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Ken Borland

Chapter & verse from Coetzee, and then what? 0

Posted on December 10, 2017 by Ken


In the next week, national coach Allister Coetzee will have to give chapter and verse on what happened to the Springboks this year to the SA Rugby executive council and if he stays true to his public pronouncements after the loss to Wales, then he will describe his charges as “a side that is on the up” and having “a really healthy team environment”.

Which is nothing but a sop for a South African public that rightly expects top-class performances from their national rugby team. Instead, the Springboks have endured a decidedly mediocre year, without a single rousing victory for Coetzee to rave about at his performance review. Victories over France, Argentina and Italy are not results we would expect the Springboks to boast about, and neither were two draws against a very average Australian side.

The results have been disappointing enough but to add insult to injury, the Springboks are playing such uninspired rugby that it feels like we are back to the most conservative days early on in Heyneke Meyer’s tenure as national coach.

Simply put, the Springboks are not making any progress under Coetzee. In fact, we have seen two more unwanted milestones set this year in record defeats to New Zealand and Ireland.

To put an end to this continued slide into mediocrity, SA Rugby simply have to hold Coetzee accountable and relieve him of his duties as Springbok coach. I had sympathy for him this time last year because he was coaching with one hand tied behind his back, perhaps even being set up to fail, but this year he has been given everything he wanted and even said at the start of the campaign that there were no excuses this year.

In the general public, Rassie Erasmus, freshly back in the post of director of rugby, is seen as the obvious candidate to replace Coetzee and try and rescue South Africa’s hopes for the 2019 World Cup.

But Erasmus has shown little desire to emerge from the shadows, from which he has been strategising, and there seems little doubt that the rumours that Deon Davids of the Southern Kings will be the new Springbok coach have emanated from his office via his usual journalistic channels.

Davids has done wonders with the Kings considering the lack of resources, both in terms of players and finance, and time he has had to deal with, and is highly-rated as a coach. But other players and coaches tell me he would be out of his depth at international level.

I do have a fundamental problem, though, if Davids is appointed to merely be the face of the Springboks with Erasmus making all the big decisions.

The Springbok coach needs to be accountable to the fans and he needs to be regularly available to the media to explain his decisions; something Coetzee and those before him have never shirked. Erasmus cannot be allowed to be pulling the strings and not seen to be answerable for the national team’s performance.

As Springbok coach, Coetzee has made some stupid selections (such as neutralising Eben Etzebeth as an enforcer by making him captain) and has rightly been called to task for them; Erasmus cannot be allowed to operate as a dictatorial figure whose instructions are not open to scrutiny.

The time has come for change, but as in Zimbabwean politics, there are concerns that the change won’t necessarily be for the better. The smooth-talking Erasmus has been able to con a lot of people in recent years, but perhaps now is the time for him to display his rugby acumen in the frontline, under the glare of the television cameras and the beady eye of the fourth estate.


60% Sharks stutter into playoffs 0

Posted on July 18, 2016 by Ken


The Cell C Sharks operated at about 60 percent of what will be required from next week as they stuttered to a 40-29 win over the Sunwolves at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on Friday night to seal their place in the Vodacom SuperRugby playoffs.

They were far from the well-oiled machine coach Gary Gold wanted them to be in their last league game before the knockouts and, for much of the match the bottom-placed Sunwolves actually had the scent of a massive upset win in their nostrils.

The Sharks only led 21-19 at halftime and the advantage was only 28-22 going into the last 10 minutes, before flyhalf Garth April finally made an impact by scoring himself and setting up a first SuperRugby try for replacement fullback Curwin Bosch.

While the Sharks held on to the ball and used their forwards to lay the platform, they looked good and two tries in the first seven minutes came after the pack had driven well.

Tighthead prop Coenie Oosthuizen barrelled over for the opening try and then scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer ran off the base of a maul, centre Andre Esterhuizen stepped outside his marker and went straight through the gap, allowing wing Lwazi Mvovo to have an easy run-in for the second try.

