for quality writing

Ken Borland



Ackers deserves enormous credit & support 0

Posted on May 01, 2017 by Ken

 

Johan Ackermann deserves enormous credit for the way he has transformed the Lions team over the last five years but he also deserves the public’s support for the tough decision he has made to further his career overseas with Gloucester.

Coaches always have a shelf-life with a team and guys like Alex Ferguson or Ian McIntosh staying for many years at one club are the exception rather than the rule. Ackermann has been the provider of so much to the Lions – rebuilding their culture after their morale was shattered during the John Mitchell years; up-skilling them such that they now lead the way in South Africa when it comes to the most progressive brand of rugby; helping to build Springboks who will surely do the country proud if trusted by Allister Coetzee in future; and giving them steel, not only up front amongst their highly impressive pack but also in the way they are now able to win the tight games, as they did against the Sharks last weekend.

So who can begrudge Ackers the chance to advance his own career a bit?

There is no doubt the 46-year-old would never be wrenching himself away from his Lions family and the Ellis Park supporters – the way he broke down while making the announcement of his departure makes this clear – unless he believed a move was essential to further his own highly-promising coaching career.

Ackermann has rightly been spoken of as a future Springbok coach, but there is no top-level international coach at the moment who has been employed in just one country. Steve Hansen coached Wales before joining the All Blacks staff; Eddie Jones was involved with the Australian, Japanese and South African sides before rejuvenating England; Michael Cheika coached Leinster and Stade Francais before getting the Wallabies job; Joe Schmidt is a Kiwi who coached in France before taking over Ireland, and Scotland coach Vern Cotter has the same story.

As brilliant as Ackermann has been, he has no real experience outside of coaching the Lions to a Super Rugby final and one Currie Cup crown. It can only be good for South African rugby that one of its most promising coaches spreads his wings and enjoys new horizons.

There also should be no panic at Ellis Park with the departure of their much-loved coach. As far as a replacement goes – the successor will take charge for the Currie Cup later this year – there is no need for the Lions to look further than what they already have.

The fact that the Lions have someone like the highly-rated Swys de Bruin – who has done well as a head coach before with Griquas and will undoubtedly build on the legacy of the last five years, providing great continuity – means president Kevin de Klerk and CEO Rudolf Straeuli, who have both also played key roles in the Lions’ resurgence, can kip easy when it comes to Ackermann’s successor.

Their structures are clearly in good nick – part of the wonderful legacy Ackermann has left – with both their U19 and U21 teams winning their respective provincial championships last year, so if someone has to move up from that level it should not be so high an elevation as to cause a ricked neck.

In fact, Straeuli used the terms “continuity” and “stability” several times while responding to questions about the road forward for the Lions, so it is not unreasonable to expect De Bruin, JP Ferreira (defence) and Ivan van Rooyen (conditioning) will continue in their roles and have more responsibility.

For those who believe Ackermann has turned his back on the Springbok coaching job, it seems clear that both Allister Coetzee and Rassie Erasmus are in his way for the foreseeable future.

The SA A job is an indication that he is somewhere on Saru’s radar, and he is still willing to coach the second-stringers when SuperRugby breaks for the mid-year internationals, but new challenges and experiences await overseas and it is exciting to think just how good a coach Ackermann will be when he returns to these shores.

http://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170408/282621737571662

Hockey’s junior stars are talented & transformed 0

Posted on May 03, 2016 by Ken

 

The South African men’s U21 team played in the final of the Greenfields Senior Interprovincial Nationals in Randburg on Saturday, showing that there is plenty of young talent coming through the ranks. But they are also thoroughly transformed with eight players of colour in the squad, including six Black Africans, showing that hockey is heading away from the representivity frustrations that have dogged them in the past.

And while “quotas” is a word bandied about by the older generation, it is not a hip word when it comes to hockey’s rising young talent.

