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Ken Borland



SA rugby needs decency more than anything else 0

Posted on January 12, 2017 by Ken

 

In terms of rugby, the New Year is all about finding answers to the question “What is wrong with South African rugby?”, but two incidents in the last month show that, perhaps more than anything else, some of our players and administrators have to ditch their self-serving attitudes and get back to the old values of the game that were rooted in common decency and humility.

The recent actions of the Western Province Rugby Football Union and current Springbok player Johan Goosen suggest the problems are more about individuals being rotten to the core rather than structural issues.

Let’s start with Goosen and I’m not going to say anything more about his on-field performance than my feeling he has flattered to deceive, although the fact that he never had a start at flyhalf is a mitigating factor.

But his tawdry actions in trying to get out of a lucrative contract with Racing Metro, that he only signed a few months ago and that netted him €500 000 a year until 2020, indicate this is a man of scant integrity and someone who clearly does not put team ahead of self.

A couple of weeks ago Goosen announced his retirement from rugby at the age of just 24, following one of his more injury-free years and his return to international rugby, saying he was going to become commercial director of a Free State based agricultural company.

Of course no one is really going to believe that and his name has since appeared on a Cheetahs training squad list and it has since been said that Goosen is ultimately going to Gloucester, once Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad becomes the English club’s majority shareholder.

With flagrant disregard for any ethical considerations, Goosen has taken advantage of a loophole in French labour law which makes all fixed-term rugby contracts temporary. Hence a player can be released from his contract without penalty if he finds fulltime employment – ostensibly Goosen’s dubious “commercial director” job.

The actions of Western Province rugby are just as cynical and what little faith their loyal supporters had in their administrators must now have almost totally dissipated.

They had applied for liquidation of the business arm of WP Rugby and then, just a day after that was granted by the Cape High Court, the Western Province Rugby Football Union announced that the insolvent company had been bought by one of their other companies.

Having put Western Province rugby into financial strife, the likes of president Thelo Wakefield and CEO Paul Zacks are glibly trying to slip through a loophole in thoroughly dishonourable fashion to evade their creditors, most notably with sponsorship company Aerios.

And these are the calibre of administrators that have been put in charge of one of the most legendary brands in rugby?!

Goosen has surely played his last game in the Green and Gold because people of such deviousness really should not be representing our country. He should also not be allowed to play Super Rugby and the Springbok coach must ensure his players will make the nation proud, not embarrass us on an international stage; the good of the game must come before the avaricious accumulation of individual wealth.

Wakefield must also surely fall on his sword. This is not some village rugby team he is mishandling, but one of the proudest rugby legacies in the world, whose fans should be feeling deeply humiliated.

The best way to avoid an awful thrashing 0

Posted on September 18, 2016 by Ken

 

“What is the best way to avoid an awful thrashing,” was the question uppermost in my mind on Thursday afternoon.

It’s fair to say that my mind this week has been a bit like the ocean outside Pegasus Bay, which shelters Christchurch from the wave-tossed Pacific Ocean as it crashes into the rest of New Zealand’s South Island’s rugged coastline –restless, uneasy and with thoughts of Springbok rugby’s demise pounding away.

The lack of focus became apparent in the Sunshine Tour Media Challenge on Thursday afternoon, as Musiwalo Nethunzwi, the gifted 28-year-old from Modderfontein Golf Club, quickly dominated the front nine at Glendower Golf Club to go eight-up over hapless me at the turn.

The prospect of losing 10&8 had thankfully been averted, but the ignominy of a massive defeat was very much on the cards. At the halfway house I decided the only way forward was to stick with the things (it’s a short list) that have worked in the past and I was fortunate to also bump into Thabang Simon, the Soweto Country Club professional who has been playing on tour since 1998/99.

I suspect Simon just wanted to tag along out of morbid curiosity to watch the trainsmash that is my golf – I was having a bad day so it’s probably more like the effects of a tsunami obliterating a densely-populated area – but his presence had the effect of galvanising me and I managed to win a few holes before eventually going down 5&4.

On a serious note, the difficulties our development golfers face in trying to make it as professionals is clearly illustrated by Nethunzwi. He was magnificent off the tee, long and straight, and outplayed James Kamte, the pinnacle of Black African golf in South Africa and part of our fourball, to illustrate the talent he has.

But Nethunzwi, a thoroughly affable chap as well, does not have a full-time coach, simply because he cannot afford one, providing an opportunity for corporate South Africa to help transform the game if ever I’ve seen one.

I have a feeling most Springbok fans are expecting a “5&4” defeat at the hands of the All Blacks on Saturday morning.

It’s important to note, however, that South African rugby has been through these times of mourning before.

Heyneke Meyer’s first Rugby Championship campaign in 2012 saw the Springboks draw in Argentina before losing both games in Australia and New Zealand, the All Blacks also hammering them 32-16 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

In Peter de Villiers’ first Tri-Nations tournament, in 2008, the Springboks won just one game, astonishingly against the All Blacks in Dunedin, while Jake White started superbly, but a run of five successive defeats in 2006 left him on the brink of being fired before a 77th-minute Andre Pretorius penalty edged them to a one-point win over New Zealand in Rustenburg. Just over a year after that, the Springboks were winning the World Cup in France.

Even their 1995 triumph came after they had won just three of their previous 15 Tests against Australia, New Zealand, France and England.

The Springboks dug their way out of those troughs and came out stronger, and former star Fourie du Preez certainly believes this will be the case again.

“It’s a tough story for South African rugby at the moment and all supporters would like to believe it will get better. As a former player though, I can tell you that this experience now will really count in their favour further down the line. I remember before the 2007 World Cup it was the same for us.

“When the Springboks have their backs against the wall, they always stand up and we still have great players. I just don’t understand why we have to wait until we’re under such pressure though. It’s very unfortunate that the new coach was appointed just four weeks before his first Test and he’s going through a tough time as well,” Du Preez said.

The inspirational scrumhalf was speaking in studio as part of The Dan Nicholl Show, which so often puts matters of South African sport in perspective. The first episode of season four, which has Du Preez in the line-up, will be broadcast on Wednesday at 7pm on SuperSport 1.

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.

 

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    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



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