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Ken Borland



A passionate, top-class SA coach without a job 0

Posted on May 24, 2017 by Ken

 

Despite a poor final year in charge of the Springboks, there is little doubt Heyneke Meyer remains a top-class coach and it is a symptom of a sick South African rugby system that the 49-year-old is without a full-time coaching job despite making it clear that he still wants to make a difference to the game in this country.

Meyer was back at Loftus Versfeld a couple of days ago to launch the Beachcomber World Club 10s, a unique tournament for professional teams in a social environment, that will be held in Mauritius next month, but there is no doubt he still harbours a burning desire to be involved in the cauldron of top quality rugby again judging by the passion with which he answered a range of questions on South African rugby.

Although a great admirer of New Zealand rugby and a personal friend of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, Meyer makes a good point when he says a drive to play like the Kiwis do is a case of chasing the wind for South African rugby.

He reckons it will take us 10 years to catch up to their style of play, by which time their game will have evolved and they will still be 10 years ahead of South Africa. It is perhaps a symptom of our insecurity as a nation that we are always trying to copy other teams – in the early 2000s it was Australian rugby that was the flavour of the month.

Meyer, who has been working with plenty of New Zealanders and Fijians in his part-time role as coach of the Asia Pacific Dragons team, points to a higher innate skills level as one of the main reasons South Africans will find it very difficult to emulate the free-flowing, expansive style of the Kiwis.

“South Africans don’t have the same natural understanding of space that they do, but I truly believe any of our teams can still beat a New Zealand team, especially at home. But if we try and follow them then we’ll never be the best in the world. We have to rediscover what we stand for and play South African rugby – brilliant set-pieces, driving, strong defence. We must do what we’re good at and kick intelligently, not just kick the ball away,” Meyer said.

The national coach from 2012 to 2015 made the point that ex-Springbok coaches are practically driven out of the country and pointed to Eddie Jones travelling from Australia to South Africa and now to England as an example of the value of experience, even if it comes from losing a few games.

“Eddie lost eight games in a row with Australia and was fired, he then helped the Springboks and learnt a lot there. In fact England are now playing like the Boks used to – they have great set-pieces, a great defence and kicking game, they still score tries and they’re on a winning run. It would be 50/50 right now between them and the All Blacks.”

Many observers have pointed to the speed at which New Zealand teams play the game and Meyer said this difference was most marked towards the end of matches, due to the superior fitness of the Kiwis.

“The All Blacks have always been superior in terms of fitness. We have big, strong guys, but it’s harder to get them fit. New Zealand have smaller but more mobile players and they run you ragged in the last 10-15 minutes. Central contracting means Steve Hansen knows the fitness of all his players and whether they need to rest or work harder.

“But you can’t do major fitness work if your players are tired or injured and our guys going overseas makes it very difficult, I’m very concerned about all the guys in Japan because you can’t play for 12 months. Before the last World Cup, I did not see the players for eight months so I asked for fitness reports from the franchises and nobody sent them in.

“So when I got the players I knew we were in trouble and the guys were not fit for the first game against Japan. But the All Blacks get to rest for three months after SuperRugby, so they’re super-fit for the next year, but we’re playing Currie Cup or in Japan. It’s very difficult for the South African coaches,” Meyer said.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170513/282578787965088

SA hockey heads into 2017 without stalwart Mangisa 0

Posted on January 31, 2017 by Ken

 

The South African women’s team will head into the rest of 2017 without the calming, stabilising presence of one of their greatest goalkeepers, as Sanani Mangisa announced her retirement from international hockey on Tuesday, 24th January 2017.

The 29-year-old Mangisa is into her 10th year of representing South Africa and has decided the time is right for her to concentrate on her career in the sports industry and helping to create opportunities, similar to the ones she enjoyed, for the next generation.

“I always love the freshness and optimism that comes with a new year and it is with that same freshness and optimism that I have decided to retire from international hockey. On 30th December 2006, I made my debut in Stellenbosch as a young 19-year-old and 10 years on it has been an immense honour to represent South Africa at the highest level.

“However, it’s time for me to focus on some passion projects, making sure other young players have the same opportunities I did and a job that I am enjoying. Hockey chose me and I will forever be grateful,” Mangisa said.

The South African women’s team will head into the rest of 2017 without the calming, stabilising presence of one of their greatest goalkeepers as Sanani Mangisa announced her retirement from international hockey on Tuesday.

The 29-year-old Mangisa is into her 10th year of representing South Africa and has decided the time is right for her to concentrate on her career in the sports industry and helping to create opportunities, similar to the ones she enjoyed, for the next generation.

“I always love the freshness and optimism that comes with a new year and it is with that same freshness and optimism that I have decided to retire from international hockey. On December 30, 2006, I made my debut in Stellenbosch as a young 19-year-old and 10 years on it has been an immense honour to represent South Africa at the highest level.

