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Ken Borland



Du Toit looks to Stormers after turning back on Sharks 0

Posted on August 10, 2017 by Ken

 

Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit looks set to become a Stormers player after announcing his decision on Tuesday to leave the Sharks at the end of October.

Du Toit was scouted by the Sharks while still at school at Swartland High School in Malmesbury, but the highly-promising 22-year-old has proven injury-prone with two serious knee injuries in the last two years.

Having earlier said he owed loyalty to the Sharks for looking after him during these tough times, it now seems he is going to Cape Town. The Stormers have not officially confirmed his signing but did reveal two weeks ago that they were negotiating with him.

“Our medical team has invested immense time and effort into Pieter-Steph’s rehabilitation and recovery process and we are saddened to lose him, but I guess we cannot hold the player back if he has made up his mind,” Sharks CEO John Smit said.

Du Toit is believed to be in a relationship with a physiotherapist that works with the Stormers.

On the plus side for the Sharks, they have confirmed powerhouse flank Marcell Coetzee has signed for another two years.

New scrum laws will boost Argentina’s bajada 0

Posted on November 22, 2016 by Ken

 

Argentina is a rising power in world rugby and they are set to be boosted even further by the new scrummaging laws, which are tailor-made for their famous bajada scrum technique.

 The Springboks will be the first to tackle the Pumas since the introduction of the “crouch, bind, set” scrum engagement when they meet at the FNB Stadium on Saturday and they could be in for a shock.

Argentina was introduced into the Rugby Championship last year and made an impressive entry into the big league, proving plucky opponents as they even managed a draw against the Springboks in Mendoza.

After a largely disappointing third-place finish in last year’s competition, the Springboks will want to get into their stride far quicker this season, but the Pumas’ strength is in the pack and the new scrum laws will only magnify that.

The emphasis at scrum-time will now change from being on the “hit” to technique, something the Argentineans have been famous for and many rugby fans in the South American country are looking forward to the return of the bajada as the potent weapon it used to be.

The bajada is all about the entire pack working as a unit and channelling their power through the hooker, with the speed with which a front row can get the “hit” no longer a factor because they have to pre-bind before the engagement.

The co-ordinated, cohesive nature of the bajada scrum is exactly what the new scrum laws will favour, judging by what Springbok scrum coach Pieter de Villiers said on Tuesday.

“It’s going to be a learning process for players worldwide who have practised their trade over the last 10 years with the ‘hit’ scrum and it’s a big change. Speed won’t be as important and the frustration over grey areas in decisions, especially when binds slip, often because of tricks of the trade, has been dealt with.

“It’s now very important for the scrum to stand together and have endurance and it’s become a much tougher battle. It’s more about sound technique and endurance now and it’s more important for your whole pack to work together. The pack operating as a unit is vital,” De Villiers said.

The Springbok scrum has not always lived up to its reputation in recent years and those dastardly Australians who seem to spend their life trying to avoid proper scrums have even taken a couple of pot shots at the South Africans, saying the new laws will expose them more than anyone else.

The new engagement places a higher premium on scrummaging technique rather than skill in winning the “hit” and it is the Springboks’ lack of depth at tighthead prop, the most technical position in the pack, that suggests Saturday night could be a tough time for them.

De Villiers, having played 69 times for France, is well aware that the Pumas are masters of the dark arts of scrummaging.

“Their passion for scrummaging will always be there. They’re short, stocky guys and difficult to move and we expect them to have a strong, stable base at scrum time,” De Villiers said.

Jannie du Plessis is right up there with the best tightheads in world rugby but he has played so much over the last two years that a serious injury seems almost inevitable and there are no other specialist number threes in the Springbok squad. Coach Heyneke Meyer believes the sky is the limit for young Coenie Oosthuizen, the Cheetahs loosehead he is converting into a tighthead.

De Villiers expressed confidence in Oosthuizen’s ability to make the change, if not with the same enthusiasm as Meyer has done.

“Coenie is progressing very well. You must remember everyone is starting with a clean slate now because of the new laws and it’s important to see how Coenie adapts. But even the top tightheads in world rugby have to start afresh,” De Villiers said.

Meanwhile, Springbok backline coach Ricardo Loubscher stressed that despite all the attention focused on the scrums, the Argentines’ backline strengths are not being ignored.

“Most of their backs play in Europe and they are world-class. Given the opportunity, they can finish, their outside backs are quick and have had plenty of exposure to sevens rugby. So we need to prepare well against them too,” Loubscher warned.

