for quality writing

Ken Borland



Happy Boucher gives out praise & thanks 0

Posted on November 03, 2017 by Ken

 

Coach Mark Boucher was understandably a very happy man after the Multiply Titans’ victory over the bizhub Highveld Lions at the BidVest Wanderers Stadium sent his team into an 11-point lead at the top of the Sunfoil Series log, but he also took time out to praise Lungi Ngidi for his attitude during his rehabilitation and thanked his medical staff for their work on the hugely-promising fast bowler.

Ngidi spearheaded the Titans’ nine-wicket win with match figures of nine for 83 in his first game back from a stress fracture in his back.

“It was very satisfying to see Lungi come through and a lot of credit must go to the medical staff because it was a very serious injury for a fast bowler, a very scary time for him. But they started him bowling again in stages and he needed to change his lifestyle a bit.

“The door has opened up for him at international level, so I told Lungi it was up to him to bash it down. Well everyone has certainly got their eyes on him now! His body has developed, he’s stronger and leaner and his professionalism has changed too.

“So the results he achieved in his first game back were not really a surprise for me, although he is still a work in progress and he will get better. We were tempted to play him a week earlier in Pietermaritzburg, but the medical staff are hired to do a job and they said even though it was possible, they preferred not to rush him back then,” Boucher said.

On a sporty Wanderers pitch, Titans captain Aiden Markram was also a contender for man of the match after innings of 85 and 81 not out, continuing the youngster’s superb form this summer.

“Aiden is still scoring a lot of runs, which makes me very happy. When you look at him, it’s almost as if he’s destined for great things and he’s really taken to his role. He hasn’t been around for a long time, but he’s just looking more and more confident.

“I’m sure the Proteas will relish having him in their system and he understands that the opposition at international level will get tougher and people will start looking at his technique and try to find flaws. But Aiden’s feet are on the floor, that’s his character. He’s also a work in progress, but he’s hungry for runs and he did the hard yards in that first innings,” Boucher said.

But the coach also had praise for a player that is a fair way from playing for the Proteas, but has been an absolute standout for the Titans this season – Malusi Siboto.

The 30-year-old is the leading wicket-taker with 17 at 21.35 and he produced a top-class display in the second innings against the Lions, taking four for 26 as the home side were bundled out for just 165, leaving the Titans with a straightforward target of just 133 for the first win of the season.

“Last season as well, Malusi is an unsung hero, he does the hard work like bowling into the wind, and can keep the run-rate down as well as taking wickets. He’s also made crucial runs for us and we’re going to try and get him into being an all-rounder for us.

“In certain conditions, he’s the leader of our attack. He’s one of those guys that goes under the radar, but if he’s not there then he leaves a massive hole in the team,” Boucher said.

Credit to those who ensure real transformation 0

Posted on October 17, 2017 by Ken

 

Jacques Kallis has controversial views on transformation in cricket that have garnered him negative press in recent times, but what is seldom reported on is how his foundation every year pays for 10 previously disadvantaged children to attend top schools and thus ensure their lives are properly transformed.

Much of what is said and done in the name of transformation is mere self-serving political expediency or empty talk, so Kallis deserves credit for actually making a difference – the Jacques Kallis Foundation gives a full bursary to children who show cricketing talent, as well as academic merit and have financial needs, to attend one of four prestigious schools – Wynberg Boys High, Maritzburg College, Selborne or Pretoria Boys High.

Kallis himself admits that he would never have become the global cricket icon he is were it not for the bursary that paid for him to attend Wynberg, where his incredible talent flourished.

The profitability of these efforts, which have been in place since 2004 when Kallis started the foundation with the R550 000 he received from his Western Province benefit year, is best measured not by the cricketers it produces but by the lives it changes. An example of this is the young man who was given a bursary to Pretoria Boys High after being spotted at the national U13 Week; although the cricket did not work out as hoped, he is now studying his honours in actuarial science.

The Jacques Kallis Foundation is now being amalgamated with the Momentum 2 Excellence Bursary Programme, meaning 26 learners will now have their school fees paid for, securing quality education and a bright future for even more deserving youngsters.

The announcement of the merger was made at the confirmation of something that is the best news for South African cricket in a long time: that Momentum have extended their sponsorship deal with Cricket South Africa for another five years.

The wonderful thing about Momentum’s involvement in cricket is not just what thoroughly decent people they are or what wonderful functions they host, it is that they have invested as much in the grassroots of cricket as in their high-profile title sponsorship of all one-day cricket in South Africa and their groundbreaking support of the rapidly rising national women’s team.

Momentum also sponsor the Friendship Games in which top schools play, home and away, against a combined team of underprivileged schools in their area; all CSA’s junior weeks and development projects focused around the eKasi Challenge.

While some local stakeholders are warning that the massive investment in South African cricket that will come from the T20 Global League might not have an entirely positive effect, nobody will quibble that Momentum’s continued involvement in cricket is a tremendous coup and a feather in CSA’s cap.

As CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: “We know what Momentum have done through the years with their huge commitment, from the junior ranks right through to international level. They have been fabulous sponsors.”

The only sadness at the announcement was the news that Danie van den Bergh, the passionate, much-loved head of marketing at Momentum, has a well-earned promotion and will be shifting his focus away from day-to-day involvement with cricket.

He will still, of course, pop into games as and when he can and, considering the size of his personality and the excellence of the staff that remain, I’m sure the cricket family will remain oblivious to much changing at all.

Van den Bergh pointed to a return of more than a billion rand on their investment when he said “cricket has done wonders for us”; it’s only fair to say, Danie, you and Momentum have done wonders for the game.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170916/282527248605439

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.

The John McFarland Column – Not enough emphasis on defence 0

Posted on May 09, 2017 by Ken

 

To see so many tries scored against the South African teams in SuperRugby last weekend – 26 in all – was disappointing and it’s not great when your top franchises are conceding so many tries in particular, but the problem is that there has just not been enough emphasis on defence.

Look at the value SA Rugby put on defence after Jacques Nienaber left halfway through 2016: they appointed Chean Roux in his position and he will freely admit that he was an absolute rookie defence coach at that stage. What does that say about how they rate defence and defence coaches?

We’ve now had the national indaba and the Springboks are on to their fourth defence coach under Allister Coetzee, but I’m sure Brendan Venter will do a really good job because he has the experience and the skills, and was the architect of the Saracens defensive system that has taken them to the European Champions Cup final.

But there was no national defence coach when the indaba was convened, so I wonder if there was input on defence at that gathering? After conceding a record score against New Zealand, defence was an obvious area that needed fixing.

It’s not Allister’s fault of course because he was handed his staff; now he has been given the staff he wants and I expect to see a massive improvement in the Springboks this year.

There are problems, but the people who coach defence in the franchises will, of course, care deeply about the defensive performances. In 2013, I remember when the Springboks conceded five tries against the All Blacks at Ellis Park, but we needed the bonus point to win the Rugby Championship and we played a high-tempo game, which a lot of people said was one of the best Test matches ever played. But I stewed over those five tries for a month; but then at least we only conceded one try, to France, on the whole European tour thereafter.

So our defence in general is not in a great situation at present and whether it is due to conditioning problems or the speed of the modern game is open to debate. But you can never win a rugby match if you are conceding that many tries.

There’s obviously currently an emphasis on attacking skills but I’m certain the defence coaches are still being given sufficient time with their teams, and they would have done a lot of work on certain aspects of how the opposition attack. Like the Australian middle ruck attack, for instance, where the flyhalf goes hard for the line with a wing or centre like Israel Folau hard on their shoulder.

It’s no surprise when the New Zealand teams employ the kick-pass, especially the Hurricanes.

They employ the rush defence, therefore their wings have to be high and so there is always space behind them. Beauden Barrett would have had a lot of practice doing the kick-pass in training because he would see and have a high understanding of that space all the time.

The Stormers left too much of the field free, nearly 20 metres of space, and with players set in the wide channels, that’s not the smartest move.

In order to make sure you cover the width of the field, you need your tight five to work really hard close to the ruck, to set the breakdown correctly with good placing between the three pillars, and then the outside backs go wider.

The Bulls obviously had problems with their defence and if you said it started with their conditioning then you would not be far off. They also have folding problems, they’re just not setting the breakdown around the corner and so they end up with insufficient numbers.

They were also caught out by grubbers and so one has to ask questions about the back three’s positional play. They need to co-ordinate better to cover those and they need a much higher work-rate.

The Southern Kings have also had defensive problems and so it is only really the Lions and Sharks, who are defending in the same fashion as always, who can be satisfied with their defence.

The Lions have shown a great defensive improvement and one must credit JP Ferreira for improving their consistency in this regard.

The Lions are rolling through nicely and it will be a phenomenal tour if they can beat the Brumbies, which will make it probably the first unbeaten tour by a South African team – a tremendous achievement, and they’ve been winning with bonus points!

We know Australian rugby is at an all-time low and they have even more defensive problems, but their forwards are really their soft underbelly and the Lions have exposed that to great effect.

And the quality of finishing this weekend by Courtnall Skosan and Sylvian Mahuza was top-class. As we get closer to the Springbok selection, it’s a good time for players to remind the national coach that they are out there by scoring skilful tries like that.

In South Africa, skills development seems to be more coach-driven, but in New Zealand, the players take personal responsibility for it. An example at the Kubota Spears is Patrick Osborne, who has played at the top level as a wing, but he works hard on his kicking. He’s playing as a right-footer on the left wing, so he’s constantly working on his left-footed grubbers and other kicks, he does that consistently.

To see a top New Zealand SuperRugby player take individual responsibility like that was quite an eye-opener.

 

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.



↑ Top