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Ken Borland

SA Rugby had to listen to stakeholders’ bark or face the bite – Roux 0

Posted on May 01, 2017 by Ken


According to Saru CEO Jurie Roux, South African rugby had to listen to the bark coming from broadcasters and all other stakeholders in the game and cut the number of SuperRugby franchises or face the bite of economic hardship and potential disaster further down the road.

Roux was speaking on Monday at the launch of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge, the new tournament that will slot in at the level below SuperRugby, following Sanzaar’s announcement at the weekend that South Africa will only be able to field four teams from next year.

“Our stakeholders – sponsors, fans, broadcasters and media – have been speaking very clearly about the lack of integrity in the competition because not everyone plays everyone else, and the confusing format of SuperRugby. Broadcasters wanted change to come immediately otherwise they warned us we were going to run into contracting issues.

“And the economic reality is that we cannot sustain six franchises, we can survive with five but then we’d have to sacrifice other things, and neither can we sustain it from the player point of view either. So it’s high time that tough decisions were made for the good of South African rugby, that’s what the staff are paid for and the office bearers are elected for.

“Ultimately it’s a numbers decision, the numbers of spectators and viewers are in decline and there’s obviously an issue with what stadiums are providing as well. Plus half our franchises lose more matches than they win, so they’re not providing quality competition,” Roux said at the Bill Jardine Stadium on Monday.

The CEO said politics and emotion had governed the previous decision to expand to six franchises, but he hopes the newly formed franchise committee, and the Saru general council that will ultimately consider their proposal, lays those factors aside when they consider which two franchises should be cut from Super Rugby.

“The ultimate competition was probably Super 12, but there was some selfishness, some mandates from country’s high-performance units and a lot of revenue and political factors that led to the expansion. The reality is that there will always be some politics involved, but emotions are tougher to manage and I’m sad to say a lot of rugby decisions have been based on them.

“My plea to the franchise committee is to make a swift recommendation, not based on politics or emotion, so that nobody can accuse us of stalling. I will push as hard as I can to have this decision made as quickly as possible, at most within a month’s time,” Roux said.

The CEO suggested another four professional franchises could play as a group in other overseas tournaments, while adding that the 14 provincial unions had to continue as semi-professional entities looking after the broad base of the South African rugby pyramid – the amateur and school teams.

Bumpy road for franchises as 1-Day Cup enters critical stage 0

Posted on May 26, 2015 by Ken

It’s going to be a bumpy road to the Momentum One-Day Cup playoff for the Dolphins, Lions and Titans, who are all in action on Friday night as the competition enters a critical stage with World Cup and SA A call-ups playing havoc with team selection for the franchises.

The Nashua Cape Cobras must rate themselves as being virtually assured of automatic entry to the final as they enjoy a nine-point lead at the top of the log with three matches to play.

Last season’s joint champions have won five of their seven matches, including an excellent five-wicket win over the bizhub Highveld Lions last week at the Wanderers, when they were missing a large proportion of their first-choice side.

But the fortunes of the three teams below them in the standings – the Dolphins (16pts), Lions (15pts) and Titans (13pts) – have fluctuated wildly and one of the franchises needs to get a solid run going in order to cement themselves into second place.

Lions coach Geoff Toyana will be hoping that it will be his team, that has been boosted by the return of several key players, that will take control of their destiny with victory over the Chevrolet Knights at the Wanderers on Friday, while Titans coach Rob Walter will be aiming for similar success as they take on the Cobras in Cape Town in a match-up that is a repeat of last season’s washed out final.

The fact that SA A play their next limited-overs match against the England Lions in Potchefstroom on Saturday means that Toyana is able to use star bowlers like Eddie Leie and Kagiso Rabada, while Hardus Viljoen is also fit again to further boost their attack and experienced campaigners Alviro Petersen and Thami Tsolekile also come back into the line-up.

Toyana said on Thursday that his team’s chances of possibly moving into second place will all come down to their ability to focus on their own skills and getting the execution of those right.

The Knights come to Johannesburg with their hopes of making the playoff all but gone after just one win in seven games, and they will be without key batsman Reeza Hendricks.

Toyana is not going to write them off, however.

“The Knights are a very dangerous team and very competitive in 50-over cricket. They can still get to 20 points so it’s a crunch game for us. If we don’t win then we’re not going to go far in this competition, so it’s important we do well and keep our destiny in our own hands,” Toyana toldThe Citizen on Thursday.

The Unlimited Titans travel to Newlands fresh from a morale-boosting win over the Knights in Kimberley, but are going to have to find replacements for key players like Marchant de Lange, Theunis de Bruyn and David Wiese, who are all with the SA A side.

Albie Morkel is set to make a return to domestic action and the Titans are going to have to decide, depending on pitch conditions, whether to play a second frontline spinner in Tabraiz Shamsi or another seamer in Ethy Mbhalati, while Graeme van Buuren (slow left-arm) and Grant Thomson (medium-pace) are both batting all-rounders competing for a single place.

The Titans will be hoping for more of the same from openers Jacques Rudolph and Henry Davids, who put on 77 for the first wicket in 14.3 overs against the Knights.

The Cobras have more players unavailable than most, but they have been able to make do thanks to the excellent depth they enjoy down in the Western Cape.

Openers Richard Levi and Andrew Puttick have been making bucket-loads of runs, while this season has also seen Sybrand Engelbrecht make strong progress.

