were not part of successful Springbok management teams before their promotion.

White and De Villiers both won the junior world cup but had never been head coach of a SuperRugby franchise, while Heyneke Meyer had success with the Bulls but only a little involvement with Springbok teams.

Critics of Coetzee point to the dour style of rugby he played in making four SuperRugby playoffs, winning the South African Conference three times and claiming two Currie Cup titles, but it’s important to look at that in context.

When he took over an ailing Stormers in 2010, the then laws of the game favoured teams that played territory and could defend well, at times the less ball you had the better. Think of how well the Springboks did around that time and what sort of rugby they played, beating the All Blacks five times between 2008 and 2011.

Of course, as the laws changed, Coetzee said he tried to make sure the Stormers’ play evolved as well, but it was not as easy as just applying a new lick of paint.

Players who have worked with Coetzee – and not just with the Stormers, Fourie du Preez for instance – have the utmost respect for his ability as a coach. The 52-year-old will have the attacking and skills input of Mzwandile Stick, one of the best Sevens players this country has ever produced and obviously a talented coach in his own right given that he steered Eastern Province to the U19 Currie Cup title.

In terms of an overseas appointment, Saru probably don’t have the money and the top overseas names probably don’t have the inclination or the inside knowledge to get involved in the murky politics of our rugby, so local will have to be lekker for now. CEO Jurie Roux said Coetzee is welcome to call in any short-term consultants he requires.

Much has been made of Saru’s goal of making the Springbok team 50% representative by the next World Cup and Coetzee said it shouldn’t be an issue for him. He managed to field a transformed Stormers side and keep winning at the same time.

The talent is there to fulfil any quotas, but if Coetzee does run into problems now and then in terms of balancing his side, at least nobody is going to call him a racist as Watson once tried to imply.

The Springbok coaching reins have undoubtedly been handed to the right man, although an efficient organisation would have given Coetzee much more time to prepare for a tough debut when Ireland come to these shores in June.

High time at Loftus as the Bulls rapidly evolve 0

Posted on October 14, 2015 by Ken

 

Just four months ago, the Blue Bulls Rugby Union was in a sorry state with Frans Ludeke about to be axed as coach, the SuperRugby side ending a miserable campaign with a humiliating loss at home to the Cheetahs, and the players, management and administrators all pulling in different directions.

The atmosphere at Loftus Versfeld was so bad and so stuck in its ways that I called them dinosaurs in this same column.

But since then, there has been rapid evolution and their fortunes have soared with new coach Nollis Marais taking them to a home semi-final in the Currie Cup, playing a fresh, invigorating brand of rugby that has brought the crowds back to Loftus Versfeld, and giving much of the young talent that was being unused and growing frustrated the chance to shine.

Marais has already received his reward in that he has been confirmed as the SuperRugby coach and he has been given a four-year contract, an incredible sign of faith from a Bulls board that has never been known for its willingness to take a chance.

But CEO Barend van Graan said the sight of families returning in droves to Loftus Versfeld made it an easy decision.

“We can see how the tide has turned the last few weeks and attendances have been double what they were compared to last year, nearly the same as for SuperRugby games. Not many applicants reached the standards we require and it was not a difficult decision, Nollis had the inside track because of what has happened in the Currie Cup.

“Our expectations are high, if not I’m sure we would have only given him a one or two-year contract. But we have a lot of confidence in Nollis and he now has the opportunity to build for the next four years. He’s already brought through a number of young, excellent players,” Van Graan said.

While Marais has thoroughly updated the Bulls’ style of play, credit must also go to Van Graan and his board for realising that they need to adapt as well. The CEO said the BBRU would need to adjust their strategies.

“There are decreasing White numbers in our area, the whole demographic of Pretoria is changing dramatically. There are eight PSL teams in Gauteng, plus one each in North-West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, so this is a soccer region. The average crowd for a PSL game is 5000.

