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Ken Borland



John McFarland Column: Boks nicely set up after job well done 0

Posted on August 30, 2017 by Ken

The Tests against Argentina were a job well done by the Springboks and it’s great to see them at the top of the Rugby Championship log, with things set up nicely for their tour of Australasia.

It’s great to see the Springboks play so convincingly and win five Tests on the bounce, including coach Allister Coetzee’s first away win.

It was a really good win last weekend in Salta and what was most impressive was the all-round game they played.

To win by five tries to two, maintaining their high rate of try-scoring this year, shows that their attacking game is completely on track. Their ability to convert turnover ball into seven points was also superb, as in the crucial second try by Siya Kolisi just after halftime.

It’s never easy in Salta because of the extreme heat and a very passionate crowd, and there was a lot of talk about the effects of travel, but the performance proved that the Springboks used the right schedule. To have two good days of training in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg before they left for Argentina was a masterstroke and you have to give credit to the coaching staff for their wise planning.

They also did not rush back from Salta, instead having a good day of recovery around the pool, and they will hopefully reap good rewards for that on their trip to Perth. It is, however, a more tricky flight from Perth on the far western side of Australia to Auckland, much longer than flying from the eastern shore. It means the Springboks will probably lose Monday as a training day and will only have Tuesday and Thursday before the All Blacks Test in Albany, which is perhaps a day light in terms of preparation.

The next two weeks are going to be big pressure games for the Springboks. Australia have recovered well, as expected, and the fact they nearly beat the All Blacks in Dunedin proves the margins are so small at the top international level of the game. The Wallabies will be aggrieved they did not win, but they have certainly regained their pride and confidence.

Both New Zealand and Australia are leaking tries at the moment though, nine and 13 respectively in their first two matches, which is a big thing for the Springboks to target.

The Springboks have only conceded four tries and their defence has been vastly improved.

There is not much a defence coach can do about a kickoff that bounces in no-man’s land and subsequently leads to a try, but someone would have called for it and then misjudged the flight of the ball. The players will take responsibility for it and it will be sorted out in the review of the game. The misunderstanding will all be cleared up quickly, especially with the great culture in the team at the moment.

Speaking of great, I thought Elton Jantjies had such a good game.

He knows he’s the number one flyhalf and he’s feeling backed, and his goalkicking has been phenomenal at 89%, which is the most important box for him to tick. But the quality of his all-round play has been excellent – his exits, his awareness of space and the way he has been able to take the ball to the line. He’s attacking with real confidence.

Our wingers are also coping well in the Rugby Championship and the game has moved on from just being about size and kick-and-chase.

That said, the Springboks’ kicking game has also been working well.

The set-pieces have also been brilliant and the scrum has functioned really well. Who would have thought that our scrum would be so dominant in two Tests against Argentina.

The Pumas came out ultra-aggressive and fired up and maybe it was too much because it led to ill-discipline and cards, something that was an issue for the Jaguares all through SuperRugby as well.

There just seems to be one remaining issue with the Springboks and that is the back-up flyhalf situation. Handre Pollard has been named in the touring squad but it is a concern that he has not played any actual rugby.

Obviously he must have been training well and the intensity of the Springbok practices is good, but to be really ready to play, everyone needs some match time behind them. Pat Lambie is in the same boat and they both need game time, but unfortunately their Springbok contracts mean they cannot play any Currie Cup rugby.

It is something that SA Rugby needs to revisit.

 

 

John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012 through to the 2015 World Cup, where they conceded the least line-breaks in the tournament and an average of just one try per game. Before that, McFarland won three SuperRugby titles (2007, 09, 10) with the Bulls and five Currie Cup crowns with the Blue Bulls. In all, he won 28 trophies during his 12 years at Loftus Versfeld.

Sanzar’s SuperRugby Christmas present is likely to be meh 0

Posted on February 20, 2017 by Ken

 

Rugby fans who have had enough of the current fatigue-inducing set-up will be eagerly anticipating Christmas and the expected announcement by Sanzar of a new SuperRugby format from 2016. But what they find in their stocking might still leave them unimpressed because Sanzar are unlikely to go the most obvious route of two pools of nine, eight matches home and away and semi-finals and a final.

Because the Southern Kings had such a dramatic impact on rugby in the Eastern Cape, certainly in terms of crowd figures, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) seem to have accepted that they can no longer leave such a massive region out in the cold even though they lost the promotion/relegation series to the Lions. And Argentina, full Sanzar partners now, look set to be rewarded with a place in SuperRugby as well, expanding the competition to 17 teams. Judging by the noises coming out of New Zealand and Australia, some sort of Japanese involvement is also being strongly considered to make it an even 18.

But the same Australian demands that impacted so heavily on the previous broadcasting agreement, which brings in all the money and therefore decides the format, seem set to ensure common sense does not apply. In order to sustain the ailing code of rugby union in Australia, they want their own conference, even if they have to share it with some New Zealand teams.

