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Ken Borland



John McFarland Column: How to beat the All Blacks 0

Posted on July 12, 2017 by Ken

 

It was an enthralling final Test between the All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions, and a tremendous achievement for the visitors to draw a series in New Zealand. Every international coach will have looked at the three Tests and will take something from them – it has shown it is possible to beat the All Blacks.

So how did the Lions achieve this?

Firstly, their defence over the three Tests was superb, so hats off to the Farrell family.

It’s no coincidence that most of New Zealand’s losses over the last few years have been caused by a rush defence and a high line speed, so Lions, England and Ireland defence coach Andy Farrell should really take a bow – he has now enjoyed three wins and a draw against the All Blacks since 2013.

And then there was his son Owen’s kicking. None of his kicks at goal in the last Test were gimmes and it was very interesting to see that even with Jonny Sexton, who has such a high success rate in his kicking record, at flyhalf, the Lions went with Farrell for goalkicking and that’s what made the difference in the end.

The All Blacks were disciplined in their own 22, but were prepared to give away penalties further away from their line, and Farrell kept the Lions in the game.

It was the defence that was able to disrupt the New Zealand attacking structure, they weren’t really able to go forward or get the ball wide, because the Lions totally dominated the gain-line and the rush-defence took time and space away from Beauden Barrett. But it didn’t operate from a tight base, the wings were on the second-last runners and would not always engage, sometimes they would back off on to the last runner, therefore there was no kicking space behind them.

The Lions also chose two openside flanks who were a real nuisance at the breakdown.

The biggest thing about the rush-defence is that it means you are so square in the tackle, you line up your man and come forward, there’s no shifting. The Lions tackling was very confrontational, they didn’t really hit the legs but tended to be just under the ball. This forced more errors and led to dominance in the tackle; a softer defence relies on leg-tackles and a confrontational rush-defence on chest tackles. You can see it unnerved the All Blacks and with the quality of defenders the Lions had – players like Jonathan Davies, Maro Itoje, Sam Warburton and Sean O’Brien – the system totally suited them.

The shift put in by the Lions forwards at the coalface was also amazing and New Zealand could not get any offloads or tip-passes going at all. The Lions cleverly took out the support players, so the ball was wide open at the breakdowns. The quality of the tackles and the athletes involved meant that on the tip-ons, they frequently took the passer out of play, which exposed the ball-carrier and then the turnover could happen.

What was especially interesting to me was that New Zealand just could not get the ball to the outside channels in space, and even if they tried, Barrett was frequently standing still and then it was easy for the Lions to pick off the carriers.

The way to break down the rush-defence is through the kick-pass and offloading from contact and it’s no coincidence that the All Blacks scored from this.

The Lions also relied tremendously on Conor Murray’s box-kicking. There was no messing around here – they would maul or box-kick immediately from the restart and that put pressure on the New Zealand wings, thanks to the quality of Murray’s kicking and exits.

For me, Murray was the real star of the series, his tactical control was superb; him kicking contestables meant the All Blacks never had a chance to counter-attack or get the ball back from the Lions back three with running bombs.

The New Zealand attack was very static. They wanted a two-sided attack against the rush-defence, but they played a lot of one-pass rugby, which made it quite easy to defend.

One of the key moments of the final Test was the chase back of Davies on Ngani Laumape after Barrett’s intercept, it was just superb. It was a series-turning moment and the other players get really excited when they see that sort of attitude and commitment from a team-mate.

It was an enthralling finish to the series, but it’s a pity to see such a great Test end with all the focus on Mr Roman Poite.

His eccentricities have been exposed even before Eden Park last weekend: there was the red card he gave Bismarck du Plessis at Eden Park in 2013, his performance in the World Cup and against Argentina in 2014 when there were seven water-carriers on the field during a stoppage and he allowed the Pumas to take a quick tap, which resulted in a try just before halftime. The last defender in the Springbok backline was our physio, Rene Naylor!