“It hasn’t been difficult at all to find players of colour for the team because these guys have come through the age-groups, they’ve played together in the U16s and U18s, where there is a heck of a lot of good quality. The core of this side have played Tests together for the SA U18s and made the Junior Olympics semi-finals with the SA U17s, both under Neville Rothman, my assistant coach.

“So there are no quota – I hate that word – players in the team. They were all born after 1995 and have played in every national team together, so there is no baggage. They say it themselves in team meetings that the colour of your skin makes no difference. There’s a very positive feeling in this squad, there’s such a positive culture,” SA U21 coach Garreth Ewing said.

The players of colour in the current squad that is beating seasoned professionals at the senior IPT are composed midfielder Tyson Dlungwana, defender Nduduza Lembethe, Ryan Julius, an elusive runner with the ball, forward Khumo Mokale, the skilful Nqobile Ntuli, pacy Tevin Kok, solid Amkelwa Letuka and goalkeeper Siyavuya Nolutshungu, and they would comfortably be playing in this IPT for their provincial sides were they not on national duty.

“Obviously we do pay close attention to the players of colour, but a lot of them are our best players. Some of them are going to be superstars. They have a long way to go, but their ability and decision-making under pressure is already so good. I can’t wait to see where they all go, six of them already have full national caps,” Ewing said.

Ewing, who has considerable experience coaching both locally and internationally, clearly likes the emphasis on bringing through players of colour that has to be there if South African hockey are to get back to where they want to be – in the upper echelons of the world game.

“What is coming through underneath shows that there is so much potential. We’re not afraid of targets, we embrace them. Things don’t happen overnight, but we’re getting there. The guys play with such joy and style, their hockey is so attractive,” Ewing said.

Most encouragingly, Black coaches are also starting to come through. The losing semi-finalists, KZN Raiders and the Northerns Blues, are coached by Sihle Ntuli and Krinesan Moodley respectively. WP Peninsula are coached by Denzil Dolley and the team they played in the B Section final, KZN Mynahs, are mentored by Sharmin Naidoo

Patrick Tshutshani is Ewing’s counterpart with the junior women, Ryan Pillay coached the Western Province women’s team and even the Mpumalanga women’s team have a Black African coach in Brighty Mshaba.

Numerous other players of colour have shone with Jermaine Johnson and Julian Hykes both playing key roles in getting Southern Gauteng into the men’s final, while Pierre de Voux of Western Province and KZN’s Mohamed Mea are two newer players that are going to have the national selectors’ eyes on them.

The story is the same in the women’s section: Southern Gauteng are going to take on Northerns Blues in the final with Sanani Mangisa their stalwart in goal and Toni Marks and Lisa Hawker two of their man threats up front.

Northerns have Mmatshepo Modipane in goal.

But there is a challenge that SA Hockey will need outside help to overcome and, as ever, it is a financial one.

“The financial challenges for the previously disadvantaged players is huge. Consider the cost of going to our world cup – and the players have to pay! My biggest fear is having to leave someone behind because they can’t afford it,” Ewing says sombrely.

Springboks transformed into supermodels … but for how long? 0

Posted on October 16, 2012 by Ken

The Springboks were transformed at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, playing rugby of supermodel-level beauty as they overwhelmed Australia 31-8 to claim the first try-scoring bonus point in the Rugby Championship.

Of course, as is always the case with admiring supermodels on a Saturday night, there is a chance that beer goggles were involved in the form of a weak Australian team, further ravaged by injuries on the night, and we should all just calm down a bit and not start trumpeting the Springboks as the finished article just yet.

What is undeniable, however, is that they squeezed the Wallabies for 80 minutes with great success, winning over a Loftus Versfeld crowd of 44,463 fans that were strangely subdued and not their usual passionate, fiery selves at the start.

Perhaps the previous disappointments had made them wary and that seemed justified as Johan Goosen, the 20-year-old who was meant to be the Springboks’ saviour replacing Morne Steyn at flyhalf, missed two early penalties.

