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Ken Borland



The future is doubtful but the SA Rugby Annual has the past in glorious detail 0

Posted on May 05, 2017 by Ken

 

It’s been another troubling week in South African rugby with the news of more players going overseas and there have been the usual dire predictions of the game in this country having no future.

In situations like these, looking back into the past sometimes provides solace and the 2017 edition of the South African Rugby Annual, which is available now at all leading retailers nationwide and on certain online platforms, is as comprehensive a collection of all the past glories and sorrows of the game in this country as you could hope to find.

It is a statistical and trivia treasure trove. Did you know for instance that Bulls and Springbok centre Jan Serfontein (2011) and his father, Jan ‘Boelie’ Serfontein (1976-78), the former Eastern Province eighthman, were the first father and son combination to play for the SA Schools team?

Serfontein junior is of course the player who dropped the bombshell this week that he is leaving South African rugby, thus joining the four pages of South Africans playing abroad compiled by Stuart Farmer, a section of the Annual that is growing at a daunting pace.

The Annual obviously provides a comprehensive wrap of the Springboks in 2016, including a report on their draw against the Barbarians at Wembley last November, when Francois Venter first played for the national side. The Cheetahs centre will perhaps gain the most from Serfontein’s exit and many would say ‘what’s all the fuss about’ given how good a player Venter is.

Why I believe there should be a fuss made about Serfontein’s move is because his agent belongs to the same Essentially sports management company behind the controversial departures of South African cricketers Rilee Rossouw and Kyle Abbott as well as numerous other rugby players now playing abroad.

I have it on good authority that Essentially only earn commission when they land their players an overseas deal, so it is obvious they have a massive vested interest in pushing players to go the foreign route. What they have been doing to South African sport recently amounts to strip-mining its assets.

It is difficult to know where SA Rugby can go to stop the plunder – Serfontein was offered what he himself described as a “generous” national contract – but perhaps it’s time they became strict on players not being allowed to negotiate with other clubs while still under contract.

It was reported in France as far back as January that Serfontein had signed a three-year deal with Montpellier, so his subsequent ‘negotiations’ with SA Rugby and the Bulls were undoubtedly in bad faith, much like the poor form Rossouw showed in his dealings with Cricket South Africa.

There was, of course, no guarantee that Serfontein would have been in the Springbok midfield when they line up against France next month – the Annual will tell you that South Africa’s last Test against Les Bleus was, astonishingly, the 19-10 win in Paris back in November 2013 – and, to be fair, the 25-year-old has not always done full justice to his talents when he has pulled on the Green and Gold.

It’s all part of the change though that is inevitable in rugby, like the rise of Argentina – in the Springbok section of the Annual you can find the results of the eight Tests they played against the whole South American continent (and latterly ‘boosted’ by Spain) between 1980 and 1984 and now we struggle to beat just the one country!

Anyway, for those of you who want to blame the Bulls for letting Serfontein go, you can find the franchise’s phone number and address, and those of all the SuperRugby teams, inside the Annual to make your protest action easier.

The Annual also provides full SuperRugby coverage, including that the Lions used 44 players in the competition, while the Currie Cup section will show you that Border used 40. If you are interested in Valke players, there is a complete list of them too, as well as all of their 2016 results. The Varsity Cup is also covered.

If global rugby is your thing, you can find out the score when Rwanda played Burundi in Kigali last May or who the leading try-scorers in world rugby are.

Other intriguing lists provided by editors Duane Heath and Eddie Grieb are of all the top schoolboy players and their schools, all SA Schools caps since 1974 and all players who have appeared in Currie Cup finals. And there are photographs too – including a classic of gigantic Waratahs lock Will Skelton engulfing some unfortunate opponent much like the euro/pound/yen are overwhelming the rand.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170422/282462823807677

Quotas are the fees CSA must pay for political support 0

Posted on April 14, 2017 by Ken

 

One way of thinking of quotas is as the fees sports bodies must pay to the minister of sport for political support, so the great news that Fikile Mbalula and his circus have been removed from sport creates a new dynamic.

Of course, rational sports fans and true patriots will be treating the appointment of Thulas Nxesi as the new minister of sport with some caution. Judging by his obfuscation of the Nkandla issue during his previous role as minister of public works, he seems to struggle with figures and the quota calculations used in cricket might be a challenge for him.

Ironically, Cricket South Africa actually presented a report on their transformation successes to parliament’s sports portfolio committee this week and they managed to meet their targets with a bit of wriggle room.

Over the last international season, the Proteas were meant to provide 161 playing opportunities for players of colour and 54 for Black Africans, and they have surpassed those quotas by a percentage point or two.

So the system seems to be working at international level and has been met with approval by coach Russell Domingo and the players, who are probably most grateful for the fact that they now know exactly where they stand.

But our domestic cricket is also vital as the feeder to the Proteas and the different system of quotas used here has certainly detracted from the quality of fare on offer. Not so much in terms of the players not being good enough to play at that level, but rather because of the imbalances caused by having a hard-and-fast rule of five Whites and six players of colour, three of which must be Black Africans.

The Momentum One-Day Cup final was played in Centurion on Friday between the Titans and the Warriors, an exact repeat of the CSA T20 Challenge final.