But the Sunwolves then began dominating possession as the Sharks became loose and error-prone. Although they initially struggled to breach the staunch Sharks defence, with nearly 70% of the ball the visitors were able to bend and stretch it with clever play and eventually break through.

Their first try came from a nifty set-piece move as flank Liaki Moli soared high at the back of a split lineout and then passed the ball straight to scrumhalf Kaito Shigeno, who ran straight through the gap to score untouched.

Flyhalf Yu Tamura converted and then, in the 21st minute, he put a clever chip over the defensive line. It was a tricky bouncing ball for fullback Rhyno Smith, but he gathered well and had seen the space, launching a great counter-attack, good hands by forwards and backs getting the ball to captain JP Pietersen, who beat the last man to score the Sharks’ third try.

But battering ram centre Mifiposeti Paea then barged his way over for a try and completed a top-class individual first-half performance by making a fantastic break from his own 22, lock Faatiga Lemalu dotting down from close range after several phases to ensure the Sharks only took a two-point lead into the interval.

The Sharks started the second half like a team with a renewed purpose as Oosthuizen produced a bullocking run and a fabulous offload, hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle providing a slick ball out wide and Esterhuizen a determined finish.

April continued a great run of successful kicks at goal with the conversion to give the Sharks a 28-19 lead, but a Tamura penalty cut that to 28-22 on the hour.

The Sharks made life hard for themselves by not looking after the ball at the breakdown and an anxious last 10 minutes awaited the Kings Park faithful before April made up for all his defensive failings with two moments of magic.

Outside centre Pietersen played a big role in April’s try with a lovely run after the flyhalf’s initial dart before a superb offload back to April, who rode a tackle to get over the line.

April’s precise chip over the top set up Bosch for his try, which would have secured a bonus point for the Sharks were it not for the reaction from the Sunwolves.

April had a kick charged down, leading to a loose ball which went to replacement scrumhalf Yuki Yatomi, who put the Sunwolves on attack with a lovely break, Paea finishing off to take the bonus point away.

But a Sharks team that lacked spark and accuracy scarcely deserved anything more than a scrappy victory.


Sharks: Tries – Coenie Oosthuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, JP Pietersen, Andre Esterhuizen, Garth April, Curwin Bosch. Conversions –April (5).

Sunwolves: Tries – Kaito Shigeno, Mifiposeti Paea (2), Faatiga Lemalu. Conversions – Yu Tamura (3). Penalty – Tamura.

Wood back at Africa Open looking to right ‘injustice’ of 2011 0

Posted on August 26, 2015 by Ken


Lanky Englishman Chris Wood will be back at next week’s Africa Open at East London Golf Club for the first time since 2012 hoping to right what he might feel was the injustice of 2011, when he lost in a three-way playoff with Louis Oosthuizen and Spain’s Manuel Quiros.

Wood fired a four-under-par 68 on the final day to catch Oosthuizen and Quiros. The 18th was the first playoff hole and Wood safely found the fairway with his blind tee-shot, while Oosthuizen hooked his drive left, but the South African was fortunate to have a good lie and then produced a superb approach shot to eight feet of the flag.

Wood’s 25-foot birdie putt looked on course for the cup until it just faded away on the last few rolls, narrowly missing the hole, while Quiros was on the fringe and could not chip in for birdie. So it was Oosthuizen who holed out for birdie and his third European Tour title.

Wood is joined at the co-sanctioned Sunshine Tour/European Tour event by fellow highly-rated Englishmen Oliver Wilson and David Howell, but just to add even more spice to the Africa Open, there is a strong contingent of Frenchmen, their arch-enemies from across the Channel, coming to East London.

Julien Quesne has had a tough start to the year, including the black mark of a disqualification from the Dubai Desert Classic at the start of February, but he is a two-time European Tour winner and a regular visitor to South Africa.

