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Ken Borland



Sheer delight for SA rugby 0

Posted on July 25, 2017 by Ken

 

Following the awful disappointments of 2016, what a sheer delight the last three weeks of Springbok rugby have been, culminating in the series whitewash over France in front of more than 55 000 people at Ellis Park, as well as a wonderful game the night before at Orlando Stadium between the SA A and French Barbarians sides.

Apart from the winning, up-tempo rugby played by both the Springboks and their second-stringers, the other similarity between the two teams is that both clearly enjoy a wonderful team culture.

It cannot be understated how important a role a good team environment will play in the success of a side and we saw last year how the Proteas cricket team drastically improved their results after a “culture camp”.

At the top level, teams are very similar in terms of physicality, conditioning and skill, so the crucial extra 1% that gives sides the edge is often found on the mental side of sport – happy players committed to a cause or a “brotherhood”, to use the in-vogue expression, will give more out on the field.

Sure, Brendan Venter and Franco Smith have come along and brought considerable technical expertise to the Springboks, but I have never, in 25 years of covering South African rugby, seen a squad speak more about just how happy they were to be together and how much they loved the environment than the current group under Allister Coetzee and his fellow coaches. The captaincy of Warren Whiteley must also be mentioned because there’s no doubt he has played a big role in the team culture as well.

It is a similar culture, borne from adversity, that is seen in Whiteley’s Lions team and it is also evident in the SA A side under Johan Ackermann. It was clearly displayed at the end of the game against the French Barbarians in Orlando when scrumhalf Jano Vermaak was spontaneously, just for the sheer joy of it, lifted on to the shoulders of his team-mates after kicking the last conversion, and when the whole squad sang stirring songs together, bobbing in a tight embrace, after the trophy presentation.

The fact that Ackermann has managed to create that culture in the SA A side in just a few weeks is testament to what a fine coach he is and hopefully he will be back in South Africa soon after increasing his experience and knowledge with Gloucester in the United Kingdom.

Ackermann, a former Springbok lock, first made his name as a coach through his technical and tactical acumen in the set-pieces, but he also has the ability to inspire a team, a crucial man-management skill in any coach.

Singing along with the SA A team were a bunch of supporters in the far grandstand and I believe playing top rugby in Soweto has a great future. The SA A game was played at 8pm on a Friday night the day before a Test at Ellis Park, so the crowd was always going to be small.

But I know it is in SA Rugby’s future plan to play more games in Soweto, and to stage them at 3pm in the afternoon and not during a Test week in the same city. There’s no doubt we will then see the crowds pouring in, because there is a great love for the game in Soweto, but access remains a problem.

Orlando Stadium is also a magnificent venue, modern, spacious and with one of the best views of the field, from any vantage point, you will see.  The fact that top rugby did not return earlier to Orlando after the memorable 2010 Super Rugby final that inspired such goodwill is a great pity.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-kzn/20170701/282321090023086

Stone displays top-class golf & temperament in big Leopard Creek win 0

Posted on December 09, 2016 by Ken

Brandon Stone produced a top-class display of golf and a wonderful temperament as he swept to a seven-stroke victory in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek on Sunday.

The 23-year-old enjoyed a three-stroke lead over a trio of golfers – including defending champion Charl Schwartzel, a four-time winner at Leopard Creek – and fired a brilliant five-under-par 67 on a sweltering day alongside the southern border of the Kruger National Park.

That left him on a magnificent 22-under-par for the tournament, a total bettered only once at Leopard Creek, by Schwartzel when he shot 24-under in 2013.

That Stone has a rare talent when it comes to golf was already clear, the SA Open champion showing that in his first three rounds of 67, 66 and 66, but it was his superb temperament that shone through on Sunday, as he absorbed an early charge by Schwartzel and then obliterated South Africa’s number two ranked golfer and the rest of the field.

Schwartzel started the final round with a pair of birdies and then when he birdied the par-four sixth hole, he had drawn level with Stone.

The Rustenburg-born golfer immediately birdied the sixth himself though, and added another birdie on the seventh.

Trying to keep a low ball-flight on the long par-four eighth, the second toughest hole on Sunday, Stone took a Driver off the deck, but put his ball in the rough, leading to a bogey.

“It’s my most fun shot, but I just hit it a bit heavy,” Stone explained afterwards.

So he went to the turn one-under-par and just one ahead of Schwartzel, but Stone produced a phenomenal change of gear on the back nine, rattling off pairs of birdies on 10 and 11 and 13 and 14. It was all part of the plan he said, showing his maturity.

“On the front nine I was tied for the lead at one stage and it was reminiscent of the SA Open. But I knew my game-plan was to be one or two under for the front nine and then try and score on the back nine, and I was able to get some momentum going,” Stone said.

By the time Stone bogeyed the par-four 17th, there was nobody anywhere near him.

There had been signs of fight from Schwartzel as he sank a 20-foot putt for birdie from the fringe on the par-four 11thhole, but there were inconsistencies in his game.

The rot began on the par-five 13th when, after a superb drive down the middle of the fairway, he put his approach shot into the greenside bunker.

He took two shots to get out of the sand, and another two putts to finish the hole, the bogey he made meaning he was five behind Stone when the youngster birdied the same hole a few minutes later.

There was no coming back for Schwartzel, in fact there was even more pain.

On the par-five 15th he twice hit into thick rough before finding the water, eventually signing for an eight, and then his tee-shot on the par-three 16th also went into the drink, leading to a double-bogey.

