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Ken Borland



The future is doubtful but the SA Rugby Annual has the past in glorious detail 0

Posted on May 05, 2017 by Ken

 

It’s been another troubling week in South African rugby with the news of more players going overseas and there have been the usual dire predictions of the game in this country having no future.

In situations like these, looking back into the past sometimes provides solace and the 2017 edition of the South African Rugby Annual, which is available now at all leading retailers nationwide and on certain online platforms, is as comprehensive a collection of all the past glories and sorrows of the game in this country as you could hope to find.

It is a statistical and trivia treasure trove. Did you know for instance that Bulls and Springbok centre Jan Serfontein (2011) and his father, Jan ‘Boelie’ Serfontein (1976-78), the former Eastern Province eighthman, were the first father and son combination to play for the SA Schools team?

Serfontein junior is of course the player who dropped the bombshell this week that he is leaving South African rugby, thus joining the four pages of South Africans playing abroad compiled by Stuart Farmer, a section of the Annual that is growing at a daunting pace.

The Annual obviously provides a comprehensive wrap of the Springboks in 2016, including a report on their draw against the Barbarians at Wembley last November, when Francois Venter first played for the national side. The Cheetahs centre will perhaps gain the most from Serfontein’s exit and many would say ‘what’s all the fuss about’ given how good a player Venter is.

Why I believe there should be a fuss made about Serfontein’s move is because his agent belongs to the same Essentially sports management company behind the controversial departures of South African cricketers Rilee Rossouw and Kyle Abbott as well as numerous other rugby players now playing abroad.

I have it on good authority that Essentially only earn commission when they land their players an overseas deal, so it is obvious they have a massive vested interest in pushing players to go the foreign route. What they have been doing to South African sport recently amounts to strip-mining its assets.

It is difficult to know where SA Rugby can go to stop the plunder – Serfontein was offered what he himself described as a “generous” national contract – but perhaps it’s time they became strict on players not being allowed to negotiate with other clubs while still under contract.

It was reported in France as far back as January that Serfontein had signed a three-year deal with Montpellier, so his subsequent ‘negotiations’ with SA Rugby and the Bulls were undoubtedly in bad faith, much like the poor form Rossouw showed in his dealings with Cricket South Africa.

There was, of course, no guarantee that Serfontein would have been in the Springbok midfield when they line up against France next month – the Annual will tell you that South Africa’s last Test against Les Bleus was, astonishingly, the 19-10 win in Paris back in November 2013 – and, to be fair, the 25-year-old has not always done full justice to his talents when he has pulled on the Green and Gold.

It’s all part of the change though that is inevitable in rugby, like the rise of Argentina – in the Springbok section of the Annual you can find the results of the eight Tests they played against the whole South American continent (and latterly ‘boosted’ by Spain) between 1980 and 1984 and now we struggle to beat just the one country!

Anyway, for those of you who want to blame the Bulls for letting Serfontein go, you can find the franchise’s phone number and address, and those of all the SuperRugby teams, inside the Annual to make your protest action easier.

The Annual also provides full SuperRugby coverage, including that the Lions used 44 players in the competition, while the Currie Cup section will show you that Border used 40. If you are interested in Valke players, there is a complete list of them too, as well as all of their 2016 results. The Varsity Cup is also covered.

If global rugby is your thing, you can find out the score when Rwanda played Burundi in Kigali last May or who the leading try-scorers in world rugby are.

Other intriguing lists provided by editors Duane Heath and Eddie Grieb are of all the top schoolboy players and their schools, all SA Schools caps since 1974 and all players who have appeared in Currie Cup finals. And there are photographs too – including a classic of gigantic Waratahs lock Will Skelton engulfing some unfortunate opponent much like the euro/pound/yen are overwhelming the rand.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170422/282462823807677

I know a week is a long time in sport, but … 0

Posted on March 20, 2017 by Ken

 

I’ve always known that a week can be a long time in the world of sport, but I go away for eight nights to the bush of northern Limpopo and return to find rugby’s entire landscape changing with indecent haste compared to the months of feet-dragging that often characterise a game that has been presided over at some stages by dinosaurs or the old farts of the straw-chair brigade.

One of the changes I saw coming before my departure. I always love unintended consequences and it was former Springboks and Bulls defence coach John McFarland who pointed out to me that the rulemakers’ new emphasis on keeping tackles lower, away from the head and shoulders, was at least partly responsible for the sudden rash of offloads we have seen from the South African teams, who have traditionally preferred taking contact and winning some hard-earned, psychologically-meaningful centimetres.

