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Ken Borland

For now, Hoskins just wants to talk about the good times 0

Posted on September 03, 2016 by Ken


South African rugby followers are going to hear more from outgoing president Oregan Hoskins when the time is right, he said, but for now he wants to dwell on the positives of his 10-year term which ended when he stood down earlier this month.

‘I have always been truthful and I will talk, but it’s just a question of timing. There are legal issues that mean I can’t say anything now, but once I am not beholden to anyone then I will speak,” Hoskins told Saturday Citizen.

“You can never please everybody as president, but there are some great memories, from being the first person of colour to become president, spending a weekend in Bloemfontein with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, being a director of the Rugby World Cup and living in the houses of friends all over South Africa, rather than staying in hotels. It was an opportunity to get to know South Africans of all colours and creeds and there are unbelievable memories,” Hoskins said.

Transformation and the structure of the game are two issues still bedevilling South African rugby, with Hoskins saying progress had been made in the former.

“I’ve seen transformation happen at all levels, I’ve seen it in the supporters and it makes me so proud, that was a victory for me. Ten years ago there were lots of questions about the national team, but now it is less of a big issue. The major stakeholders, government and sponsors need to jointly govern transformation.

“There’s no doubt the structure of South African rugby is totally flawed and we are still a long way off getting it right. Many of our efforts don’t grow because of the poor system and until there is total equity ownership of all rugby entities from clubs to franchises, it’s going to be very difficult to satisfy the political demands rugby faces,” Hoskins said.

Tendai Mtawarira will equal Os du Randt’s record for the most capped Springbok prop on Saturday in Argentina, but Hoskins remembers him in tears in his house in 2009 when his Test career was still at a fledgling stage.

“I’ll never forget a young Beast walking into my house in Westville in tears because Makhenkesi Stofile had phoned and said he can’t play for the Springboks anymore because he wasn’t a South African citizen. Beast was broken and I made it my duty to make sure he played for the Springboks. I got to meet Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, then at Home Affairs, and pleaded with her and she gave Beast citizenship there and then, so he became a Springbok again,” Hoskins recalled.

Helping to bring stability in the Springbok coaching position will also be a lasting legacy of Hoskins’.

Helping to grow rugby in Africa will be Hoskins’ focus in the game for the time being, with a shipment of kit on its way to the Democratic Republic of the Congo thanks to his efforts already.

Foreigner coach idea not discounted by Saru, but Coetzee still favourite 0

Posted on December 05, 2015 by Ken


The idea that a foreigner could succeed Heyneke Meyer as the coach of the Springboks was not discounted by South African Rugby Union (Saru) president Oregan Hoskins on Friday, but a strengthened emphasis on transformation means Allister Coetzee surely remains the hot favourite to take over the poisoned chalice.

Meyer’s dignified exit from the role means Saru have a week in which to hunt down his successor and, with former Stormers coach Coetzee and current Lions mastermind Johan Ackermann the only realistic local candidates, speculation has been rife that the Springboks might have their first overseas coach.

“Yes, a foreigner is an option. We shouldn’t rule out anyone because we want best for South Africa, so we have to consider all the possibilities. There were 13 foreign coaches in charge at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, that’s the way things are going in rugby,” Hoskins said at Saru House in Cape Town on Friday as he addressed media about the Springbok coaching position.

John Plumtree and John Mitchell are the leading candidates in terms of overseas-born coaches, with both of them having led South African franchises in SuperRugby.

But Mitchell is likely to have a long list of demands – such as a four-year contract and being able to choose his own support team – which has been a sticking point in his negotiations to take over the Stormers coaching role.

Plumtree coached the Sharks for four years from 2008, winning two Currie Cup titles but generally under-performing in SuperRugby. Following his dismissal by the Sharks, the New Zealander became the Ireland forwards coach, before joining the successful Hurricanes side as an assistant in this year’s SuperRugby competition.

Former All Black Wayne Smith, a visonary attack coach for New Zealand’s 2011 and 2015 World Cup triumphs, has also been mentioned as a candidate but, like Mitchell and Plumtree, he would appear to be more likely to be involved as an assistant.

