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Ken Borland



Sanzar’s SuperRugby Christmas present is likely to be meh 0

Posted on February 20, 2017 by Ken

 

Rugby fans who have had enough of the current fatigue-inducing set-up will be eagerly anticipating Christmas and the expected announcement by Sanzar of a new SuperRugby format from 2016. But what they find in their stocking might still leave them unimpressed because Sanzar are unlikely to go the most obvious route of two pools of nine, eight matches home and away and semi-finals and a final.

Because the Southern Kings had such a dramatic impact on rugby in the Eastern Cape, certainly in terms of crowd figures, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) seem to have accepted that they can no longer leave such a massive region out in the cold even though they lost the promotion/relegation series to the Lions. And Argentina, full Sanzar partners now, look set to be rewarded with a place in SuperRugby as well, expanding the competition to 17 teams. Judging by the noises coming out of New Zealand and Australia, some sort of Japanese involvement is also being strongly considered to make it an even 18.

But the same Australian demands that impacted so heavily on the previous broadcasting agreement, which brings in all the money and therefore decides the format, seem set to ensure common sense does not apply. In order to sustain the ailing code of rugby union in Australia, they want their own conference, even if they have to share it with some New Zealand teams.

So the three proposals that Sanzar are considering are to keep the status quo (yes, many stakeholders, most of them living on a big island, actually think the current format is great), to split into South African and Australasian conferences, or to expand the competition even more and include other Asian teams, and the USA and Canada as well.

It would appear the two-conference system has been most positively received by Saru, and hopefully their negotiators will show much more skill when Sanzar meet in Sydney next week than the muppets who negotiated the previous deal. That could mean six South African franchises, which play each other home and away, making 10 fixtures. If the Australasian conference is split into two pools, with Japan in one and Argentina in the other, then they, too, could play 10 round-robin matches. The idea is then for the top six or eight teams across the conferences to play in the finals. If six teams go through and play each other, that’s five more matches. A semi-final and a final would then mean a maximum of 17 games per team – much cleaner, much simpler and less of a slog than SuperRugby is at the moment for all concerned.

What is vital is that Sanzar consult the players, on whom they rely to sell their product. There is a strong suggestion that the current exodus of players from the southern hemisphere to Europe is not just because of the power of the euro, but also because they are on their last legs due to the unceasing intensity and quantity of rugby Sanzar has foisted on them.

Bulls captain Pierre Spies, one of many on the injured list after the prolonged SuperRugby campaign, is pegging his hopes on change. “I’d really like to see the competition end before the international season. That three-week break for the internationals in June is a waste. I’d like to see all the focus on SuperRugby, get that done with and then give all the teams three or four weeks to prepare for the Tests. We could then finish the Rugby Championship at the end of October and either go back to our franchises or prepare for the end-of-year tour. I’d prefer there to be one global schedule and to finish SuperRugby in one go. That would also give all the teams one extra bye,” Spies told Daily Maverick on Thursday.

There does seem to be growing agreement on the sense of having one global rugby season. The International Rugby Players’ Association has come out in favour of it and even Sanzar CEO Greg Peters has said it makes sense. “The idea of moving June to July, in a Sanzar context, certainly holds a lot of appeal, for a lot of reasons,” Peters told The Herald Sun. “We could complete the SuperRugby season without a break, which is something in an ideal world we would want to do. Then you would move straight into the international program, have a short break, the Rugby Championship, short break, and then the Spring Tours. We would certainly be interested in sitting down with the northern unions and getting their views about whether it would work. And obviously we are interested in the views of the players’ associations as well.”

The Currie Cup Premier Division also looks set to change, with a new eight team format apparently agreed to in principle by the Saru executive committee, just two years after they went to great lengths to justify a cut to six teams. The phrase “political expediency” immediately springs to mind, but the thought of the Kings and the Pumas, who have dominated the First Division in recent times and are based in the rapidly-growing centre of Nelspruit, competing at the top table does have appeal.

