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Ken Borland



Last rites for sad Bulls with Matfield last link to glory days 0

Posted on December 14, 2016 by Ken

 

The Bulls will complete another sad SuperRugby campaign in Pretoria today against the Cheetahs and, by the end of the game, Victor Matfield could be the last person remaining at Loftus Versfeld with any link to the glory days of 2007-2010 when they won the competition three times in four years.

The Bulls confirmed yesterday that the match against the Cheetahs will be the last for captain Pierre Spies and flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter as they join the overseas exodus of players that will also include Jacques du Plessis, Flip van der Merwe and Akona Ndungane, while Francois Hougaard is heading for Japan but negotiations are underway for him to return for next year’s SuperRugby tournament.

Matfield is not playing against the Cheetahs because he is being rested as per the agreement with the Springbok management, but he has already announced that his playing days will be over after the World Cup.

But the veteran lock is bound to be back at Loftus Versfeld in the new year because he is the favourite to replace Frans Ludeke as coach. The man who was behind the 2009 and 2010 wins faced the Bulls board yesterday in a last-ditch attempt to save his job, but unless there was a late change in heart, Ludeke is also on his way out.

So there will be a sombre mood at Loftus Versfeld tonight, made worse by the knowledge that even a Bulls victory will do little to change their fortunes in another season that has fallen way short of expectations.

At least the rugby on offer could provide some entertainment.

New Cheetahs coach Franco Smith is preaching an expansive, linking style of play, while Spies has stressed how determined the Bulls are to end on a high.

“There’s plenty of motivation because we want to end on a high. If we can get five points and finish in the top eight on the log then the picture looks a bit better. We want to play a good attacking brand of rugby and hold on to the ball for a few more phases. There should be plenty of broken-field play and the Cheetahs love that as well,” Spies said.

Putting their bodies on the line in defence is probably not going to rank too high on either side’s list of priorities, but the Bulls should have a slight edge in motivation as they look to avoid a third defeat on home soil this season.

 

No dancing around the issue for odd-one-out Morkel 0

Posted on November 09, 2016 by Ken

 

A lesser player or person might have danced around the issue, but Titans T20 captain Albie Morkel was forthright on Tuesday about himself being the odd one out as his team defend their title in the shortest format of the game, starting with their derby clash with double-header hosts the Lions at the Wanderers on Saturday.

Because Morkel is only available for limited-overs cricket for the Titans, he has not been part of the side that has put a poor start in the Sunfoil Series behind them and climbed to the top of the four-day log at the halfway stage. So he is acutely aware that while he will be leading an in-form group of players into battle this weekend, his own form has yet to be tested.

“Having a winning team definitely helps and it doesn’t matter which format it’s been in. In T20, one guy can win a game on the night, but the team with the most in-form players will win the competition. So the four-day games have provided nice momentum, lots of guys have made big contributions.

“So we don’t have to hide anyone, we’re not trying to fill any gaps, all the guys have performed on the field in recent weeks. If you’re out of form in T20 cricket, you get exposed very quickly,” Morkel said on Tuesday at the announcement that Multiply would be the franchise’s team sponsor in the CSA T20 Slam.

“But I’m the one guy who’s had an extended holiday. The challenge has been to stay fit, so I played a bit of club cricket, although that’s not at the same intensity. So this week I’ll make sure I get some good practice in, match-sharpness is the key, and I can also fall back on experience to an extent,” the all-rounder added.

Last season the Titans went on a record-breaking eight-match winning streak to top the log and then win the final they hosted against the Dolphins, but life could be a bit harder for them this time around, certainly in the initial stages of the competition.

“We have almost a completely different team, last season we had Quinton de Kock scoring over 400 runs on his own and Chris Morris and Tabraiz Shamsi making it very hard to chase down our scores. Those guys won games on their own and we’ve also lost someone like Graeme van Buuren, who did very well too, and Mangaliso Mosehle.

“So we need to find our combinations quickly, even though there are a few older guys still around, that’s no guarantee for success. We’re starting from scratch again and we’ll definitely have to bowl smarter. But we’re still a strong team, we’ll look at Aiden Markram up front, he’s a bit of an unknown factor in T20, and our middle and lower-order is very strong with myself, David Wiese, Qaasim Adams and Farhaan Behardien all coming in back-to-back. We can really take on attacks if we get good starts,” Morkel said.

Meyiwa’s tragic death had a whole tawdry extra layer 0

Posted on December 11, 2014 by Ken

 

I never met Senzo Meyiwa or dealt with him, but by all accounts he was a wonderful human being and obviously a very talented footballer. A person being cut down before their prime, especially in such violent, totally senseless circumstances, is always a great tragedy.

But this crime had a whole extra layer of circumstances surrounding it, in the form of Meyiwa, married with a child, being murdered at his girlfriend’s house, with whom he has another child.

While I unreservedly mourn the death of Senzo, a thought occurred to me while I considered the tawdry situation – imagine if this had happened to one of our other national captains. Imagine if Jean de Villiers or Hashim Amla, both married, were actively pursuing an adulterous relationship and had children outside of marriage. What would the reaction be?

Top-class sport is all about discipline and many coaches will tell you that a player who is ill-disciplined off the field will struggle to be disciplined on it.

However much of a hero Meyiwa was on the football field, it is yet another moral failure of our country to not recognise that this was a person who broke his marriage vows, humiliated his wife and tore apart his family.

Whether or not Senzo planned to marry Kelly Khumalo, either his son by her or his daughter with wife Mandisa Mkhize were going to grow up without the regular influence of a father in their lives. There are numerous studies that point to the negative influence an absentee father has on children’s education, future relationships and even their ability to function properly in society. I would wager that the thugs that conspired to take Meyiwa’s life are, ironically, from fatherless families themselves.

And before people point to culture and say it was acceptable for Meyiwa to have his bit on the side, may I point out that many black commentators I have read are terribly disappointed by his behaviour.

If we as humans use “culture” as an excuse to propagate destructive behaviour then we are never going to progress. Such evils as slavery and Apartheid were considered culturally acceptable as well, and the oppression of women is still practised in many cultures around the world.

There seems to be a double standard at play here. If it had been revealed during Oscar Pistorius’s court case that he had been cheating on girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, the public would probably have clamoured for him to get capital punishment!

Not all top-class sportsmen are saints and I’m sure if we had all the information about our national heroes we would be shocked, but perhaps Bafana Bafana can take a leaf out of cricket’s book where the ProteaFire campaign is as much about how Amla’s world number one team performs on the field as about how they behave off it.

 

 

 



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