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Ken Borland

When there are problems in a relationship, people start looking elsewhere 0

Posted on August 08, 2017 by Ken


When the chief executive of SA Rugby talks about “problems in Sanzaar” and feeling “shackled” by the southern hemisphere rugby body, then it is clear South African rugby sees its future as lying elsewhere.

But while Jurie Roux admitted to SA Rugby’s relationship with Sanzaar not being ideal, he stressed that there were no plans to leave the alliance with New Zealand, Australia and Argentina, even though South African rugby will be dallying elsewhere with northern hemisphere competitions like the Pro14.

“This is a very exciting time for South African rugby. We feel shackled in Sanzaar but now we have the opportunity to go north. It gives us options. People think that the Pro14 move is just about the Cheetahs and Kings, but it’s so much more than that.

“With the world calendar not aligned, we were all signing six or seven-year deals that were out of sync with each other. But now we have so many more opportunities and options. I’m super-excited for the Pro14. It’s an elegant solution for our Sanzaar problems,” Roux said on Monday at the announcement of FNB becoming a sponsor of the Springboks.

“We don’t have options in Sanzaar, which means you’re actually nowhere and that’s not where you want to be. But we are really good for each other, so we will still participate in Sanzaar; we are strong because we play against Australia and New Zealand.

“But we can never have eight franchises in Sanzaar, we can have four or five maximum and maybe we’ll even go down to three. But at least we now have options. We still need to play against Australia and New Zealand to be the best, so I don’t see the relationship ending. It’s just the way and how we play that will change. And we’ll have more international exposure up north,” Roux said.

The CEO added that the whole structure of South African rugby competitions would change in 2020 when the global calendar kicks into play.

Roux admitted that the Kings and Cheetahs were like guinea-pigs as they take the first steps into the brave new world of European rugby.

“The Kings will be ready, but it will be a very tough first year for them, although they’ve gone through that before and done pretty well, with Deon Davids one of the most under-rated coaches around; you must watch them from the second year onwards. The Cheetahs are more established and will be there or thereabouts.

“We needed to go north at some stage and we’ll have proof of concept now, you’ll be able to see if it works,” Roux said.

Do Sanzaar & TMOs act with fairness? 0

Posted on April 14, 2016 by Ken


Sanzaar’s decision to slap Sharks coach Gary Gold with a fine of A$13 500 – which is more than R150 000 – has once again raised the infuriating issue of whether southern hemisphere rugby’s governing body acts with fairness in disciplinary matters concerning South African teams.

Gold was fined for having a less-than-polite chat during the game against the Crusaders with TMO Johan Greeff. The Sharks – and many other teams – have history with this woefully incompetent official as it was his abysmal decision to award a try that saw them lose to the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld last year.

While I have no problem with Gold being fined – even he admitted that what he did was wrong – what raised my ire was the severity of the punishment handed down by Kiwi judicial officer Nigel Hampton.

Especially when one considers that the selfsame Hampton only fined then-Waratahs coach Michael Cheika A$6000 in April 2014 for abusing a cameraman in Durban, also with foul language. And Cheika was a repeat offender, as Hampton himself pointed out in his judgement – “I do not regard Mr Cheika to be a first-time offender and it would be farcical to disregard other matters over the past nine years, including proven misconduct allegations from his time as a professional coach in Europe and a warning from Sanzar during the 2013 SuperRugby season,” he said.

“This matter bears a number of striking similarities with past instances, particularly the use of foul and abusive language towards those charged with running a match and the propensity of Mr Cheika to behave in this manner is disturbing. Given his previous record and the factual findings of the investigation, I regard this as a serious offence and do not see it as a result of any provocation, nor is there any excuse for it.

“Mr Cheika’s admission of guilt and contrition during the hearing is balanced by inappropriate accusations made on his behalf that witnesses fabricated evidence; a notion they rightly recoiled at.”

Cheika was also found guilty, last year, of approaching a referee at halftime and, guess what? Sanzar let him off with a warning!

What is equally infuriating is that Sanzaar continue to come down hard on the symptom of the problem and not the cause – which is incompetent TMOs.

While I have great sympathy for referees, who have to make split-second rulings based on a bewildering variety of laws, especially at ruck time, TMOs really should not be making the mistakes they do. Knowing the laws is one thing, but not being able to see or interpret several replays properly is another; I’d be willing to wager that you could drag someone out of the crowd in their denim jeans and they could do a better job than some of the TMOs Sanzaar have inflicted on the game.

Greeff’s failure to properly review two occurrences in the game against the Crusaders had an obvious impact on the result of the match.

The first was Willie le Roux’s disallowed try in the 66th minute that would have given the Sharks a 19-12 lead. Greeff made a rapid decision that the fullback was in front of the kicker but he made use of just one replay, and the camera angle wasn’t even in line with play.

Then, in the 72nd minute, when Kieran Read scored to give the Crusaders a 19-14 victory, Greeff declined to look at a replay after there had been a suggestion of a knock-on in the 15-phase build-up to the try.