It was good, though, that Poite reviewed the incident at the end of last weekend’s game and I think Craig Joubert will be wishing he had done the same in 2015 in the Scotland v Australia game at the World Cup. That’s what the TMO is there for and at least Poite used it. But rugby has to eliminate these grey areas because referees have to make hard decisions in a very short time.

I thought Poite was also really poor in the lineouts, there was taking out of jumpers left, right and centre, it was like a free-for-all. New Zealand also seemed to have some dominance in that final scrum and there could have been a penalty to them, but again he opted out.

The All Blacks ended up playing a lot of guys with just a handful of caps, which is not what you want in high-pressured Tests. Injuries and Sonny Bill Williams’ self-inflicted absence obviously affected them and you want more caps for the big games like last weekend. They ended with Laumape at 12 and Anton Lienert-Brown at 13 and they are actually both inside centres, both confrontational and direct. The Lions started with a similar sort of player in Ben Te’o, but then switched to Sexton and Farrell and had far more ball-playing ability to stretch the All Blacks.

One has to credit coach Warren Gatland for wearing his red nose with pride. He might just hang around and is probably very excited about a third tour with the Lions, against the Springboks in 2021.

It will be interesting to see whether the Springboks pick Cheetahs or Kings players for that tour because it will be the end of their season in Europe!

 

 

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.

Stats & personal experience show new quotas are a mixed success 0

Posted on February 29, 2016 by Ken

 

Hopefully this year Cricket South Africa (CSA) will call in the consultants and the experts before making any decisions about transformation quotas in franchise cricket, but something that happened in the lift at the Wanderers suggests this season’s increased targets have been a mixed success.

It was after the T20 international against England and a group of youngish Black African fans, three guys and a woman, walked into the lift in animated, festive mood, having obviously had a good evening.

They were raving about the whole Wanderers stadium experience and one of them said “I’ve actually been to the Wanderers more times this season than I ever have before!”

Now, considering that there have only been three international matches in Johannesburg this summer, that tells you that the demographic most sought after by CSA is coming to franchise matches, which is surely a good thing.

I had a more scientific look at the situation via the averages and they show that there are several Black African bowlers of quality. The Knights are challenging for the Sunfoil Series title thanks to the efforts of Mbulelo Budaza, Tumi Masekela and Malusi Siboto, who have taken 39 wickets between them at an average of 15.25 at the halfway mark, providing superb support for Duanne Olivier (19 wkts @ 14.84).

Ethy Mbhalati is top of the Titans averages with 18 wickets at an average of 17, while, in the Momentum One-Day Cup, Siboto is the leading wicket-taker with 19, Junior Dala is third with 16, Tshepo Moreki has 15 scalps and Sisanda Magala 14. Eddie Leie and Andile Phehlukwayo have both taken 11 wickets, while Pumelela Matshikwe and Aaron Phangiso have been amongst the most economical bowlers in the competition, helping the Highveld Lions to the final.

Some of the same names featured prominently in the RamSlam T20 Challenge, with Magala finishing with the second-most wickets, Phangiso and Siboto having outstanding campaigns in terms of both wickets and economy, while Leie and Phehlukwayo were both among the leading wicket-takers. Lungi Ngidi showed promise in seven matches for the Titans.

But in terms of the bowlers, we already knew that was where the Black African talent is concentrated. Where are the batsmen looking to follow Temba Bavuma?

An average of 39 for Omphile Ramela is a bit disappointing for him considering he averaged 48 for the Cape Cobras last season, while there have been brief flashes of brilliance from Mangaliso Mosehle with his spectacular match-winning innings in the T20 final, Khaya Zondo in the One-Day Cup and Letlotlo Sesele, Thami Tsolekile and Somila Seyibokwe here and there.

To be fair though, the batting averages are dominated in general by the old guard – Vilas, Petersen, Cook, Kuhn, Ontong, Smit and Ingram.

As predicted in this column before the season started, coloured players are the ones losing out most in terms of opportunity and CSA are going to have to undergo a thorough review with the franchise coaches, players’ association and Corrie van Zyl’s cricket department to properly unpick the effects of a new system that was implemented on the whim of an individual.