Gregory Bourdy is the man many are tipping for success at the Africa Open as he is the third highest-placed competitor in the Race to Dubai, at 22nd, while Raphael Jacquelin, the father of four children with wife Fanny, is a four-time European Tour winner. He dreamed of playing professional football before having to give that up due to a knee injury when he was 13 and he initially switched to tennis before taking up golf with great success.

In terms of current newsmakers playing at East London Golf Club, none is bigger than Darren Clarke, the former Open champion who has just been named as Europe’s next Ryder Cup captain, while spectators will also get the chance to see one of the future stars of the tour in 21-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero.

Andrew Dodt, fresh off his victory in the Thailand Classic which lifted him to 13th in the Race to Dubai, and Brett Rumford, who grew up in Perth, a city that shares East London’s reputation for being windy, are coming from Down Under.

Jeev Milkha Singh was the trailblazer for Indian golf and has entered the Africa Open, but Shiv Kapur, one of the rising stars who fell in behind him, is the highest-ranked golfer from the sub-continent in action in East London, at 68th in the Race to Dubai and 240th in the world rankings.

Another Asian talent, South Korea’s Jin Jeong, finished tied second in last year’s Joburg Open and the time may have come for the former world number one amateur to claim his second European Tour title.

But it is English golf that is really taking the European Tour by storm this season and, apart from Wood, SA Open champion Andy Sullivan, Wilson and Howell, Robert Dinwiddie had an excellent Africa Open last year, finishing seventh, just two shots off the playoff, and Matthew Nixon had a strong finish over the weekend with rounds of 68 and 67.

Clearly, South African golfers are going to have their work cut out to ensure that the internationals have to wait a little longer for their first Africa Open title.

Grace now feels at home on golf’s greatest stage 0

Posted on November 19, 2014 by Ken

BRANDEN Grace’s Masters debut at Augusta next week will be his fifth appearance in a Major championship, but what is different this time around is that the 24-year-old really feels he belongs on golf’s greatest stage.

In a whirlwind rise to fame, Grace played in the three other Majors last year, finishing in a tie for 51st place at the US Open and tied 77th at the British Open, for which he had previously qualified in 2009, finishing tied 43rd. He missed the cut at the PGA Championship.

Grace began 2012 ranked No265 in the world, but successive wins at the Joburg Open and the Volvo Golf Champions lifted him into the top 100, and victory in the China Open in mid-April ensured his ranking was high enough to make the rest of the Majors that year.

But his ascension was so rapid, Grace felt a little like an outsider needing to prove himself.

This year, having been comfortably ensconced inside the top 40 since his victory last October in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, he feels right at home.

“Obviously I’ve changed a lot, last year made me a better player and person, just in the way I handle myself: even when things aren’t going great, I can find a way to make it happen. Obviously I was disappointed with the last Major and missing the cut, but there was always that little bit of extra pressure last year.

“This year I don’t have to worry, I’m No32 in the world, I can just go out and enjoy myself. I don’t have to worry and think I have to play well, I don’t need to worry about what people think. I’m in a good place,” Grace told BDlive in a teleconference on Tuesday.

Grace is one of eight South Africans in the prestigious Augusta field, joining Tim Clark, George Coetzee, Louis Oosthuizen, Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel, Richard Sterne and Trevor Immelman, and may yet make an even bigger name for himself at America’s most hallowed course.

“The other South Africans are just as excited as me and they think Augusta could suit me because I hit the ball pretty straight, I can shape it a bit and my lob-wedge is good too. I just need to get sharper on my putting so that I don’t worry about the little five- or six-footers you get,” Grace said.

The 2012 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner will be going into the Masters after successive missed cuts at the Houston Open and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but he feels his game is quickly regaining the same levels as in January, when he claimed three top-10 finishes.

“It’s getting back there, even though the last couple of weeks didn’t go to plan. But I’ve made good progress although the scores don’t show that. I’m hitting the ball like I did in January and by Sunday I’ll be ready and then the excitement will hopefully take care of the rest.”

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    James 1:5 - "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."

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