Much of the rugby public is already feeling confused and disenchanted with SuperRugby and its new format; when the officials are seemingly watching an entirely different game to them on TV, despite having the benefit of several replays, then the usual reaction is one of anger and frustration and no brand should want the customers to go through that.


Sanzar are expanding – 18th franchise up for grabs 0

Posted on May 12, 2014 by Ken

Sanzar are expanding the SuperRugby competition in 2016 and this has caused them to introduce a new four-conference system for the Southern Hemisphere’s premier rugby tournament.

The Australian and New Zealand conferences are staying the same, but the South African group is being split into two conferences, featuring three new franchises. Argentinean participation in SuperRugby has been confirmed with a team to be based in Buenos Aires, while the Southern Kings will in all likelihood be the sixth South African franchise.

This leaves space for another franchise – the 18th SuperRugby team – and Sanzar are throwing this open to a worldwide tender process.

The six South African franchises will be split into two conferences, with the Argentinean team in one and the new 18th participant in the other. The one African conference will only play the Australian franchises in the group stages, while the other will take on the New Zealand sides, but the disappointment of not playing everybody has been counteracted by having to travel less and by restoring some of the mystique surrounding the overseas teams because now they won’t be seen in South Africa every year.

While the South African Rugby Union ditched plans to join an Anglo-French competition – insiders say the IRB would never allow it because it would destroy the strength of the Celtic nations and there are long-term doubts about the viability of a French model that has so many overseas players – they are still keen to increase contact with Europe.

Given the similarity of time zone and the relative ease of travel, it would make sense for South Africa (the most lucrative market in Sanzar) to push for the 18th franchise to be based in Europe, and France are still the financial powerhouses of rugby in the Northern Hemisphere.

To run a SuperRugby franchise costs around $8-10 million and that is well within the reach of someone like Mourad Boudjellal, who has already led Toulon to the Holy Grail of the Heineken Cup.

Sanzar CEO Greg Peters

Sanzar CEO Greg Peters told Midi Olympique that the selection of the 18th franchise will rest on the rugby readiness (can they field a competitive team?), commercial programme (will they add sustainable value to Sanzar?) and infrastructure (including geographical factors like time zones) of the applicants.

“It’s an open tender process and the reality is that anyone can apply. We’ve sent Expression of Interest documents to a number of parties already and from June 2 we will start deciding on a short-list of serious contenders.

“We’re obviously looking at viability, a comprehensive business plan and can they rely on their surrounding community to engage with the brand? Will they be able to create interest within their community? It would obviously be a massive risk to take a franchise to where they don’t play rugby at all. Time zones are also a big factor for the broadcasters,” Peters said.

Apparently Singapore have their eyes on a franchise, but they would be reliant on importing players from around the world.

French clubs, already so successful on the European stage, may have their eyes on an expansion of their own.

The new SuperRugby format is by no means perfect, but it represents the best compromise that could be made between the competing interests of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

Argentina have now been added to that club and many in the Southern Hemisphere will be hoping for some European flavour being introduced as well.



  • All teams will play 15 regular season matches (eight home/seven away or seven home/eight away) made up of:
    • 4 matches (two home/ two away) against one of the African Conferences
    • 5 matches (either two home/three away or three home/two away) against an Australasian Conference
    • 6 matches within their own Conference (three home/ three away)
    • All four conference winners will automatically host a quarter-final
    • They will be opposed by four wildcard teams who will be
      • the next three highest placed teams in the Australasian Group
      • the next highest placed team in the South African Group
      • The winners will contest the semi-finals with home field advantage going to the highest-placed team on overall standings points.


See for a graphic representation of the new format.




SA Super franchise to lose place 0

Posted on January 27, 2012 by Ken

One of South Africa’s current five Super Rugby franchises will lose their place in the southern hemisphere provincial competition after the South African Rugby Union (Saru) confirmed on Friday that the Southern Kings will enter the competition in 2013.

That means one of the existing franchises – the Stormers, Sharks, Bulls, Cheetahs or Lions – will be out of the lucrative tournament, unless Saru can somehow convince Sanzar (South Africa-New Zealand-Australia rugby) to allow a sixth South African team to play in the competition.

“The Kings’ place in the Super Rugby competition in 2013 was confirmed by the general council, who gave it 100% support,” Saru chief executive Jurie Roux told a news conference in Cape Town on Friday.

“A final decision on the fate of the other five franchises will be made at a special general meeting on March 30 after the council has considered recommendations by the unions. There are a number of options, including asking Sanzar to include a sixth South African team,” Roux said.

The Southern Kings are based in the Eastern Cape – the hotbed of black rugby – and their inclusion in Super Rugby has been backed by politicians and those unhappy with the pace of transformation in South African rugby. None of their constituent teams – Eastern Province, South-Western Districts and Border – play in the premier division of South Africa’s domestic Currie Cup competition.

Eastern Province were beaten 43-12 by Boland in last year’s First Division final.

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