Coetzee, the backline coach in the Springboks’ 2007 World Cup win, has always been the favourite to succeed Meyer, having controversially lost out in 2008 when Peter de Villiers was appointed, but what has certainly caused his stock to rise were Hoskins’ comments that transformation would be a priority for the next coach of the national team.

“For the next four years, transformation will be key for us – we signed an agreement with Sascoc and the government. It has been Saru’s policy that the leadership doesn’t interfere in team selection, but we might have to look at that. It’s very difficult to have Saru interfering in team selection, but if policy is not implemented, then we would address that discreetly and find solutions. Anybody applying for Bok coach needs to know transformation is at the top of the agenda – otherwise don’t apply,” Hoskins said.

An overseas coach would probably struggle with the implementation of such transformation policy, while it is an area in which Coetzee, a former scrumhalf star in non-racial rugby, excelled during his time in Cape Town, while still guiding them to four appearances in the SuperRugby knockout phase as well as two Currie Cup titles.

Other favourites of the South African rugby public are Nick Mallett, who has however said he does not want to return to coaching, Robbie Deans, who, like Coetzee is currently coaching in Japan, and Ackermann.

The viewpoint of those involved in making the decision, however, would seem to be that Ackermann needs to gain more experience and win trophies with the Lions over the next four years.

Coetzee as head coach with a high-profile overseas assistant, and the involvement of Saru rugby general manager Rassie Erasmus, would appear to be what the governing body are currently angling for ahead of the expected announcement of the new Springbok management next Friday.



Sam makes trumpet call against bloated sports department 0

Posted on May 18, 2015 by Ken


Sascoc president Gideon Sam has made a trumpet call for Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula to forge a more efficient administration in the fight for sporting transformation.

Sam, speaking at the Highveld Lions awards dinner this week, said Mbalula was presiding over a bloated administration that was deflecting money away from the effort to clear “historical backlogs” in sport.

“The minister of sport has a very small budget, hardly a billion rand, and that’s for his administration too. Each minister of sport inherits a huge staff and, because of the power of the unions, he dare not touch that staff. I compare it to Sascoc and I wonder why there are so many people in the department of sport and recreation? It has to be asked. It’s very hard for the minister to work people out and usually he brings in more of his own people as well.

“Politicians want to use sport for ‘social cohesion’, but that phrase is not in my dictionary. How can sport, which is so impoverished, do that? The truth is, if you really go into it, South African sport is not structured correctly. We’re not giving impoverished sportspeople, black and white, a fair chance,” Sam said.

Sam suggested the debate over World Cup selection was “deliberate, to try and throw stones at the administration and it takes us nowhere”, but he did acknowledge that there was growing frustration at much of the bureaucracy that surrounds transformation and funding.

“The federations apply, they fill in all those forms and they don’t even get an acknowledgement so they get fed up with the battle. Why should they concern themselves with transformation policy when they have to foot the bill themselves?”

The Sascoc president said the club player who could “afford a plane ticket and the price of accommodation in a hotel” was always going to make a team ahead of competitors who could not afford to travel to tournaments.


Namibian rugby restored to its former health 0

Posted on December 18, 2014 by Ken

Restoring Namibian rugby to its former health was the key project for union president Bradley Basson and chief executive Sybrand de Beer in 2014 and their success off the field was mirrored on the park by coach Danie Vermeulen steering the side to World Cup qualification.

On July 6 in the Africa Cup CAR Division 1 qualifier in Antananarivo, Namibia scored an emphatic 89-10 victory over Madagascar to sneak ahead of Zimbabwe and Kenya on points difference and into their fifth successive World Cup, where they will take on the mighty All Blacks as well as Argentina, Tonga and Georgia in Pool C.

Just eight days earlier, Namibia’s campaign looked set to end in tears of sadness as a shock 29-22 defeat at the hands of Kenya left their hopes of qualifying for the 2015 World Cup hanging by the slimmest of threads.

But by 5pm on July 6, the Namibian rugby team were crying tears of joy at the Mahamasina Stadium as their extraordinary victory over the hosts had booked their spot in England 2015.