Even though Schwartzel birdied the last, he was left in a tie for fourth on 12-under-par with compatriot Thomas Aiken (69), Frenchman Benjamin Hebert (72), Scotland’s Scott Jamieson (69), Spaniard Carlos Pigem (69) and England’s Graeme Storm (68), after a 74.

It was not a good day either for the other two golfers who were tied for second overnight with Schwartzel.

South African Keith Horne was off to a terrible start with two bogeys and a double in his first four holes, and was left in a tie for 11th on 10-under-par after a 76, while Hanson was also blown off course early on with a seven on the par-five second hole, finishing with the same score as Horne.

Richard Sterne was the big beneficiary of all that carnage, shooting an impressive 67 to climb from seventh to second on 15-under-par overall.

Young Belgian Thomas Detry was also impressive in shooting a 68 that left him in third place on 13-under.

Although it seemed an almost effortless victory for Stone, he said he had to sweat both literally and figuratively in the 40 degree heat.

“It certainly wasn’t stress free and I was absolutely cooked at the end, I was the first guy into the shade whenever there was a break in play. But it’s probably the best I’ve played, my ball-striking was superb from the first hole to the last and there wasn’t a hole that I was really in trouble on all week. To shoot 22-under around here is not a simple task, it’s quite something,” an ecstatic Stone said.

It was an amazing display of golf and deserving of the cool R2.8 million winning cheque Stone received.

http://citizen.co.za/uncategorized/1365143/stone-displays-top-class-golf-in-big-leopard-creek-win/

Proteas in much better mental space – Boucher 0

Posted on November 10, 2016 by Ken

 

Former Proteas legend Mark Boucher believes it is the South African team which is in a vastly better mental space than the Australians following their wonderful victory in the first Test in Perth.

“It was sensational and it will have left Australia scratching their heads about which is their right side. I don’t think Mitchell Marsh is right at number six because he’s not the sort of guy to score you hundreds there, you compare him to someone like Mike Hussey and it’s chalk and cheese. So the Proteas are in a really good position if it’s the Australians asking questions after the first Test.

“The Proteas are in a much better space than Australia and their only real headache is selection for Hobart, which is a nice position to be in. Do they play Morne Morkel or Dwaine Pretorius, who has been in good form locally and can add extra with the bat.

“I believe we should be moving away from ‘horses for courses’ because we have guys who can perform in different conditions. I’m not too sure what Hobart will be like, they might give us a greentop and then maybe JP Duminy can do the spinner’s job.

“But thankfully we played the spinner in Perth, with the Fremantle Doctor that was a fantastic call, a spinner can bowl a lot of overs and Keshav Maharaj did a wonderful job. Australia don’t play spin too well, they don’t really rotate the strike, they just try to be aggressive. In the past, Paul Harris did a fabulous job for us when we won the series Down Under and they might decide to unleash Tabraiz Shamsi because they might feel the Australians don’t read him too well,” Boucher said.

The record-holder for most dismissals by a Test wicketkeeper paid special tribute to Kagiso Rabada, the 21-year-old fast bowler who had to shoulder so much responsibility after Dale Steyn broke down. Instead of buckling, Rabada flourished with five wickets in the final innings.

“We’ve seen in the past that KG really thrives on leading the bowling attack, when Dale and Vernon Philander were injured he really led from the front. When you put KG in that space, he seems to really enjoy the challenge, which is a big positive,” Boucher said.

 

 

Otaegui’s 62 sees the Spaniard into the lead in Tshwane Open 0

Posted on December 18, 2015 by Ken

 

A wonderful round of eight-under-par 62 by Spaniard Adrian Otaegui saw him claim a two-stroke lead after the second round of the co-sanctioned Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club on Friday.

Otaegui, who grew up in the same northern Spanish seaside resort town of Fuenterrabia as Jose-Maria Olazabal and is mentored by the former Ryder Cup captain, went out in the first three-ball of the day and conquered the parklands course with five successive birdies from the eighth hole.

“We were first to tee off this morning and the conditions were perfect. I like playing that early and I did really well, made a lot of birdies and I’m happy with my round. It was a good round from the beginning, the greens were perfect because we opened the course. They were good yesterday, but when you play first the course is in very good condition and you can take advantage.

“I like these type of courses that are old-style and have trees, so that you have to place the ball. You don’t need to hit it far, but rather put in a place where you can attack the pins. Even if I missed a few tee shots today, I hit some good irons and gave myself birdie chances,” Otaegui said after his best round on the European Tour.

Pretoria Country Club was a tougher prospect on the second day, with a gentle but capricious breeze, and first-round leaders Morten Orum Madsen and David Horsey both slipped down the leaderboard.

Englishman Horsey managed to limit the damage with a one-under-par 69 that leaves him on eight-under, three behind Otaegui and one behind second-placed South African Merrick Bremner, who produced a four-under-par 66 to go to nine-under.

Madsen, from Denmark, knew he was in for a tough day as he double-bogeyed the first and fourth holes. He dropped further shots on the ninth and 10th, before cruising to three successive birdies, picking up another shot on 17, but then stalling with a bogey on the last to finish with a two-over 72, six shots off the pace.

Bremner motored to the end of his round, which started on the 10th, with four birdies in his last six holes to reach the halfway stage of the tournament alone in second place, to show that big drivers of the ball can still succeed on the tight course, providing they are accurate.

The best of the afternoon rounds would come from Trevor Fisher Junior, fresh off a breakthrough win in last weekend’s Africa Open. The South African had four successive birdies from the sixth hole to set up a 66 that lifted him to eight-under for the tournament, in a tie for third with Horsey, Keith Horne and Edoardo Molinari.

 

 

 

 

 

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