“Twenty-eight percent of the Blue Bulls’ support comes from the Eastern Cape and 98% of that is Black, most of whom don’t have pay-TV at home. So we have to revise our strategy and penetrate new markets. In the last five years, we have seen a decline of more than 70% on the number of tickets sold at the ground. People just buy tickets on the internet now and they’re no longer buying season tickets,” Van Graan pointed out.

The Bulls have earned a reputation for being aggressive recruiters of junior players, but their showcase teams have also suffered due to a revolving door of players leaving or losing their contracts.

“Since 2011, we have lost 57 players, a lot of them to the Euro, Yen and British Pound. But things are cyclical in a team sport, you have to let guys go, but perhaps we released too many players, in hindsight. The last six or seven SA U21 captains have come from here, but our Currie Cup side will be even younger next year so we need to be smart in our recruiting. We need to fast-track talent, but only five percent of the schools in our region play rugby,” Van Graan said.

Marais has given the Bulls a new lease of life on the field and credit should also be given to Van Graan and the board for identifying the new direction the BBRU has to take. If they continue along this path, there’s no reason why the Bulls shouldn’t in time become the most powerful union in the country again.

 

 

CSA management praised at AGM for R199m profit 0

Posted on September 18, 2014 by Ken

The management of Cricket South Africa were praised on Saturday for their effective running of the organisation through trying times as a profit of R199 million was announced at the annual general meeting at O.R. Tambo International Airport.

The audited financial statements showed revenue of R810 607 000 for the year ended April 30, 2014, with expenses of R634 092 000. With investment income of R17 324 000 and a net foreign exchange gain of R5 571 000, CSA were able to present a total profit of R199 410 000 for the financial year. This is only R18 million less than the targeted profit despite the calamitous curtailing of the lucrative Indian tour to South Africa late last year.

“Instead of the R200 million loss predicted by some in the media because of the India tour being curtailed, we are less than R20 million short of our target. If you consider the high level of dysfunctionality in governance and the inappropriate responses of the board back in 2010, then the management has been our saving grace. They have put a semblance of normality in place, they had to be creative and resilient and we have moved from crisis to normality,” CSA president Chris Nenzani said at the AGM.

Louis von Zeuner, an independent director, the chairman of the audit and risk sub-committee and a leading businessman, also praised CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat and chief financial officer Naasei Appiah for their efforts.

“We really must applaud management for the way they have dealt with such curtailed income, stabilising cricket in this time of changing financial models. We have a balance on the board between business people and those with the cricket knowledge, so it’s the best of both worlds. If you look at the economy, the exchange rate, the impacts of changes in the international body and sponsors, it’s a totally different environment nowadays,” Von Zeuner said.

Appiah pointed out that cricket’s finances had to be planned over a four-year cycle and this four-year cycle just ended had seen CSA budget for R500 million a year of expenses, which would now increase to R650 million per year for the next four-year cycle.

Lorgat said this success was due to CSA implementing more efficient financial systems.

“We had to generate new revenues, such as the Festival of Cricket, but this did not affect our existing cricket activities. It was untrue when reports said we had to cut programs.

“What did happen was the re-engineering of our operating model, we had to understand exactly how everything worked, through a far more detailed process of measuring and managing, down to such details as ‘how many match balls does an affiliate need?’

“We’re confident that we can control the growth and sustenance of the game because we went into great detail to come up with the numbers. Funds are now allocated exactly according to activity, whereas in the past we used to just divide up the cake,” Lorgat said.

The CEO also said the Future Tours Programme for the next eight years would see a 44% increase in international cricket hosted by South Africa, with an average of 46 days of Proteas action per year, as compared to 32 in the previous FTP.

The money men were particularly looking forward to 2017/18 when four international teams, including India, are scheduled to tour South Africa, with 13 Tests set to be played.

“We’re fortunate to have the world’s best team, so we’re in a good space to be able to work out a profitable FTP, plus South Africa is an attractive destination,” Lorgat added.

http://www.supersport.com/cricket/domestic-cricket/news/140913/csa_management_praised_for_r199m_profit



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