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Ken Borland



Bulls playing for their SuperRugby lives & their coach’s future 0

Posted on November 23, 2016 by Ken

 

The Bulls have to beat the Rebels in Melbourne this morning to remain in SuperRugby contention and they are also playing for the future of their coach, Frans Ludeke.

This is not only the Bulls’ last match on tour but it is also the final game before Ludeke faces the board back at Loftus Versfeld on Friday, the day before they host the Cheetahs. They will be out of contention for the playoffs by then, however, if they don’t beat the Rebels and end their 10-match losing run overseas. There are already noises emanating from Pretoria that Ludeke will be relieved of his duties unless his team stages a dramatic turnaround.

To do that, they are going to have to show much greater intensity in the collisions than they did in the lame display against the Brumbies last weekend.

“The Rebels are obviously a much-improved side, they beat the Crusaders away and the Chiefs. They have the most ball-carries and the best retention percentage, so they keep the ball and hold on to it. They have a strong set-piece, most of their tries come from the lineout, and they wear you down,” Ludeke said.

“We will have to squeeze turnovers, they concede a lot and we will have to make sure we force them with a good defensive line and not wasting people at the breakdown. The Rebels aren’t scared to take risks, they throw the ball around, so if we work hard in defence then we will get opportunities.”

The Rebels were poor in losing to a mediocre Sharks side last weekend in Durban and are now out of playoffs contention, but they were still talking a good game this week.

“I feel like there’s a lot riding on these last two weeks. Just because there’s only two games left, it doesn’t mean we can’t send a message about next year.

“We didn’t take our opportunities against the Sharks, for whatever reason, and this time we need to play smarter. We’re pretty confident of what we’re going to get presented with this week, so it’s another huge opportunity for us.

“The Bulls forward pack will be awesome; they’re so big so we’re really going to have to shut them down with two-man tackles. If we can shut them down that will take away a lot of their forward momentum,” lock Luke Jones said.

 

 

Superb Williams solo try wins scrappy game for Sharks 0

Posted on November 17, 2016 by Ken

 

A superb solo try by replacement centre Heimar Williams made certain of a 25-21 victory for the Sharks in a scrappy SuperRugby match against the Rebels at Kings Park in Durban last night.

Williams, who cut inside and then dashed over from 25 metres out for a brilliant try, gave the Sharks a 22-7 lead after 52 minutes.

But despite the Rebels playing with 14 men for the entire second half after prop Laurie Weeks was red-carded for repeatedly punching Jannie du Plessis, who was yellow-carded for starting the fracas with a slap to the back of the head, the visitors fought back manfully and threatened to steal the spoils.

Inspired by man of the match Scott Higginbotham, their eighthman and captain, the Rebels scored twice in the last quarter through Higginbotham and replacement wing Bryce Hegarty.

The Sharks, who dominated territory, were hesitant on attack and both sides struggled to gain momentum due to dreadful handling.

Left wing S’Bura Sithole was the Sharks’ best player and his 34th-minute try, muscling his way through several defenders, ensured that they had a 10-0 lead, but that was cut to 7-10 at the break by Higginbotham’s first try.

Four minutes into the second half, the Rebels were on attack but replacement scrumhalf Nic Stirzaker threw a no-look pass that was snaffled by fullback Lwazi Mvovo, who then sprinted 80 metres for a thrilling intercept try.

The Sharks led 15-7 but they created precious little else in terms of try-scoring chances, their attack being too lateral – when they managed to hang on to the ball – and the several passengers in their pack ensuring that front-foot ball was hard to come by.

They were grateful for Williams finally producing some direct running for the try that made the task just too hard for the Rebels.

Scorers

Sharks – Tries: S’Bura Sithole, Lwazi Mvovo, Heimar Williams. Conversions: Lionel Cronje (2). Penalties: Cronje (2).

Rebels – Tries: Scott Higginbotham (2), Bryce Hegarty. Conversions: Jack Debreczeni (3).

Camaraderie is the root of it all for rugby 0

Posted on July 29, 2015 by Ken

 

SuperRugby has made a much-awaited return to our TV screens and consciousness with no-hopers the Melbourne Rebels sensationally beating the Crusaders in Christchurch, while the Varsity Cup has also enjoyed a thrilling opening round of action.

But the last week also saw the launch of an equally-important competition for those outside that pair of high-profile tournaments – the Cell C Community Cup. Those who denigrate this competition as being merely amateur club rugby should perhaps watch some of the high-quality fare on offer while also remembering the wise words of rugby doyen Hugh Bladen, who pointed out that the very roots of the game are in tournaments such as the Community Cup.

In his excellent address at the launch at Wanderers Club, Bladen reminded the audience that clubs are the backbone of world rugby, it was through them that the game spread, while the sport began as mass inter-town events that would see a pig-bladder wrestled from one side of a village to another.

How much focus is put on schoolboy rugby (and the awful use of steroids that leads to) and whether the Vodacom Cup should actually exist are two bones of contention of mine and I wish there was more attention paid to club rugby instead. Unfortunately, the vested interests of 14 provincial unions, all with bloated payrolls to look after, means this is unlikely to happen any time soon.

Bladen told some wonderful stories about the spirit or gees that is typical of club rugby and this is what even those players who have reached the greatest heights of the game miss most once they have retired.

The Absa Cape Epic mountain bike race also had their launch this week and a number of former rugby stars have registered for this gruelling event that comprises eight stages from Table Mountain through the unique landscapes of the Western Cape, over mountains and through valleys to the finish in the Winelands. They are all taking part because the event provides them with the team spirit they miss from their rugby days.

“This is the closest sport to what I was able to get out of my rugby career – the adrenaline and the camaraderie are addictive and it feeds the competitive monster in me,” World Cup-winning Springbok captain John Smit said.

“Every person tells you you’re crazy to do it, you expect to die, but the race has got the spirit and camaraderie to get you through. That’s what you look forward to and a week after the race you miss everything about it,” fellow 2007 World Cup-winner Butch James said.

“Mountain biking has become my passion, I absolutely love what I do now. It’s about courage and commitment, and rugby players have that,” 1995 World Cup hero Joel Stransky said.

Apart from the wonderful scenery they get to enjoy when they’re not head-down staring at their front wheels, the rugby legends also make significant contributions to charity.

“I get so many requests from charities, that I formed my own – Barney’s Army. So I’m riding for them and there are three beneficiaries, the Chris Burger/Petro Jackson Fund for rugby players who suffer spinal injuries, the LIV Village for orphaned and vulnerable children and Operation Bobbi Bear which provides a safehouse for abused children between the abuse and the courthouse,” Smit explained.

Several of the rugby legends are riding for Barney’s Army, while Marius Hurter and Colin Charvis are riding for Sparks for Children’s Health, which raises funds for medical research, and Stransky is competing for the LumoHawk Foundation he started four years ago to raise funds for the education and sporting needs of underprivileged children.

The rugby legends will all probably feel as battered and bruised on March 22 as they did after taking on the All Blacks, but their competitive spirit will be quenched, they would have contributed greatly to charity and the further exposure of our beautiful country, and they will all have a tremendous jol as they once again #ConquerAsOne.

 

 

 



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