The administrators sit in the boardrooms and make the decisions over lavish lunches, changing tune according to their own vested interests, but it is the players who have to go out, put their bodies on the line, and make these formats work.

“I’ve only been playing SuperRugby for six years and I’m struggling to get on the field now,” says Springbok star Francois Steyn, who has been out of action since May after two operations for compartment syndrome in the leg – an over-use injury.

“In South African rugby, we all worry about saying something wrong and stepping on someone’s toes, so I should probably keep my mouth shut. But it’s all about bringing the fans out and less rugby is probably better. Then the top players can play for longer. At this rate, if you play for 10 years, you’re a lucky guy.”

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-08-30-quo-vadis-superrugby/#.WKrl_2997IU

Stellar second day for Southern Gauteng teams 0

Posted on April 27, 2016 by Ken

 

Hosts Southern Gauteng enjoyed a stellar second day in the Greenfields Senior Interprovincial Nationals at the Randburg Hockey Stadium on Tuesday as both their men’s and women’s teams claimed pole position in their pools after posting their second successive wins.

The Southern Gauteng women’s team, the defending champions, produced a top-class 7-0 demolition of Free State, Lisa-Mari Deetlefs and Bernie Coston both scoring twice, while the men emerged with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Northerns in a fractious game that ended a day that was interrupted for over an hour by a thunderstorm.

They had to come back from a 1-0 deficit after a short-corner goal by Matthew Guise-Brown, and Brad Venter produced an equaliser on the stroke of halftime before Southern Gauteng won a penalty stroke as Guise-Brown hacked Julian Hykes’s stick from behind in the circle, allowing Gareth Heyns to flick high into the net for an excellent winner.

Last year’s finalists may yet be caught at the top of their pool if their B side, Wits, can beat Northerns on Wednesday and Southern Gauteng fail to see off Eastern Province.

Eastern Province, who beat Northerns 4-3 on the opening day, went down 1-2 to Wits on Tuesday as Nic Gonsalves scored a brace, the first coming via a field goal in the 19th minute and the second from a brilliantly-worked short-corner option in the 22nd.

The deficit was cut by a Cody van Wyk field goal, but his Eastern Province side were unable to find a way through again.

Pool A in the men’s A Section is developing into an epic contest as Tuffy Western Province, the defending champions, slipped down into third place after losing to the SA U21s, while the KZN Raiders, who drew with the junior internationals on the first day, joined them at the top of the standings with a comfortable 6-1 win over Free State.

Free State provided some anxious times early on for the KZN Raiders, but it was only a moment of brevity as the KwaZulu-Natalians roared to victory.

Free State started strongly and so nearly claimed the first goal when Dylan Swanepoel rocketed a short-corner drag-flick off the post in the second minute. But gradually the competitiveness of the Free Staters waned and the KZN Raiders in the end put together a very good performance.

They opened the scoring in the eighth minute when a fine cross by Mohammed Mea was expertly met and deflected into goal by Travis Hardnick.

The rest of the first half went well for KZN as they added two more impressive goals. Stephen Wiggett showed the talents of an ace goal-poacher as he seemed to have so much time to rob the ball off a defender’s stick and slam it into the goal all in one stroke for the Raiders’ second goal, and Jethro Eustice, who did invaluable work in midfield, then flicked home well from a short-corner to make it 3-0 after 20 minutes.

Daniel Sibbald was inches away from scoring the goal of the tournament thus far when his reverse-sticks shot came off the post, the international having started the move just outside his own 25 with a superb run.

But the third quarter was a better one for Free State as they pulled a goal back through Darren Kamfer, before normal service was resumed in the final quarter and KZN Raiders scored three more goals.

Ross Hetem set up and finished the first with a fine overhead across the circle to Jarryd Jones, who cut back and then passed back to Hetem, who slotted home a good reverse-sticks finish.

Jones scored the last goal on the final hooter, with a slap high into the net after a short-corner, with Wiggett getting his second goal five minutes earlier with a well-struck angled shot.

The SA U21s had little respect for their heroes of yore in the Western Province side, denting their ambitions in a 3-2 victory.