So the three proposals that Sanzar are considering are to keep the status quo (yes, many stakeholders, most of them living on a big island, actually think the current format is great), to split into South African and Australasian conferences, or to expand the competition even more and include other Asian teams, and the USA and Canada as well.

It would appear the two-conference system has been most positively received by Saru, and hopefully their negotiators will show much more skill when Sanzar meet in Sydney next week than the muppets who negotiated the previous deal. That could mean six South African franchises, which play each other home and away, making 10 fixtures. If the Australasian conference is split into two pools, with Japan in one and Argentina in the other, then they, too, could play 10 round-robin matches. The idea is then for the top six or eight teams across the conferences to play in the finals. If six teams go through and play each other, that’s five more matches. A semi-final and a final would then mean a maximum of 17 games per team – much cleaner, much simpler and less of a slog than SuperRugby is at the moment for all concerned.

What is vital is that Sanzar consult the players, on whom they rely to sell their product. There is a strong suggestion that the current exodus of players from the southern hemisphere to Europe is not just because of the power of the euro, but also because they are on their last legs due to the unceasing intensity and quantity of rugby Sanzar has foisted on them.

Bulls captain Pierre Spies, one of many on the injured list after the prolonged SuperRugby campaign, is pegging his hopes on change. “I’d really like to see the competition end before the international season. That three-week break for the internationals in June is a waste. I’d like to see all the focus on SuperRugby, get that done with and then give all the teams three or four weeks to prepare for the Tests. We could then finish the Rugby Championship at the end of October and either go back to our franchises or prepare for the end-of-year tour. I’d prefer there to be one global schedule and to finish SuperRugby in one go. That would also give all the teams one extra bye,” Spies told Daily Maverick on Thursday.

There does seem to be growing agreement on the sense of having one global rugby season. The International Rugby Players’ Association has come out in favour of it and even Sanzar CEO Greg Peters has said it makes sense. “The idea of moving June to July, in a Sanzar context, certainly holds a lot of appeal, for a lot of reasons,” Peters told The Herald Sun. “We could complete the SuperRugby season without a break, which is something in an ideal world we would want to do. Then you would move straight into the international program, have a short break, the Rugby Championship, short break, and then the Spring Tours. We would certainly be interested in sitting down with the northern unions and getting their views about whether it would work. And obviously we are interested in the views of the players’ associations as well.”

The Currie Cup Premier Division also looks set to change, with a new eight team format apparently agreed to in principle by the Saru executive committee, just two years after they went to great lengths to justify a cut to six teams. The phrase “political expediency” immediately springs to mind, but the thought of the Kings and the Pumas, who have dominated the First Division in recent times and are based in the rapidly-growing centre of Nelspruit, competing at the top table does have appeal.

The administrators sit in the boardrooms and make the decisions over lavish lunches, changing tune according to their own vested interests, but it is the players who have to go out, put their bodies on the line, and make these formats work.

“I’ve only been playing SuperRugby for six years and I’m struggling to get on the field now,” says Springbok star Francois Steyn, who has been out of action since May after two operations for compartment syndrome in the leg – an over-use injury.

“In South African rugby, we all worry about saying something wrong and stepping on someone’s toes, so I should probably keep my mouth shut. But it’s all about bringing the fans out and less rugby is probably better. Then the top players can play for longer. At this rate, if you play for 10 years, you’re a lucky guy.”

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-08-30-quo-vadis-superrugby/#.WKrl_2997IU

Mosehle makes it straightforward for the Titans 0

Posted on December 14, 2015 by Ken

 

Mangaliso Mosehle played the innings of his life to set up a straightforward run-chase for the Unlimited Titans and victory over the Sunfoil Dolphins by seven wickets with 19 balls to spare in the RamSlam T20 Challenge final at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Saturday night.

The Titans had sent the Dolphins in to bat and stuck to their basics well as they restricted them to 159 for five in their 20 overs. It was a challenging enough total in a final, but Mosehle blasted 87 off just 39 balls to rush them to their target in only 16.5 overs.

The 25-year-old Mosehle  has always been highly-rated by the Titans, but coach Rob Walter has had to be patient and back the talented Duduza product long after many others have called for him to be dropped. In the nets, Mosehle is one of the cleanest ball-strikers in a team of great batsmen, but, often impetuous, he has struggled to produce innings that really matter.

But he is the sort of batsman who always looks to take the game forward, and on Saturday night he played what could be the defining innings of his career as he slammed six fours and seven sixes to win the final almost single-handedly.

There were enough streaky shots to keep the Dolphins interested, but the skill and talent was abundantly evident as his confidence grew and grew. The highlight of his innings was when he launched a sensational assault on South Africa’s number one T20 spinner, Imran Tahir, hitting the first four balls of the 12th over for six, six, four and six as 28 runs came off the over and all but settled the contest.

