for quality writing

Ken Borland



SuperRugby final a benefit for entire city – Lions CEO 0

Posted on August 02, 2017 by Ken

 

Saturday’s SuperRugby final that the Lions will host at Ellis Park against the Crusaders is going to benefit not just the rugby franchise but the entire city of Johannesburg, according to CEO Rudolf Straeuli.

A sell-out crowd of more than 60 000 has already been confirmed for the showdown as the Lions look to complete their fairytale resurgence by beating the most successful team in SuperRugby history and becoming only the second South African side to win the southern hemisphere franchise competition.

“Hosting the final is going to be a huge benefit for everyone who finds value at Ellis Park. It’s not just the union that benefits, it obviously also helps the Ellis Park Stadium Pty and it’s a huge marketing opportunity for the Lions company and a great honour to host the final. There’s the money from the tickets and hospitality and some extra reward in the form of the prizemoney. None of that was budgeted for, so it’s a bonus.

“But it’s also a big positive for Johannesburg, the whole city, and especially the Ellis Park precinct, all our neighbours. We are really blessed to be able to host such great events, we’ve had the All Blacks here before and the Test against France this year was also a big success,” Straeuli told The Citizen on Tuesday.

The Lions have not only established themselves at the pinnacle of South African rugby, but have also had to manoeuvre themselves out of troubled financial waters in the last five years.

“You can’t take anything away from the team because they are our flagship, and our juniors have done very well too with our Craven Week side being the best and our U21s and U19s winning their competitions last year. But a few years ago we were a business that was having retrenchments. But some staff took pay-cuts and simplicity has been key to our operations.

“We don’t have a big staff for the big area we have to manage and we have had to cut our cloth according to our needs. But there’s a really positive mood and success breeds further success. Plus people like Kevin de Klerk (president) and Altmann Allers (vice-president) are serious businessmen. If we didn’t have them behind us and their business acumen and that of the board, never mind their own money they have put in, then we wouldn’t be here,” Straeuli said.

http://citizen.co.za/sport/sport-rugby/1595200/super-rugby-final-will-be-a-boost-for-joburg/

Straeuli & Williams – memorable World Cup moments 0

Posted on June 23, 2015 by Ken

There was always plenty of niggle between the Springboks and Sean Fitzpatrick, and the World Cup final victory 20 years ago at Ellis Park was one of the few occasions when the South Africans managed to get the better of the great New Zealand hooker.

And not just on the scoreboard either because, according to replacement eighthman Rudolf Straeuli, the Springboks managed to rub salt in the wounds of the disconsolate All Black at the final scrum.

Straeuli’s role in Joel Stransky’s famous World Cup-winning drop goal is not often mentioned but, having come on for Mark Andrews, it was he who picked up the ball at the back of that scrum and set in motion the move that sent the ball to the flyhalf, even though something else had been planned.

“I just remember going on to the field and catching a 22 kickoff. Then we had the scrum, it wheeled a bit and it was just instinct, I called a back-row move because we couldn’t go the side we wanted, you can’t play against the wheel. Joel then called for the ball and the rest is history.

“But there was still time left after that and on that last scrum, on our tryline, I remember even Joost [van der Westhuizen] joined in. And then the scrum opened up and we were able to give Sean Fitzpatrick a few shots,” Straeuli chuckled.

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge for Straeuli since 1995, including his own spell as the Springbok coach at the 2003 World Cup that ended in failure, and he is now the chief executive of the Golden Lions Rugby Union, having also coached the Sharks with some success. But his memories of the World Cup are inextricably linked to another highlight in his life.

“Every time I think about the World Cup I remember my daughter, Rieze’s birthday, because she was born 11 hours after the Australia game, my first child. Morne du Plessis organised for me to go and see her, but there was a lot of emotion after the final because we met up with family for the first time in six weeks. We went to Midrand to celebrate …” Straeuli recalled, before adding that the memories are tinged with sadness because of the two integral squad members who have passed away since 1995 – coach Kitch Christie and fellow loose forward Ruben Kruger.

To prove that great memories never die, wing Chester Williams can even remember what call was made at the fateful scrum that led to Stransky’s drop goal.

“We were going to play Black – a move that involved Rudolf and Francois Pienaar and then Andre Joubert would run on the outside, but at the last second Joel saw that Graeme Bachop [All Blacks scrumhalf] was putting a lot of pressure on Joost, so he cancelled the move and went for the drop goal,” Williams said.

“When we arrived, with the amazing crowd, we all believed we could win, then 20 minutes before kickoff, Nelson Mandela is in our changeroom! This world icon, wearing our jersey, and he said he was here as our biggest fan. We then all followed Kobus Wiese at the haka, we decided to take on the challenge.

“My happiest day before that was getting back into the squad, but that day I saw people hugging, crying and embracing in the stadium and I saw the Rainbow Nation for the first time. It started before the final with coaching clinics in Khayelitsha and Soweto,” Williams said.

 

Francois Pienaar quote – “It’s amazing to think that it’s 20 years since I had the incredible privilege of standing on the same podium as Nelson Mandela. While the game was on, we had the sense that something big was happening, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that it would have such a deep impact in our country. We made big steps then, celebrating together for the first time.”

 



↑ Top