So it’s not just a mindset change amongst our franchise coaches and players, but also that tacklers are now being forced down below the arms, allowing the hands to be free to keep the ball alive.

Time will tell whether that more skilful approach is carried through to the Springboks, but the national team has already had better preparation than last year with a camp and they look better resourced too in terms of coaching staff.

One of those additional resources is Cheetahs coach Franco Smith and it may be just as well that he has earned a promotion because he might be out of a decent Super Rugby job next year. If we believe what the New Zealand media tell us, then the Cheetahs as well as the Southern Kings will be axed from Super Rugby under the new, hopefully improved format for 2018 that is yet to be unveiled.

Harold Verster, the CEO of the Cheetahs, cheerfully told the world though that he keeps his “ear to the ground” and that the rumbling noise he hears is not a rampaging stampede of buffalo at all, but the sound of the Grey College-Free State-somewhere else in the country pipeline running smoothly. He says the Cheetahs are safe.

You cannot be nearly as optimistic about the Kings, however. They would seem to be sitting ducks as not only are they struggling on the field but they are a financial drain on the South African Rugby Union and money always shouts loudest when it comes to administrators, like politicians.

Speaking of politicians, you cannot escape the irony that Cheeky Watson, the self-proclaimed messiah of transformation, has now left Eastern Cape rugby and has done more damage to the nursery of Black rugby in our country than anything since a Nationalist government functionary.

If you called him a blood-sucking tick you would probably be understating his effect. The man has been a full-blown parasite on the game in that vulnerable region, more like the deadly malaria protozoans that kill half-a-million people a year in sub-Saharan Africa.

Later this year, the British and Irish Lions tour New Zealand in what should be the rugby highlight of 2017, but this type of proper tour probably won’t become more common given the news this week that a new global rugby calendar is being introduced. Coming into effect in 2020, it has reducing player workload as one of its main tenets.

Tours by northern hemisphere teams to the southern hemisphere will be pushed back to July, but this will allow Super Rugby to be completed in one fell swoop from February to June. This is a good thing and will come into effect in 2019, because that is a World Cup year.

The 2023 World Cup is another story of course, with South Africa seemingly ranged against France and Ireland for the right to host the tournament. If you can believe what came out of sports minister Fikile Mbalula’s mouth this week, then government is now backing the bid.

Then again, Mbalula might just have been trying to distract from the fiasco that was Durban’s Commonwealth Games bid. The chairman of that bid was Mark Alexander, the president of the South African Rugby Union, but that’s a story for another day.

CSA ashamed of their transformation model & rightly so! 0

Posted on June 09, 2016 by Ken

 

It’s not exactly been a glorious week to be South African with disgraceful xenophobic attacks adding to the regular shame brought on the nation by corrupt leaders and authorities, and Eskom. But on the sporting front, Cricket South Africa (CSA) are facing humiliation as the threads start to come apart about what really happened in yet another World Cup disaster.

Mike Horn, the world-renowned adventurer, who became the first person to circumnavigate the equator under his own steam in 2000, and motivational coach, has no reason to lie about what happened in the changeroom ahead of the semi-final against New Zealand and his allegations of interference in selection have merely confirmed what just about everyone believes happened.

Remember, not one of the players has stood up and supported the “official” version provided by CSA and their staff, and neither has the Players’ Association.

The only possible reason for CSA to lie so blatantly about interference in selection is that they are ashamed of their own transformation model, because all right-minded people surely support the broader objectives of the policy?

And CSA are right to feel ashamed because they have shown little desire for ensuring that the goals of transformation are met, rather than merely fulfilling a quota and jumping into action when some heat is applied to them by politicians wanting a quick-fix rather than actually making the effort required to change our society.

Their utter disregard for the spirit of transformation was shown by Aaron Phangiso not getting a single game at the World Cup, a damning indictment of how shallow the whole #ProteaFire campaign was. If South Africa really were strong contenders to win the tournament, as their leadership constantly assured everyone, then it had to be utter nonsense that playing Phangiso against Ireland and/or the UAE would jeopardise their log position.

Half of the games the Proteas played in the World Cup were with only three players of colour, so why, if three was fine for the quarterfinal against Sri Lanka and the matches against West Indies, Ireland and Pakistan, did there need to be an intervention on the eve of the semi-final? Why didn’t the same interferer intervene for Phangiso?

The CSA board have shown before that they are as self-serving as any odium of politicians and there are members of that untrustworthy body who have previously severely undermined the Proteas and the players with cheap points-scoring efforts designed to further their own ambitions rather than the good of South African cricket.