As coach Heyneke Meyer explained afterwards, Goosen had been dogged by a heel injury all week, “was not at 100% in the warm-up”, and then reported he was in pain again after 10 minutes. He felt he could soldier on, but would not be able to kick, so scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar took over the duties.

Pienaar also struggled though, missing four of his seven kicks at goal, so South Africa left another 16 points on the table – which could have made it a serious hiding for the Wallabies.

Goosen’s influence went way beyond mere goal-kicking, though. With the Free Stater standing flat and eager to engage the defences with ball in hand, the Springboks were now able to convert the pressure they created (through a pack that becomes more and more impressive with every outing) into space and try-scoring opportunities.

Meyer and captain Jean de Villiers were obviously delighted to score five tries, but were frustrated by suggestions from some media that the change of fortune had been due to a change in game plan.

“We haven’t changed one thing, that’s what people don’t understand. We’ve created those opportunities in previous weeks, but when we can execute and finish off those opportunities then it’s fantastic.

“We always say there’s space somewhere because, from a defensive point of view, you can’t cover everywhere. You need the ability to play into that space, if the space is at the back then you have to kick it there and contest to get it back. If they have guys back, then there’s the opportunity to run.

“We were really good at the breakdown. We put pressure on them there and territorially we were fantastic; we spent most of the time in their half. When that happens, then you can run the ball more. It all worked nicely for us today,” De Villiers exclaimed.

The predatory Bryan Habana was the chief beneficiary of all that space the Springboks found, scoring the second hat-trick of his 82-Test career and surpassing his former fellow wing, Breyton Paulse, as the leading try-scorer for South Africa against Australia with eight in 16 Tests.

Zane Kirchner also attacked well from fullback, scoring one try and being denied another by a mere centimetre as Adam Ashley-Cooper knocked himself out cold tackling him into touch. The rolling maul was used to good effect, too, with flank Francois Louw scoring from one in the second half. Taking that into account, this time South Africa’s kicking yips did not matter.

The Springboks certainly didn’t set out to be more flashy – that was just the by-product allowed by the hard grind of the men up front.

Thanks to a tremendous effort from the tight five, and an outstanding display from the loose trio of Duane Vermeulen, Louw and Willem Alberts, the Wallabies were knocked back on the gain line, putting the Springboks on the front foot and allowing them to impose their game plan on the visitors.

“South Africa played well tonight; they should be given credit. They were very good around the collisions and didn’t allow us much front-foot ball. Their defence was very effective and we used up players trying to run at them or to stop their ball-carriers,” Australia coach Robbie Deans admitted afterwards.

At almost every ruck, Vermuelen or Louw had their hands on the ball and the Springboks dominated the breakdown to an extent they have rarely enjoyed against the Wallabies.

Pienaar also enjoyed his best game of the year. Aware of the pressure on young Goosen, he took on most of the field-kicking duties and kept the Aussies back-pedalling and chasing the ball very well. His service was also slick and his decision-making good as he looked every part the general on the field.

Goosen was left to express himself with ball in hand and he showed his tremendous vision and deceptive pace on a number of occasions.

After the porous midfield defending in the second half of the Perth defeat, it was encouraging to see Jaco Taute make a fine debut at outside centre, tackling strongly and following the lead of skipper De Villiers inside him.

“You’re only as good as your defence. That’s how you put pressure on and then you score from turnovers. Our defence was awesome tonight. Australia wants a high-tempo game, but these players always put their bodies on the line,” Meyer said.

But, ever the perfectionist, he added: “I’m very proud of this young team tonight, but three tries were just a centimetre away and you have to convert those. So I’m not happy with that: if you create those opportunities, you must put them away.”

http://dailymaverick.co.za/article/2012-09-30-rugby-meyers-major-metamorphosis

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Thought of the Day

    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



↑ Top