Justin Kemp, the old warhorse, can still cart the best of bowlers around the park, while Robin Peterson is another experienced, dangerous campaigner for the Titans to be wary of.

The Sunfoil Dolphins travel to Port Elizabeth to face a Chevrolet Warriors side that has been boosted by the return of Rusty Theron from a knee injury and the availability of Simon Harmer.

Both sides have been in danger of having their 50-over skills decomposing due to lack of use as neither of them have played in the Momentum One-Day Cup since the end of October, but while the Dolphins still have the title to aim for, the Warriors can realistically only build for next season having won just one of their five games thus far.

Against the strengthened Warriors attack, the Dolphins will be relying heavily on three hugely experienced batsmen – Morne van Wyk, Daryn Smit, who had his 31st birthday on Wednesday, and Vaughn van Jaarsveld, who turns 30 on Monday.

Bryan Habana Q&A 0

Posted on July 28, 2014 by Ken

Bryan, back in South Africa and giving back to the Nyanga community for Mandela Day, have you had time to reflect on the successes of the last few months?

It’s not ideal being outside of South Africa and I’m unbelievably proud to call myself South African. Until you leave these shores, you never know what you’re missing, but I’m very happy where I am in France. The language is tough and sometimes if they talk too fast then you lose it, but luckily there are a lot of internationals at Toulon. It’s taught me to become a lot more independent. Driving on the right-hand side of the road takes some getting used to and I’ve stalled a couple of times! But staying on the French Riviera is pretty positive and a happy player is an in-form player.

It was a pretty special end to the season in France after I was a bit frustrated at the beginning. I was injured after the Rugby Championship, four months out, and then I was injured again on the end-of-year tour for another two weeks. So to come back and play a part in the finals was very special.

It was fantastic playing alongside Jonny Wilkinson and seeing the way he bowed out, there was no better way to end his career.


Those successes must fill you with a lot of confidence for the season ahead?

We have a lot to build on but there’s been a change in format in the Heineken Cup plus the Top 14 is 28 games against tough opposition every week. I went over to France to win trophies and I didn’t think it would happen as quickly as it did. So the foundation has been laid, I have a couple of years left with Toulon and I hope to contribute to even more trophies.


Was it a tough challenge coming to France and playing in those finals in your first season over there?

Experience plays a big part. I’ve played 90-odd Tests, so you learn how to bring something else out on the big occasions. Plus I had 11 amazing seasons in South Africa, good and bad times, and winning trophies from the Vodacom Cup to Currie Cup, SuperRugby and the Tri-Nations.

So I was happy to experience something different in France, I didn’t want to get stuck in a rut, you want to learn how to deal with new environments and challenges.


What are your future ambitions in terms of South Africa?

I hope to play more than a hundred Tests for the Springboks, play international rugby for another year or two. There are those elusive couple of tries for the world record and I’d love to achieve 100 caps. To be part of the 2015 World Cup is the short-term goal. It has without a doubt been the proudest moments of my career to pull that jersey over my head, but a lot still has to happen for me to reach those landmarks. But I’m going to push myself harder and further.


What’s the mood like in the Springbok camp at the moment?

Heyneke Meyer and his team are working towards something special. There are very exciting youngsters in the team and old heads who know the ropes. I hope to contribute to that journey, there were those two losses to New Zealand last year and we hope to rectify that in the Rugby Championship.

This Springbok side is heading towards one of the best I’ve been involved with, the foundation has been laid and a great atmosphere has been created. This is one of the happiest teams I’ve been involved with, thanks to Heyneke Meyer, who has put the onus on the individual.

2009 was a phenomenal year and we’re growing ever closer to that with a mix of the older guys and the newer combinations. We’re definitely heading the right way, we can only get better because the competition for places is high. You’re not sure of getting your place back these days if you sit out.


Willie le Roux was sensational in the June Tests, what’s it like playing next to him?

Willie is very exciting. Three years ago we played against him at Western Province when he was playing for Boland and it’s fantastic how he has embraced his opportunity with the Cheetahs. Cornal Hendricks too, came from Sevens and has had a huge impact with the Cheetahs.

Willie is a fantastic playmaker, probably up there with the best one or two fullbacks in the world. Hopefully I can be at the end of a few more of his final passes!


What are your future goals with Toulon?

After 11 seasons in South Africa which were the best times of my life, I want to leave the Toulon jersey in a better shape than I found it. I want to give my most for Toulon and South Africa.


How is your relationship with Mourad Boudjellal?

Mourad must take a lot of the credit for our success. He has put a lot of money into Toulon, he’s a staunch Toulon rugby man and he backed players even though people thought they were at the end of their careers. He took Toulon up from the second division with players like Tana Umaga, Victor Matfield, George Gregan and Andrew Mehrtens and now he’s developed a side of world-beaters.

To be double champions is pretty special and he must take credit for that, without him it would not have happened.

Mourad does not speak that much English so we haven’t had many conversations, but he’s as passionate as you can get about rugby. He does the Pilou Pilou for us when things go well.


There was talk about you representing South Africa at the Commonwealth Games Sevens, what happened there?

I’m very disappointed I won’t be going to the Commonwealth Games, but I understand that I am contracted to Toulon and the Commonwealth Games are not in the Test window. But it would have been fantastic to be part of that.

I went to a couple of training sessions with the Springbok Sevens and I could see their passion and enthusiasm. I’m firmly behind them and they have more than enough talent to do very well.



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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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