“But it’s time for me to focus on some passion projects, making sure other kids have the same opportunities I did, and a job that I am enjoying. Hockey chose me and I will forever be grateful,” Mangisa said.

Mangisa thanked the South African Hockey Association and all other stakeholders in the game who have supported her in the last decade.

“Thank you to SA hockey for all the opportunities they allowed me to represent my country and wear the Green and Gold. Thank you to the different team-mates I have played with over the years – we shared a common goal and always worked hard towards achieving it. Thank you also to the coaches and trainers who always challenged me to be better.

“Thanks too to all the different sponsors, you believed in a kid, long before I believed in myself, and to the media – journalists and broadcasters – that feature hockey, I have to thank you specifically for working endlessly to highlight our sport. I hope everyone keeps supporting women’s sport not just because it’s women’s sport, but because we are breaking moulds and doing some cool stuff.

“And to my family, you have always been the grounding factor. Your support has been immense. Enkosi,” Mangisa said.

The Umtata-born Mangisa leaves the game with rich memories as one of South Africa’s most decorated players, having earned 112 international caps and appearing in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, as well as the 2014 World Cup and the 2010 Commonwealth Games. She also represented South Africa at the 2007 Indoor World Cup and played locally for the University of Pretoria and Northerns, before moving to Southern Gauteng.

Marissa Langeni, the CEO of the South African Hockey Association, paid tribute to Mangisa.

“We have followed Sanani’s progress over the years and she has truly been a remarkable player, doing an amazing job in goal for South Africa. She enjoyed so many highlights on the field, but she was also a great ambassador for South African hockey. We wish her all the best,” Langeni said.

http://www.sahockey.co.za/tournaments/ipt-women/276-sanani-mangisa-announces-her-retirement-from-international-hockey

Lions show they can win well without the ball 0

Posted on July 23, 2016 by Ken

 

The Lions had to show they are able to win without the ball and they did that to impressive effect at Ellis Park on Saturday night as they beat the Crusaders 42-25 in their SuperRugby quarterfinal.

The Lions probably only enjoyed about 40% of possession and territory, but their defence was superb and they showed a ruthless streak when they did have the ball, clinical finishing giving them five tries.

It was one-way traffic in the first 10 minutes though as the Lions scored two tries to settle their nerves and give them a 12-0 lead which the Crusaders chipped away at, but could never entirely eliminate.

After flank Warwick Tecklenburg had barged over the advantage line, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk made a good decision to go left and wing Courtnall Skosan showed lovely footwork to step past a couple of defenders and then race away from the halfway line for a superb second-minute try.

De Klerk was once again prominent in the Lions’ second try five minutes later as he intercepted a pass and led a breakaway from their own territory, Skosan loomed up in support and was stopped just short of the tryline, illegally, leading to a penalty.

Sensing blood, the Lions kicked to touch and got the rolling maul going and this time there was no avoiding a yellow card for the Crusaders when they sacked it illegally, lock Luke Romano being sent off the field by referee Craig Joubert.

That penalty was also kicked to touch and, a couple of phases after the lineout, bulldozer centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg went over for the try.

Elton Jantjies converted and seven minutes later he added a penalty after De Klerk had linked well with his forwards and backs and decoy runners had caused some confusion in the Crusaders defence.

The Lions were 15-0 up but they spent most of the second quarter pinned in their own territory and having to defend courageously, making tackle-after-tackle, to keep the Crusaders out.

While the visitors showed excellent ball-retention, most of the Lions’ problems were related to their poor tactical kicking and not getting enough distance on their clearing kicks.

Flyhalf Richie Mo’unga kicked a 19th-minute penalty and the Crusaders eventually made their territorial dominance count in terms of tries when another telling dart by wing Johnny McNicholl, who had been a handful on attack, led to outside centre Ryan Crotty dotting the ball down on the side of the post.

Mo’unga’s conversion closed the gap to 15-10 and the momentum was certainly with the Crusaders.

But the Lions brushed aside the difficulties of the last half-hour, a power scrum winning a penalty, which was again used to set the rolling maul, from which hooker Malcolm Marx scored.

Jantjies converted and the Lions were far more comfortable on the scoreboard – 22-10 up – than they were in reality at halftime.

But the Crusaders are a skilful side good at building pressure and they kept the ball through multiple phases at the start of the second half, trapping the Lions offsides and earning Mo’unga another penalty (13-22).

The Lions are perhaps too reliant on De Klerk using clearing kicks from the base, which are inevitably going to be more like an up-and-under than a long, raking touchfinder, but when Jantjies did manage to kick long and force the Crusaders back for a 22 drop out, it led to a penalty advantage and the flyhalf slotted a neat drop goal for the Lions to rebuild their lead.