With Horn having pulled the first thread out, the truth will eventually come out and then instead of having #ProteaFire, CSA will have been exposed as just one big #ProteaLiar.

But the CSA board are ruthless bullies and whoever breaks ranks can expect their privileged position in South African cricket to come to a quick end. Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat is the man sitting with the most egg on his face at the moment, but as an employee of the board, he will certainly lose his job if he reveals the truth.

It’s little wonder then that someone like Fanie de Villiers, whose out-of-touch views of South African cricket have led to him being persona non grata with the team, is sadly able to entice one of our brightest talents, Hardus Viljoen, into emigrating to New Zealand.

The basic truth, as it always has been, is that until Cricket South Africa have a board whose priority is the good of the game in this country and not their own ambitions and fiefdoms, real transformation will not be achieved.

 

Mokuena part of a seismic week for Black African rugby 0

Posted on April 19, 2016 by Ken

 

The 15th week of 2016 could potentially be a seismic one in the history of Black African rugby in this country with Jonathan Mokuena leading Pukke to the Varsity Cup title and Mzwandile Stick being named a Springbok assistant coach.

While both former Springbok Sevens stars have quickly risen to coaching prominence, it is Mokuena who is perhaps accelerating even faster than former flyer Stick.

The 34-year-old Mokuena claimed the highly-competitive Varsity Cup title in his first year as a 15s coach and will now be guiding the Leopards in the Currie Cup as the doors slowly open for Black Africans at senior coaching level.

Speed and intensity will always be vital in rugby and, as a former Springbok Sevens captain, Mokuena’s coaching focuses on that.

“Coming from Sevens has been kind of an advantage because there’s a certain work ethic in Sevens. Coming to 15s, I try to train and operate at that same level, to introduce the same mental attitude. We train at a greater intensity and pace and under more pressure. In Sevens, because there are less guys on the field, one missed tackle can mean you lose the game,” Mokuena told The Saturday Citizen.

Mokuena was born in Cape Town in 1981 and received a bursary while at Prince George Primary to attend Voortrekker High School, an Afrikaans school.

“There was no soccer or volleyball, which I had been playing, at Voortrekker, I had to play cricket and rugby. It was just post-1994, so it was a bit uncomfortable, but I think having that challenge has allowed me to fit in well in small towns. I played my best rugby in Potchefstroom and Kimberley,” Mokuena said.

Having made his provincial debut for Western Province in 2002, Mokuena, a tough loose forward, relocated to Potchefstroom in 2004, playing 55 matches for the Leopards. From there he had stints with the Cheetahs and Griffons in the Free State, before joining Griquas, who he captained to the Vodacom Cup title in 2009, being named the player of the tournament.

He then joined the Lions, in the years before they were the slick, settled and reasonably happy outfit they are now.

“In my two years at the Lions, the coaching staff changed four times – from Jake White to Dick Muir to John Mitchell and then Johan Ackermann. So it was never consistent, which you need to fit in as a player. But I wanted to play SuperRugby. I wasn’t helped by a knee injury and then I missed a tour when my first child was born,” Mokuena recalls.

Before taking up coaching, Mokuena spent three years in the corporate world and, coupled with some bad experiences of how coaching should not be done at the Lions, it has helped shape his own coaching philosophy.

“You see what works in the corporate world and there are a lot of similarities with sport. You learn how to work better with people and how to manage people. Not everyone dances to the same music, you have got to discover what works in your set-up and figure out what sort of people your players are.

“A coach will impact more young people in a year than most people do in a lifetime, so it’s about those person-to-person relationships and creating an environment to grow people, a family environment,” Mokuena said.

The married father of three, who says his biggest playing highlight was winning the man of the match award for the Royal XV against the British and Irish Lions in 2009, says the future goal is the Springboks, but the now is his focus.

“The ultimate goal is to be Springbok coach, but at the moment I’m just focusing on getting the structures right for the Leopards, the Currie Cup is my immediate goal. The Varsity Cup has gone, we’ve ticked that box, and the Currie Cup is next, I want everyone to see we are going about things the right way here.

“The Black coaches have always been there, it’s just about opportunity. It’s slowly opening up but we don’t want to be appointed because of our colour,” Mokuena said.

The stately Varsity Cup trophy sitting in his office in Potchefstroom proves the waves Mokuena is making have nothing to do with window-dressing.

http://www.citizen.co.za/1077177/mokuena-making-waves/

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    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



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