Following that opening-day loss, just their second against the East Africans since 2006, results had fallen Namibia’s way to keep their hopes alive. The Welwitschias beat Zimbabwe 24-20 to stay in contention, while their fellow Southern Africans did them a favour by overcoming Kenya 28-10 on the final day.

Crucially, neither Zimbabwe nor Kenya managed to get a bonus point in that match, which left Namibia needing to beat Madagascar by 53 points to qualify for the finals of the global showpiece.

“We were down in the dumps up to the last day, but we just believed until the very end. We had the will to keep on fighting until our last breath, until all 15 of us had to be carried off the field if necessary,” flank Tinus du Plessis said after the triumph.

“We had a massive points difference to work on, so we just planned to take it 10 minutes at a time. It’s amazing to think that we’ll now be playing our first match against the All Blacks!” the London Wasps player said.

For Zimbabwe, who showed encouraging improvement through the year, there was a second chance in the form of the repechage, but they went down 15-23 to Russia in Krasnoyarsk.

Director of Rugby Liam Middleton left for Canada shortly thereafter and by mid-November there was yet to be a taker to replace him. But the Sables enjoyed something of a renaissance in 2014, boosted by the presence of former Natal Sharks and Lions SuperRugby flyhalf Guy Cronje.

Kenya will look back on their year with some frustration as they struggled with consistency. They managed to beat Namibia, but lost to Zimbabwe; they lost 14-21 to Uganda, only to beat the same team 34-0 the next weekend.

They will need to develop more consistency – which will come with playing more often – if they are to follow their Sevens team up the world rankings. Under the guidance of former Western Province loose forward Jerome Paarwater, they also competed in the Vodacom Cup, which was a valuable exercise for them.

They will also need to clear their team of doping allegations that were made by a Kenyan governmental task force.

While playing enough internationals is always a challenge for the African sides, Namibia have been able to fill their calendar ahead of the World Cup, playing Germany, Canada, the French Barbarians and Portugal after returning from their Madagascan triumph.

The last three games were on an invaluable year-end tour to Europe, giving the Welwitschia’s the chance to experience Northern Hemisphere conditions ahead of the World Cup and test their depth.

Namibia also hope to be invited to the IRB Nations Cup in Romania as African champions, which could result in another four matches, while home Tests against Zimbabwe and Kenya are also planned for 2015.

The Namibian Rugby Union are also in talks with SARU about their possible participation in the Vodacom Cup in the first half of 2015.

Germany were comfortably beaten, 58-20, in Windhoek, in a match that marked Free State Cheetahs hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld’s first game in Namibian colours.

Vermeulen was able to call on a dozen overseas-based players through the year, with Pumas flank Renaldo Bothma (recently signed by the Sharks) outstanding in the World Cup qualifier in Madagascar, while Jacques Burger, the stoical grafter of the Saracens loose trio, played for Namibia for the first time since September 2011 when he led the team against Canada at Colwyn Bay in northern Wales.

Fullback Chrysander Botha, who played SuperRugby for the Lions and was then signed by the Exeter Chiefs, was one of the stars of the backline before his year ended with a broken leg in the 13-17 loss to Canada.

The likes of flank Rohan Kitshoff and prop Jaco Engels, both stalwarts of the South African domestic scene, also added their experience and quality to the Welwitschias.

The dissent which plagued Namibian rugby around the time of the previous World Cup is now in the past.

“Rugby in Namibia was quite badly hit in 2011 when the exco resigned and technically we were insolvent. But the latest financial statements have been declared clean and passed without any qualifications and there is good governance and the basic foundation in place. We are now back to concentrating on rugby,” De Beer said.

An IRB report also praised Namibian rugby, saying: “Governance, administration and finances can be used as an example for many unions in the world “.

The IRB’s regional manager for Africa, Jean-Luc Barthes, said in his report that “I met responsible and very professional people who want to properly manage their activities and make rugby the number one sport in the country.“

The plaudits kept coming when they were named sports team of the year, Vermeulen won coach of the year and De Beer administrator of the year at the Namibian Sports Commission Annual Awards.

To add to the feel-good factor, the U19 team won the Confederation of African Rugby’s tournament hosted in Windhoek in September to qualify for the IRB Junior Trophy competition in Portugal in 2015.


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