for quality writing

Ken Borland



Chapter & verse from Coetzee, and then what? 0

Posted on December 10, 2017 by Ken

 

In the next week, national coach Allister Coetzee will have to give chapter and verse on what happened to the Springboks this year to the SA Rugby executive council and if he stays true to his public pronouncements after the loss to Wales, then he will describe his charges as “a side that is on the up” and having “a really healthy team environment”.

Which is nothing but a sop for a South African public that rightly expects top-class performances from their national rugby team. Instead, the Springboks have endured a decidedly mediocre year, without a single rousing victory for Coetzee to rave about at his performance review. Victories over France, Argentina and Italy are not results we would expect the Springboks to boast about, and neither were two draws against a very average Australian side.

The results have been disappointing enough but to add insult to injury, the Springboks are playing such uninspired rugby that it feels like we are back to the most conservative days early on in Heyneke Meyer’s tenure as national coach.

Simply put, the Springboks are not making any progress under Coetzee. In fact, we have seen two more unwanted milestones set this year in record defeats to New Zealand and Ireland.

To put an end to this continued slide into mediocrity, SA Rugby simply have to hold Coetzee accountable and relieve him of his duties as Springbok coach. I had sympathy for him this time last year because he was coaching with one hand tied behind his back, perhaps even being set up to fail, but this year he has been given everything he wanted and even said at the start of the campaign that there were no excuses this year.

In the general public, Rassie Erasmus, freshly back in the post of director of rugby, is seen as the obvious candidate to replace Coetzee and try and rescue South Africa’s hopes for the 2019 World Cup.

But Erasmus has shown little desire to emerge from the shadows, from which he has been strategising, and there seems little doubt that the rumours that Deon Davids of the Southern Kings will be the new Springbok coach have emanated from his office via his usual journalistic channels.

Davids has done wonders with the Kings considering the lack of resources, both in terms of players and finance, and time he has had to deal with, and is highly-rated as a coach. But other players and coaches tell me he would be out of his depth at international level.

I do have a fundamental problem, though, if Davids is appointed to merely be the face of the Springboks with Erasmus making all the big decisions.

The Springbok coach needs to be accountable to the fans and he needs to be regularly available to the media to explain his decisions; something Coetzee and those before him have never shirked. Erasmus cannot be allowed to be pulling the strings and not seen to be answerable for the national team’s performance.

As Springbok coach, Coetzee has made some stupid selections (such as neutralising Eben Etzebeth as an enforcer by making him captain) and has rightly been called to task for them; Erasmus cannot be allowed to operate as a dictatorial figure whose instructions are not open to scrutiny.

The time has come for change, but as in Zimbabwean politics, there are concerns that the change won’t necessarily be for the better. The smooth-talking Erasmus has been able to con a lot of people in recent years, but perhaps now is the time for him to display his rugby acumen in the frontline, under the glare of the television cameras and the beady eye of the fourth estate.

 

Boks fitter than ever to do justice to up-tempo hopes – De Allende 0

Posted on April 10, 2017 by Ken

 

Centre Damian de Allende said on Wednesday that the Springboks have focused on being fitter than ever this year in order to do justice to the more high-tempo game plan most people are hoping they implement in 2017.

With the Lions being the country’s most successful Super Rugby side, there has been pressure on the Springboks to emulate their expansive, up-tempo style of play, but as De Allende pointed out, the groundwork has to be laid for that in terms of fitness and training.

“It’s tough to play that way if physically you’re not there. You also have to train that way and for a lot of seasons teams have wanted to play that way, but we haven’t trained like that.

“But this year we’ve all been striving for that, the plan is to make our play more dynamic, and our fitness levels have improved immensely. At the start of the season I was probably the fittest I’ve ever been.

“The Stormers are now training like that, we’re not perfect yet, but we’ve come a long way  and we’ve scored some great tries, even from our own 22. We’re still getting better,” De Allende said.

The 25-year-old said he hopes the new international season sees the Springboks all on the same page.

“Every Super Rugby franchise is heading in the same direction and once we all join the Springboks, I hope we’re all on the same page, we should all have the same fitness levels. We’ve changed our mindset a lot and I hope we can all combine better,” he said.

De Allende is still in a moon boot following his ankle injury, but is hopeful that the latter half of May will see his return to action.