There is currently a lot of negativity around South African domestic cricket, but to some extent the quality of local competition has always ebbed and flowed.

What is clear is that some of the sternest critics are sourcing their information from the sort of people who thought Geoff Toyana fielding for the Lions last week was due to quotas. What nonsense, especially since it was a White student who eventually replaced the coach as an emergency 12th man, forced into duty due to two injuries, one in the warm-up and one in the first half-hour.

These are the same sort of people who think protesters interrupting a rugby match is racist. How on earth does that make sense unless they believe rugby actually belongs to white people?

Fortunately cricket is further down the road away from that attitude. If the majority of the population love cricket, it can only be good for the game.

Good things have happened recently as well … 0

Posted on December 19, 2015 by Ken

 

Some awful things have happened in South Africa over the last 10 days, reflecting themselves in a depressing pall of negativity over a land that seems to have forgotten the miracle of the Rainbow Nation. Even us sports writers, fortunate as we are to pursue a career in something we love, are affected by the politics of the day.

Of course the results of our sporting heroes – and let’s be honest it’s been a poor year for South Africa – do affect us as well, although I always try to remember that it’s only a game. It’s far more important what sport can achieve in terms of bringing people together and changing lives.

So I’m delighted to report some good news in these tough times, a few encouraging things that have happened.

It is not easy to achieve complete transformation and equality because change is usually met with resistance and there is centuries of injustice to correct. It is difficult to come up with the right answers when one is trying to ensure representivity but also endeavouring to maintain standards and also do the right thing by the people you are trying to uplift.

It was most encouraging then to see our Springbok Sevens team triumph in the Cape Town stage of the World Series and do it with a fully transformed side. Following the blows to rugby’s transformation record at the 15-man World Cup, it was a timely reminder that there is plenty of black talent out there, it just needs to be nurtured.

Cricket had its own transformation scandal during their World Cup earlier in the year but it still seemed a low blow when Mark Nicholas, a former English county cricketer now commentating on Australian TV, suggested that South Africa will be the next international team to be “severely threatened” by the same disintegration that has afflicted West Indian cricket.

The financial situation outside of the Big Three is obviously a concern for Cricket South Africa, although it is ironic that the plummeting of the rand probably helps them (due to the sale of television rights in dollars) while it spells grave danger for rugby. But CEO Haroon Lorgat, a qualified chartered accountant, is a forward-thinking man and the organisation is running in a much leaner, efficient fashion than before.

Whatever White South Africans might think, the future of this country’s sport is Black – it’s simple economics and obvious when one considers the population.

The RamSlam T20 Challenge final at Centurion was a top-class evening, boasting great cricket, a sell-out crowd – one of the best I’ve seen for a domestic match since the days of isolation – and even the hero of the game was a Black player – Mangaliso Mosehle.

For me, the final offered a glimpse of what the future of South African cricket could be – and it took a lot of effort on the part of Cricket South Africa, the Titans and their marketing partners.

A thoroughly New South Africa crowd was entertained by Black Coffee and Euphonik; whereas Steve Hofmeyr would have been favoured by previous administrations.

I can only presume that Nicholas has been spending too much time with some of the expats in Australia who are notorious for broadcasting their opinion that everything is a nightmare in South Africa.

The day after the final, I spent the morning at Killarney Country Club where their Mandela Day fundraising is being put to good use coaching traumatised children in golf and tennis as part of their therapy. The sheer joy of the children and how apparent it was that they loved what they are doing, once again showed how much opportunity there is for sports bodies to tap into the raw talent that is there and hungry to be found.

The RamSlam T20 Challenge final,the Springbok Sevens’ success and the kids at Killarney Country Club showed what can be built when there is a will to be inclusive and a desire to spread the game and utilise the talent present in all communities.