“The key for us was to rotate the strike, but after I hit the first one down the ground, it felt good, so I told Henry Davids that I was going to take him on,” was the unassuming Mosehle’s explanation.

By the time Mosehle was out in the 15th over, caught-and-bowled splicing a hook at Kyle Abbott, the Titans needed just 12 runs off 34 balls; the fat lady had not only sung, she was downing beers somewhere in the heaving, festive capacity crowd that gave the final a tremendous atmosphere.

The experienced Davids, who became just the second batsman after Dolphins captain Morne van Wyk to score 2000 RamSlam T20 Challenge runs, was the ideal foil for Mosehle, finding the gaps to rotate the strike as he scored 35 off 38 balls and shared in a record 123-run second-wicket partnership off just 71 deliveries. The previous record for the Titans was 111 between Gulam Bodi and Heino Kuhn against the Highveld Lions at the Wanderers in 2006/7.

Davids was dismissed, caught behind off Abbott, straight after Mosehle fell, but the Dolphins had all but conceded defeat, the talismanic Kevin Pietersen telling Mosehle that his dismissal had merely delayed his drinking time!

Quinton de Kock (12) was dismissed, caught off a leading edge, off Andile Phehlukwayo’s first ball, but that was the last moment of joy for the Dolphins for an hour as Mosehle launched his withering offensive.

Van Wyk had earlier shot out of the blocks as he opened the batting for the Dolphins, scoring 29 off 24 balls as the visitors reached 47 without loss in the powerplay.

The wicketkeeper/batsman had timed the ball beautifully, collecting two fours and two sixes, but was then caught on the cover boundary off Junior Dala, punished for hitting a shot too well.

Young paceman Lungi Ngidi came on for one over midway through the innings and claimed the massive scalp of Pietersen, caught for 10 as David Wiese took a steepling catch on the midwicket boundary with impressive calm.

Davids then really put the Dolphins on the back foot as he removed opener Jonathan Vandiar (26) with his first delivery, leaving them on 76 for three at the start of the 12h over.

West Indian pro Dwayne Bravo, though, finally made his mark on the Dolphins’ season as he scored 53 off 30 balls, a clever innings full of nifty strokes as well as powerful ones, as he and David Miller (33 off 25) added 83 off 53 deliveries.

Titans captain Albie Morkel once again called on eight bowlers and they all had their moments.

Fast bowler Chris Morris was probably the most impressive, although he did not take a wicket in his four overs that cost 30 runs. Dala, the other fast man, took one for 33, while Wiese, called on to bowl the last two overs from the Hennops River End, ended the innings with the wickets of Miller and Bravo off successive deliveries.

But even if both those balls had been hit for six, it would not have stopped the Titans army from marching on, their ninth victory in 11 RamSlam T20 Challenge matches this season indicating a team that is on top of their game, marrying tremendous personnel with a spot-on tactical approach.

http://citizen.co.za/906421/906421/

Rabada announces himself as the future of SA pace 0

Posted on August 26, 2015 by Ken

 

Kagiso Rabada announced himself on Sunday as the man to lead the future South African pace attack as he single-handedly destroyed the Dolphins and set up a resounding 10-wicket win for the bizhub Highveld Lions in their Sunfoil Series match at the Wanderers.

Rabada claimed a phenomenal nine for 33 in 16.2 overs on Sunday to finish with match figures of 14 for 105.

Only one other man has taken 14 wickets in a franchise match and that was Dale Steyn for the Titans against the Eagles in Bloemfontein in 2007/8.

Rabada could well be South Africa’s next great fast bowler, with the 19-year-old confirming all the good things followers of the game are hearing about him with a thunderous performance at the Wanderers.

The Dolphins were bundled out for just 134 by Rabada, leaving the Lions with a target of just 16 to win, those runs being knocked off by openers Stephen Cook and Rassie van der Dussen.

The Dolphins, trailing by 119 runs on first innings, had resumed on 22 for one on Sunday morning after the third day’s play had been limited to just 29.1 overs by bad light and rain, and they were immediately rocked by Rabada having Daniel Sincuba caught behind for four.

The Wanderers pitch was far from her most venomous, but Rabada managed to swing the ball and generated impressive pace, having Cody Chetty (5) caught in the slips in his third over of the day before taking a break.

Rabada’s second spell was the perfect marriage of control, pace and movement as he ripped through the Dolphins lower-order in a dazzling spell of six for 10 in 6.2 overs.

Rassie van der Dussen dived full-length at backward point to catch Morne van Wyk for seven, but the five other batsmen dismissed by Rabada were all bowled or trapped lbw, save for last man Daryn Dupavillon (0), who popped a return catch back to the St Stithians product.

Opener Divan van Wyk was the only Dolphins batsman to resist for long, batting for 204 minutes and scoring 56 before he chopped Rabada into his own stumps.

Rabada is the youngest South African to take 13 wickets in a first-class match and he will surely continue to follow in Steyn’s considerable footsteps.

 



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