 

Unity & resilience the major factors in success: Domingo 0

Posted on December 06, 2016 by Ken

 

Proteas coach Russell Domingo said on Tuesday upon his return to South Africa that the unity and resilience of the team had been the major factors in their stunning resurgence this year, highlighted by their Test series triumph in Australia.

“It’s been a combination of things and getting a few players back that we have missed a lot, like Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn, has made a massive difference. But the unity amongst the guys and the realisation of how important it is to play for your country has been very important.

“A few players have also come back into form, the team as a whole has got their confidence back, the belief has slowly been coming back, and although we’re not yet where I feel we can be, we’re heading in the right direction. This team prides itself on their resilience and we’re in a good space at the moment. We have to treasure and nurture that because things can change very quickly,” Domingo said at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

A year ago, Domingo was fighting to keep his job, but a limited-overs series whitewash of Australia and then winning the Test series in their backyard means the 42-year-old is sitting pretty and able to enjoy the contract extension until August 2017 he received last month.

“Coaches, like players, are always learning in terms of preparation and support staff. I don’t know if there have been massive changes in the way we coach, but the players have really stepped up. We still put in the same hours and hours to get the best out of them,” Domingo said.

While praising the captaincy of Faf du Plessis, Domingo reiterated the official position that AB de Villiers will resume as skipper when he returns for the series against Sri Lanka next month.

“Faf has matured in great fashion as a leader and is an outstanding captain. Fortunately he’s found some good form with the bat as well, so he’s able to lead from the front. But the bottom line is that AB is the captain and the status quo is set to remain. He only had two Tests as captain of this side, and he lost one and won one against England, so he needs to have a full crack, with my unstinting support,” Domingo said.

Du Plessis confirmed that he had thoroughly enjoyed the captaincy and described the second day of the first Test in Perth, when the Proteas recovered so magnificently from the huge setback of losing bowling spearhead Dale Steyn, as his best day on a cricket field.

“If there was one specific incident that won us the series, it was the turnaround in Perth. The belief that the team took from that session, sparked by resilience, was out of this world and it took the team to a new level of confidence. It’s probably the best session I’ve been part of on a cricket field, the way everyone stood up after losing Dale, which was incredibly hard, the whole team felt it, but somehow they just made it possible to bounce back.

“I’ve always enjoyed the captaincy, I feel it does bring out the best in me, but AB knows that I am 100% behind him. I’ve learnt a lot about myself as a leader and the great thing is that the team has three guys – myself, Hashim Amla and AB – who have been captains and we are all very similar in the way we want the culture of the team to move forward,” du Plessis said.

http://citizen.co.za/sport/1361363/unity-resilience-major-factors-test-series-success-says-domingo/

Fans licking their lips for top-class running rugby, but game-management the focus 0

Posted on May 26, 2016 by Ken

 

The Lions have produced some top-class running rugby this year and it is a style of play the Bulls are striving to replicate, which should have rugby fans licking their lips ahead of the big Gauteng SuperRugby derby at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.

But Bulls coach Nollis Marais believes his team need to focus more on their game-management skills than on trying to match the Lions at their own game and run them off their feet.

“Sometimes we’ve been playing too much rugby in our own 22, it’s attractive to run the ball, but you can’t do it from everywhere. If you make a mistake there in your own 22, you will be penalised. Playing in the wrong areas leads to putting yourselves under pressure,” Marais said.

“We’re still having the odd soft moments, but it’s much better than before. On Saturday against the Stormers there wasn’t a big dip in our performance. It’s all about game-management and the more experienced the players become, the better they will be at that. We learnt, although it wasn’t a nice experience, on tour against the Brumbies and Waratahs. We’ve battled with decision-making and game-management in the last few minutes of matches, but we did very well with that against the Stormers,” he added.

The Bulls know that, instead of trying too hard to play a free-flowing style of rugby, if they can dry up the Lions’ front-foot ball, as they did so effectively against the Stormers, then the South African pacesetters could find themselves struggling as they did against the Hurricanes four weeks ago.

But the Lions are a couple of years ahead of the Bulls when it comes to the sort of ball-in-hand, up-tempo play that is bringing renewal to South African rugby, so if they allow the visitors momentum on Saturday, it could lead to a major setback to their playoff hopes.



↑ Top