The Crusaders were disappointed with the penalty count against them and they gave Jantjies another shot at goal in the 61st minute, the Lions getting front-foot ball as Janse van Rensburg crashed through the advantage line yet again.

The kicking game of the Crusaders was much better than the Lions’ and it earned them their second try when fullback Israel Dagg put pressure on the home side trying to field an up-and-under, the ball went loose and was tidied up by Mo’unga. He made it inside the Lions’ 22 before feeding replacement scrumhalf Mitchell Drummond for an easy run-in.

Mo’unga’s conversion made it 20-28 and the result was obviously back in the balance with 17 minutes remaining.

But the surprise substitution of the outstanding Janse van Rensburg brought immediate rewards. His replacement Howard Mnisi put outside centre Lionel Mapoe away with a sublime first touch, the Springbok incumbent racing through and then showing good composure to wait for the arrival of wing Ruan Combrinck in support. The power finish of the new international completed probably the try of the match.

On a special evening for the Lions, it was fantastic that some of their unsung heroes like Mnisi, Skosan and Tecklenburg produced some of the biggest plays.

Mnisi was in the thick of things again just five minutes later as his big tackle on McNicholl led to a turnover, which was sent wide, Mapoe chipping infield and replacement scrumhalf Ross Cronje getting to the ball first and then fighting his way over the line.

Unfortunately, he injured himself in the process and his fitness is a concern for next weekend’s semi-final at Ellis Park.

With Jantjies’ conversion making it 42-20, the Lions no longer had to worry and an attempt to run the ball in their own 22 instead gave the Crusaders a consolation try through replacement flyhalf Ben Volavola.

But the Lions were convincing winners and by beating the seven-time champions and playoff experts, they have marked themselves as strong contenders for the title.

If they are as clinical on attack and as determined in defence as they were against the Crusaders, it would be silly to bet against them in their home semifinal next weekend.

 

 

Pass The Buck – A sporting area Mbalula excels in 0

Posted on April 30, 2016 by Ken

 

If there’s one area of sport that Fikile Mbalula, the Minister of Razzmatazz and Grand Gestures Without Any Substance, is probably an expert in it would be the art of passing, even if his distribution skills are rather one-dimensional.

Mbalula produced one of the most dramatic Passing The Buck moves ever seen in South African sport this week; sadly his distribution skills are strictly limited to dishing out blame rather than what he should be providing, which is governmental impetus to efforts to provide greater opportunities for the disadvantaged.

We must never forget that Mbalula is at heart a politician, not a sports lover, but even by those low standards his actions this week have been extremely cynical. If Richie McCaw had done something as cynical in the All Blacks’ 22, even a New Zealand referee would have yellow-carded him.

I want to make it clear that I fully support transformation and a sport like rugby clearly still has a long way to go if the Springboks are to field a team that is even close to being fully representative of the nation. Cricket have tried exceptionally hard in terms of transformation but have also made some blunders.

I also agree that just continually warning slow-moving sports administered by dinosaurs is not the way to go.

But the kind of mass social engineering that Mbalula is wanting – teams that are just 9% White – can only be achieved by government.

Last year, when the Springboks and Proteas were involved in world cups, Mbalula was right behind those teams, quite happy to gloss over their obvious failings when it came to transformation, even after their failed campaigns. Perhaps he didn’t want to appear rude for all the VIP treatment rugby and cricket have lavished upon the notorious party animal.

But now the ANC is set to lose many votes in the elections later this year so a grand gesture is needed, something to distract, something to shift the pressure elsewhere, and Mbalula is the master of that.

After Mbalula agreed to become the sports minister, allegedly at the behest of the Guptas, in 2010, he said all the right things about how he was going to make sure transformation was focused at grassroots level and how national teams were the wrong place to intervene.

I liked and supported Mbalula for the first couple of years, until I started wondering “When is he actually going to do any of this great stuff he’s promising?” however entertaining his often baffling press conferences were.

As some of my Black colleagues in the media have pointed out, Mbalula has failed to produce one meaningful transformation project in the six years he’s been in office. His tenure will be remembered for grandiose speeches, his fawning over Floyd Mayweather and Beyonce, and the millions he has spent on dismal awards banquets. By one calculation, he spent four times the Olympics budget for the South African team.

The current situation in which our predominantly White sports only choose their Black African players from a few select schools is not going to change unless government is willing to commit the millions of rands that sports bodies don’t have into building facilities in the townships, never mind rural areas.

If you are going to bring a sport to the masses, then the facilities have to be there to match the opportunity.

But that would involve actual work and, heaven forbid, Mbalula might have to skip the odd glitzy party with all its selfie opportunities.

Sure, many South African sports deserve censure for their maladministration and slowness to transform, but when is Mbalula going to take responsibility for his utter failure to produce anything worthwhile in his capacity as Minister of Sport?

 



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