 

 

 

Rugby uses its testosterone in the fight against rape 0

Posted on September 29, 2015 by Ken

 

Too much aggression and testosterone are often factors which get the blame for South Africa’s horrific rape statistics, but one brave survivor has teamed up with rugby sides to turn these integral parts of the game into something beneficial for the fight against violent sexual abuse.

The Jes Foord Cup, which is named after the founder of the Jes Foord Foundation, will be played for on Saturday in Durban between the first teams of the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Durban Collegians. But the day is about so much more than just two rugby teams slugging it out for some silverware.

The University of KZN Rugby Club and Durban Collegians, in conjunction with the Jes Foord Foundation, have formed the Rugby Against Rape charity and the annual rugby day will see eight men’s teams from both the Durban and Pietermaritzburg campuses and four women’s teams in action as not only money but also tremendous awareness is raised about the scourge of rape.

In an incident which shocked KwaZulu-Natal in March 2008, the then 21-year-old Foord was gang-raped by four men at Shongweni Dam while walking with her father, who was forced to watch the awful assault at gunpoint.

But Foord vowed not to allow the terrible incident to destroy her and decided to speak out, forming the Jes Foord Foundation.

“I formed the foundation to help restore lives after rape by way of a number of initiatives and activities designed to change rape victims into rape survivors. I want to educate people and help them realise that there is life after rape,” Foord says.

Her rapists were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2009 and since then the Jes Foord Foundation has helped hundreds of rape survivors regain their dignity and self-esteem.

A bunch of young rugger buggers might seem an odd choice of partner for such a charity, but Foord said the varsity students were the ideal fit for her efforts to increase awareness around rape.

“I wanted to activate young adults and what better target than someone big and strong. When I tell the rugby players my story, I see their faces and they are absolutely silent for the whole talk, they want to be involved and they want to know how they can stop rape.

“I tell them that during one rugby match, in the 80 minutes excluding half-time, 282 people are raped. I tell them to play for them and it breaks their hearts that while they are having fun, running around, so many people suffer rape. I tell them to direct their anger towards helping the survivors and not towards the perpetrators,” Foord told The Daily Maverick.

“At this age, many of them are starting to think of settling down with a wife, but if not, it could be their daughters, sisters or mothers who get raped. In any case, it’s always someone’s daughter, sister or mother who is raped.”

Mark Schulze, a University of KZN Rugby Club executive committee member and former scrumhalf, said the players were thrilled to get the opportunity to help such a worthy cause.

“There’s been a very good response and the guys have jumped at the opportunity to help. They are tjoepstil when Jes talks and the fact that rugby is an aggressive sport fits in perfectly with the target market and the message she is trying to get across. Rape is happening to people left and right and there are a lot of vulnerable people on our campuses. She’s removed the taboo around speaking out about rape very successfully,” Schulze said.

Efforts to help rape survivors have often been marred by the shoddy, insensitive treatment they receive immediately after the attack and ensuring they get special care is a focus of the Jes Foord Foundation.

Because their body is literally a crime scene, rape victims are told not to shower or clean themselves by police, which they are understandably desperate to do.

“After my rape, I felt so dirty. But it’s not just that you have dirt or blood on you, it’s a whole new, deeper level of dirty. You have their smell on you, their sweat. You are desperate to scrub it off.

“I received a care package from a local pharmacy with so many special products in it to help feel clean again. And I thought, what about all those survivors who don’t get this, who just have a bar of soap and a bucket of water?” Foord said.

So Foord instituted the Handbag Project which distributes bags that contain an assortment of toiletry items, a scrubbing brush, sanitary towel, clean new underwear, a personal gift and an encouraging note to let a survivor know she is not alone.

Over 2,000 handbags were distributed by the foundation last year and members of the public can help them reach their target of 10,000 this year by donating supplies, handbags or funds to support the project; volunteering for a handbag-packing day; organising a drive for supplies or a volunteer bag-packing day in your area; or volunteering to become a depot for the Handbag Project in your area.

Read more:

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-05-15-rugby-against-rape/#.VhJf-_mqqkp



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