Another area where South African has not looked too clever in terms of depth has been scrumhalf and the new lenient approach to choosing overseas-based players made it inevitable that Meyer would call on Fourie du Preez, one of the players he built the champion Bulls team around.

The Springbok coach has made it clear he is relying on Du Preez’s experience and game management abilities to lift their performance and Loubscher said those strengths were already evident on the training field.

“He’s a world-class player, there’s no need to elaborate on his credentials. He just slotted right back in, I was impressed, I thought he did really well in training. He brings great experience to the team, you can see the way he talks with players like JJ Engelbrecht and Willie le Roux, who haven’t played in the Rugby Championship before, and he makes it much easier for me as the backline coach,” Loubscher said.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-08-14-rugby-dont-cry-for-argentina/#.WDQ6FrJ97IU

‘A good result but not a top-class performance’ – Gold 0

Posted on March 01, 2016 by Ken

 

Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold was happy with the result but not entirely satisfied by the performance in relation to the top-class standards he has set, after his team started their SuperRugby campaign with a 43-8 bonus point win over the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth.

The Sharks struggled in the first half against a tenacious Kings outfit, making numerous basic errors and showing lapses in discipline. They only led 15-8 at the break, with the home side spurning five points via missed kicks at goal, but the Sharks turned it on in the second half, scoring four more impressive tries as they stormed to victory.

“Obviously I’m by and large happy, to get five points on the first weekend is good, but there were a lot of opportunities we didn’t take, which we should have by the standards we set ourselves. I completely understand that you’re not going to get a perfect game first up, but there were some obvious opportunities we wasted,” Gold said.

When the Sharks were able to get quick ball, they looked dangerous, and the likes of Willie le Roux, Paul Jordaan, Joe Pietersen and wings Odwa Ndungane and Lwazi Mvovo broke free in the second half.

“We definitely asked some questions on attack and we’ll get better the longer we are together. The defence was also very good and we scrambled well, but there is definitely room for improvement, especially because we play the Jaguares next, who I thought were very good on the weekend. We’ll need a lot better set-piece,” Gold added.

Ndungane showed he is still a clinical finisher with two tries, with the others going to man of the match Jean-Luc du Preez, who produced another powerhouse performance in the loose trio, Le Roux, Jordaan, who showed very promising signs at outside centre, and Mvovo. Pietersen missed just one kick at goal as he slotted five conversions and a penalty, while also distributing the ball well from flyhalf in the second half.

Fisher Jnr looking to cap big year 0

Posted on January 30, 2016 by Ken

It’s been a big year for Trevor Fisher Junior and he could cap it all in the Chase to the Investec Cup Final over the weekend as he goes into the defence of his title at number one in the standings and with his eyes set once again on the R3.5 million bonus pool first prize.

Fisher Junior described his victory in last year’s event – winning both the tournament and the bonus pool prize – as life-changing and the 35-year-old then added victory in the Africa Open and a cherished European Tour exemption to his CV two weeks ago.

The Modderfontein golfer has a lead of 111.73 points in the standings and will collect a minimum of 180 points even if he finishes 30th and last in the elite-field event. Victory in the final comes with 1500 points, so that means there are 21 golfers who can catch Fisher Junior.

And Charl Schwartzel, South Africa’s highest-ranked golfer at number 33, is one of those in the field.

Schwartzel is currently at 14th in the Investec Cup standings, 1160.65 points behind Fisher Junior, but his focus is half on the Masters next month at Augusta, where he won in 2011.

George Coetzee, at number 67 in the world rankings, won the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club last weekend in a display of impressive attacking golf and he will clearly be a threat this weekend as well.

The Investec Cup final starts at the Millvale Private Retreat in Koster, outside Rustenburg, on Thursday and, after two rounds there, moves to the Lost City course at Sun City for the finale.

Coetzee led going into the last round at the Lost City last year before being overtaken by Fisher Junior, so he has a score to settle.

The overseas challenge will be led by Morten Orum Madsen, the former SA Open champion, who is 19th in the standings.

The other South Africans who are strongly in the running for the bonus pool are Jacques Blaauw, second in the Tshwane Open last weekend, Danie van Tonder, Jaco Ahlers and the consistent Dean Burmester.

http://citizen.co.za/346429/fisher-junior-looking-to-cap-big-year/



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