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Ken Borland



Coetzee calls for all-encompassing review, including of him 0

Posted on December 03, 2016 by Ken

 

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee returned to Johannesburg on Monday and said he would accept it if the South African Rugby Union decided to remove him from his post as long as it was part of an all-encompassing review of South African rugby.

Coetzee and the team returned from what the coach termed a “disastrous” tour of Europe without a win, leaving them with just four victories in 12 Tests this year, the worst record since the Springboks lost seven of their eight Tests in 1965.

“In one word, the tour was disastrous. But on the other hand, sometimes you have to go as low as you can go in order to get back up again and I still see a massive opportunity for this team. But we cannot plaster over the cracks, there has to be a proper clean-out of the wounds. There will have to be changes.

“I will be the first to put my hand up and take responsibility, and the players have owned up too, but finger-pointing doesn’t help. We need a good, proper review that addresses all the key areas. My vision and the players’ vision and the franchises’ visions all have to be aligned so that Springbok rugby is of number one importance.

“I am contracted until 2019, and my performance will be discussed in my review. Of course I am disappointed in my performance too. But every coach goes through a tough year and I would rather take it at the beginning. We might not see it now, but this is best for Springbok rugby, I see it as a turning point and if the time is not right for me to be coach, then I will accept that,” Coetzee said at OR Tambo International Airport on Monday.

While Coetzee said he did not want to single out the players, he said poor skill levels and conditioning were the major problems in terms of on-field performance.

The 53-year-old coach also said the pipeline leading to the Springboks, which has previously been the envy of other countries, needed to be streamlined.

“From the schools, through the U21s, all the way to the Springboks, we need to have a hard look at the pipeline. Does it all benefit Springbok rugby? We need to work together as South Africans, doing well in just the Currie Cup or Super Rugby is not good enough.

“The northern hemisphere are doing very well now, it’s no longer the case that we are better than them because they have immense collaboration. It’s the same with the franchises in New Zealand and that’s indicative of where they are now. Collaboration is most important.

“Everyone involved in rugby needs to start working on the 10 most important things to get the Springbok team to perform and put those in place. I have a good idea of what I want to put in place and I’d like to make sure when I leave the post that there is a clear and tangible blueprint for collaboration with the franchise coaches on how we contract players and what we expect from them in terms of conditioning,” Coetzee said.

Retiring captain Adriaan Strauss was similarly apologetic, but said he felt positive that the Springboks would rise again.

“There’s a lot of talent and good players even though it has been a disappointing, challenging year. We’re not in a good space at the moment, and there have been a lot of causes over some time, but I believe it is a good time to address those now. There are a lot of things that have not been spoken openly about before and it has to be a joint effort now to sort those out.

“There are a lot of good decisions and discussions to be made and I believe some good will come out of this. We need to construct a way forward and everyone is accountable from the players up all through the ladder. Everyone has to work together, we need to realise where we are now and make the right decisions now so we can build for the future. I’m very hopeful of the future, there’s lots to be excited about,” Strauss said.

“The year hurts in the way that we feel we have let people down and the supporters have every right to feel let down. But every guy who wears this blazer does their all, they do everything in their power. The Springboks are supposed to be up there with the best, the fans are fully within their rights to demand that, and we haven’t produced that excellence.

“I accepted responsibility when I said yes to the captaincy and it was not the best of years, in fact the records will show it was the worst. I made a lot of mistakes and I apologise for that, it was a learning curve for me. But I’m also proud of a lot of things I did, I always put the Springboks first and in tough times I feel I stood up,” an emotional Strauss said.

“The players must also take responsibility and the coaches as well, we’re all in this together, and SA Rugby as well. I can openly and honestly say that everyone must step up, everyone has made mistakes. We are all responsible and we must all face up together. We can’t be having a pity party.”

While the torment is over for Strauss, coach Coetzee will pray he never has another year like 2016.

“It does test everything as a person, even my faith. But I am still alive and kicking through the grace of God. You do have doubts when things don’t go right, but I believed in my plan and then you feel better when the players and captain give you buy-in every Monday when we start training again,” Coetzee said.

“I can understand the supporters are disappointed, so are we. Many people feel I should stay on and I am confident that I can turn the team around. I’m not the sort of guy to just walk away.”

http://citizen.co.za/sport/sport-rugby/1359769/coetzee-calls-encompassing-review-including/

My question for Heyneke Meyer 0

Posted on November 06, 2015 by Ken

 

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer returns to South Africa this morning and will face the press after a disappointing end to their World Cup campaign; my question to him would be “Why do you think you deserve to continue in your post, what progress has been made over the last four years?”

In my opinion, there has been no real progress. There is no meaningful silverware to show, the good results have been cancelled out by some truly awful results, a world ranking of three is nothing to shout about, and, as clearly shown in the dour win over Argentina in the third-place playoff, Meyer cannot even say the game plan has evolved under his watch. And he continues to cause outrage when it comes to transformation – his treatment of Rudi Paige, Lwazi Mvovo and Siya Kolisi showing that he just doesn’t get it when it comes to that vital issue.