Ryan Crowe handed SA U21 the lead with a field goal, before Western Province struck back thanks to an Austin Smith drag-flick from a penalty corner.

There was a break in play as thundershowers led to a waterlogged astroturf, pushing the remainder of the day’s games back, but play eventually resumed with the sides locked at 1-1.

Another field goal, this time by Khumo Mokale, helped SA U21 regain the lead, before a penalty stroke in the 40th minute from Kyle Lion-Cachet sealed the victory, although Western Province managed to close the gap with four minutes to play as Smith added another from a short corner.

The Tuffy Western Province women’s side provided more ill news for the Cape as they drew 1-1 with Northerns Blues.

The early exchanges were dominated by Northerns as they created a number of chances and pressured the Western Province defence. Had it not been for Nicole le Fleur they may have been down a goal early on with the goalkeeper keeping out a Jacinta Jubb effort from a penalty corner in the ninth minute.

But Jubb managed to break the deadlock two minutes before halftime with a powerful poke from a short corner hurtling into the backboard.

But the lead was short-lived as Western Province struck back through Anche Nortje, and while both sides fought hard for the lead in the third and fourth quarters, the goals never came. It was made worse by the fact that both sides were left to rue a number of missed short-corner opportunities.

The North-West women’s team showed that they will be coming hard at Southern Gauteng when they meet on Wednesday with a comfortable 4-1 win over the SA U21s, two of their goals coming from Lori Hyde.

Results

Men’s A Section: KZN Raiders 6 (Travis Hardnick, Stephen Wiggett [2], Jethro Eustice, Ross Hetem, Jarryd Jones) Free State 1 (Darren Kamfer); Eastern Province 1 (Cody van Wyk) Wits 2 (Nicolas Gonsalves [2]); Tuffy Western Province 2 (Austin Smith [2]) SA U21 3 (Ryan Crowe, Khumo Mokale, Kyle Lion-Cachet); Southern Gauteng 2 (Brad Venter, Gareth Heyns) Northerns Blues 1 (Matthew Guise-Brown).

Women’s A Section: North-West 4 (Sulette Damons, Lori Hyde [2], Sinalo Jafta) SA U21 1 (Nomnikelo Veto); Southern Gauteng 7 (Lisa-Mari Deetlefs [2], Robyn Johnson, Bernadette Coston [2], Taryn Mallett, Lisa Hawker) Free State 0; Tuffy Western Province 1 (Anche Nortje) Northerns Blues 1 (Jacinta Jubb); Spar KZN Raiders 3 (Chiree Coetzee, Sarah Bingham, Kara-Lee Stella) Wits 0.

Men’s B Section: Northerns B 2 (Michael Hesse, Michael Seal) Eastern Gauteng 2 (Grant Robins, Brandon Crockett); SA Country Districts 2 (Henry Cock, Keith Stainbank) Zimbabwe 3 (Phillip Machaya, Tendayi Maredza, Luckson Sikisa); KZN Inland 0 KZN Mynahs 5 (Dale van der Merwe [3], Richard Pentecost, Tanner Bottomley); WP Peninsula 4 (Warren McEwan [2], Luthando Jonas, Cameron Ryan) North-West 3 (Gertjie Lambrecht, Wayne Jeffery, Essex Mbekeni).

Women’s B Section: WP Peninsula 8 ( Nicole Bartsch [2], Georgia Moir, Simone Strydom, Rosanne Lombard, Georgia Grobler, Aimee Pote, Robyn Pinder) SA Country Districts 1 (Robyn Morgan); Southern Gauteng Nuggets 0 Northerns B 3 (Anneke Avent, Janie Porteous, Chanel Dippenaar); Mpumalanga 1 (Shannia-Lee Swart) Zimbabwe 4 (Michelle Williams [2], Iman Johnson, Nicola Watson); KZN Mynahs 5 (Carla van Niekerk [2], Pamela Daniel [2], Jamie Chisholm) KZN Inland 2 (Silindile Mbhele, Tiffany Jones).

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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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