In the T20 final, the Warriors were unable to play their leading wicket-taker, Andrew Birch, because the quota and the need to balance the side dictated that either he or Kyle Abbott would play, but not both. Similarly, the Titans went into the 50-over final without two of their key players – leg-spinner Shaun von Berg, their most successful bowler, and all-rounder David Wiese, an international and potent force in limited-overs cricket. That’s due to the return from Proteas duty of Tabraiz Shamsi and Chris Morris.

To prevent these occurences, which clearly detract from the occasion of a final and bring the whole system into disrepute, why are the franchises not allowed a package deal just like the Proteas? Why can’t their transformation successes be measured as a total figure at the end of the season? Then playing their best team in a final is possible, as long as they have concentrated on ensuring they are ahead of the transformation curve in the regular season.

It’s funny how quickly solutions can be found when money is the issue. Cricket South Africa’s new T20 Global League has a focus on securing foreign investment and the sport’s governing body has realised that team owners are going to want to pick their teams strictly on merit, or else they will take their money elsewhere.

And so it seems there will be no quotas or transformation targets in that competition. Moral principles and the need to redress the past have all suddenly flown out the window because of money. But CSA would certainly be speaking the same language as Mbalula and his successor Nxesi in that regard.

Are our national team or our professional franchises so unimportant that they don’t deserve the same consideration?

SA cricket risks losing Walter to NZ team 0

Posted on July 11, 2016 by Ken

South African cricket risks losing one of its most promising coaches to New Zealand with the bombshell news that Titans mentor Rob Walter will be moving there before the start of the new season.

Walter has won four trophies in his three-year term with the Titans, including both the Sunfoil Series and RamSlam T20 Challenge crowns last season, and, with Russell Domingo’s position as national coach under threat, was one of the favourites to succeed him along with Highveld Lions mentor Geoff Toyana.

The 41-year-old told The Citizen, however, that he did not feel he was likely to become Proteas coach anytime soon, so he felt the opportunity to work overseas and broaden his horizons was too good to refuse.

“I’ve had three years in South Africa, which is a unique coaching environment, and I understand the challenges, positives and strengths of the game here. I feel it’s time to spread my wings, growth only happens in challenging situations and I need to think about my next step as a coach. I have certain aspirations and I need to make the best decisions to reach them. Obviously I want to coach a national team and the first priority is my own, but if you look at the Proteas and the time frames involved, in the short-term it might not happen here. I hope my name would have popped up in the discussions, but I don’t think I’m next in line. So how do I grow in the next four years?,” Walter said.

Walter’s departure adds to the exodus of many young players from these shores and the former Proteas conditioning coach admitted that he would also be open to coaching the New Zealand team if that opportunity arose.

Walter said he would take only fond memories of his time with the Titans and he was positive about South African cricket in general.

“It was a massively tough decision to make because I love it at the Titans, I’ve had an amazing time and they’ve treated me so well. I hope my passion for the franchise came through as well. But I have a young family and with my first son just being born, it’s the right time to move. It’s sad, nobody has stood in the way of my opportunities in South Africa and unfortunately I wasn’t able to take up a position with the SA A team this winter, but it’s a great opportunity with Otago in New Zealand,” he said.

Jacques Faul, the CEO of the Titans, said that he was still recovering from the shock of losing their coach.

“Rob has been amazing, in 13 years as a CEO I’ve worked with a lot of coaches and he was an absolute delight to work with. There’s no ego, a great work ethic and we will certainly miss him.

“The board will meet next week to decide on the process of appointing a new coach,” Faul said.

http://www.citizen.co.za/1192745/rob-walter-leaving-sa/

As if dismal performance was not bad enough for Sharks … Lambie injured & Deysel banned 0

Posted on June 03, 2016 by Ken

 

As if the dismal performance over the weekend was not bad enough for Sharks supporters, there was even worse news on Tuesday as Pat Lambie was ruled out for six weeks and Jean Deysel received a seven-week suspension after his stupid red card against the Crusaders.

Captain Lambie has injured his neck vertebrae and his absence continues the curse of the captaincy for the Sharks. Bismarck du Plessis was named as the captain for the season but is currently suspended for an idiotic act of foul play, which his replacement, Deysel, has now replicated. Another member of the leadership team, Francois Steyn, is also suspended for a dangerous tip-tackle.

Eighthman Ryan Kankowski now looks certain to be handed the poisoned chalice and the responsibility of leading his team away from the precipice. Although, as director of rugby Gary Gold points out, the Sharks are still handily placed in the competition – in seventh place on 19 points, the same as conference leaders the Bulls, who do however have a game in hand – there is little doubt that they are standing at a crossroads.

If the Sharks don’t change direction, quickly rediscover some heart and sense of team purpose, then their season will probably sink without a trace. Alternatively, beating the high-flying Lions in Johannesburg this weekend would be just the tonic required to allow them to start forgetting about all the travails of the last few weeks.

Gold is not trying to make excuses but is also not just going to throw in the towel.

“It is an emotional time and it is a challenging week for us. People point at the scoreboard, and that is how it should be. But I honestly feel this adversity gives us an opportunity for real growth.

“We will fix it. I believe in these players, it is a great group of guys. We are just not playing well at the moment and nobody can deny that. But we are still in the hunt. It is not the end of the world, we are not in the bottom half of the table. We are just going to have to show some character. We are going to have to step up to the plate. It is as simple as that,” Gold said.

Lambie’s replacement at flyhalf is likely be Fred Zeilinga, who has shown he is not out of his depth in Super Rugby, while Renaldo Bothma should return to the starting line-up to replace Deysel.



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