Meyer is an honourable man, as passionate as anyone when it comes to Springbok rugby, and he says he wants to be part of the solution that will fix the problems. But in my eyes he is part of the problem; his emotional excesses and fear of losing rub off on the team. The Springboks have not shown the ability to adapt to what is happening on the field, they are too stuck in a rigid game plan.

Watching New Zealand deservedly win the World Cup final clearly showed the direction the Springboks should be going. The All Blacks are peerless when it comes to vision and adaptability on the rugby field and it was surely destiny that Dan Carter would be man of the match in winning the World Cup final.

Meyer seemed to be heading in the right direction in 2013 and 2014 when he tried a more up-tempo, ball-in-hand approach; two epic Tests against the All Blacks resulted and Ellis Park was sold out as she hosted two of the best games of rugby I have witnessed.

But the coach failed to build on those performances, losing his nerve in this World Cup year and retreating back into a conservative, unambitious game plan that was easy to counter. Losing to Japan was bad enough, but the Springboks had the added ignominy of being called “anti-rugby” and being as boring as Argentina were when they first joined the Rugby Championship in 2012.

The fact that his team struggled to beat an Argentina side missing nine first-choice players last weekend rams home that Meyer has not added anything to the Springboks. Replacing him at the helm of a team that clearly needs renewing, especially in terms of strategy, is the only sensible option because Meyer has shown that he cannot take the team forward.

On a positive note, a big high-five to the England Rugby Union for hosting a top-class World Cup. A pleasing feature of the tournament was the improvement shown by the minnows: apart from Japan’s incredible heroics, there were also no massive hidings as rugby showed it is a truly global game.

Even the referees, who are under the harshest lens, stepped up and, barring one or two mishaps, the officiating was of a high standard, helped by a greater reliance on the TMO.

 

Grace laughs off ‘iffy round’ as chasing pack catch him 0

Posted on February 16, 2015 by Ken

Alfred Dunhill Championship leader Branden Grace could only post a level-par 72 on Saturday as the chasing pack all but caught him at Leopard Creek, but the South African laughed it off as an “iffy round”.

Grace was five shots ahead after rounds of 62 and 66, but while Saturday’s third round was a struggle for him, it was a joyous breeze for golfers like Lucas Bjerregaard and the in-form Danny Willett.

Bjerregaard started the third round seven shots off the pace but is now in a fine position to continue the recent success of Danish golfers in South Africa, firing a marvellous six-under-par 66 to finish on 15-under, just one stroke behind Grace.

Willett also had an outstanding round, with three birdies on the front nine and four on the back, his only blemish being a double-bogey six on the ninth, as he leapt into third place on 14-under.

Francesco Molinari, in second place overnight, was two under through 10 holes, but he was cowed by the back nine, unable to pick up another shot and was overtaken by Bjerregaard and Willett.

The highlight of the day was Bjerregaard’s roaring finish, the 23-year-old coming in with three successive birdies, following an eagle on the famous par-five 13th.

“It’s a great position to be in and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. After seven or eight holes it definitely didn’t look like I was going to be in this position, so it was nice to turn things around and play a really solid back nine,” Bjerregaard said.

Grace, in contrast, bogeyed the 17th and had to save par on the 18th to limp home, but he was still in good spirits at the end of a tough day. Overcast conditions meant the usual blistering Lowveld heat was absent, but the golfers had to contend with the wind picking up and the ball not travelling as far in the cooler temperatures.

“It was a tough day, but I didn’t play too badly, I wouldn’t call it a bad round. It’s not as if I’m going to the range to try and find something, there’s not much I need to work on. I’ll take the positives into the final round, I’m still ahead and I’ll come with a positive frame of mind tomorrow [Sunday].

“I’m still hitting the ball well, I just need to make better decisions. You always expect one iffy round in a tournament and if that was it then I’m alright with it,” Grace said after an up-and-down round with four bogeys and four birdies.

Bjerregaard actually started his round with a bogey to immediately fall eight shots behind the leader, but there was little fuss from the tall, muscular golfer as he went out in 35 with two birdies and one more dropped shot, before catching fire on the back nine. Blessed with a hot putter, he made hay while the sun didn’t shine.

“I putted really well. Made good ones on 16 and 17, both were about six metres. I didn’t make any really long ones, but I made some good par putts on the front nine, a couple of six-footers to make par and keep things going,” he said.

The strangely cool weather looks set to give way to a typical scorcher in Malelane on Sunday and, while Grace has led wire-to-wire thus far, the threat is writ large from several golfers below him.

Even the little-known Englishman Andrew Johnston is in the mix after he eagled the 18th to complete a 68 that put him on 12-under.

Louis Oosthuizen also eagled the last hole after a magnificent seven-iron to five feet and he is also not out of the running on 10-under-par after a 68.

http://citizen.co.za/292937/grace-post-level-par-72-alfred-dunhill-championship/

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