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Ken Borland



Everything goes pear-shaped for SA v Belgium 0

Posted on July 17, 2017 by Ken

 

Everything went wrong for South Africa’s men’s side in a nightmare first half in which they conceded seven goals, before they regrouped and eventually lost 9-1 to Belgium in their Hockey World League match at the Wits Astro on Monday night.

While South Africa were undeniably poor, flatfooted and always half-a-yard off the pace of the game, credit must also go to Belgium for a dazzling first half in which everything they touched turned to gold, thanks to some ruthless finishing.

The home side, except for 18-year-old Dayaan Cassiem, waging a lone battle as he ran impressively up front, showed little of the fight that had characterised their women’s side in their memorable win over the USA the night before.

The first 20 minutes were bad enough for South Africa as they found themselves 3-0 down, Belgium scoring through an Alexander Hendrickx short-corner goal, Nicolas de Kerpel one-timing a loose ball into the roof of the net for a wonder-goal, and then captain Thomas Briels scrambling in the third.

Except it would get worse as Belgium then piled on four goals in the last five minutes of the first half. Simon Gougnard was allowed to waltz along the baseline before passing to a totally unmarked Briels to score the fourth; Sebastien Dockier also just ran away from his marker to get a good pass from Gauthier Boccard and slam a reverse-sticks rocket in; and Loick Luypaert’s fluffed short-corner drag-flick then somehow eluded goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse and post-man Tim Drummond; before Cedric Charlier, the driver of much of Belgium’s attacking play, got on the end of an overhead from Augustin Meurmans, showed good skill dribbling into the circle and then shot home between the goalkeeper’s legs.

South Africa coach Fabian Gregory said the mentality of the shellshocked team for the second half was just to make it a contest, which they succeeded in doing.

“In the first half we made unforced errors, our basic skills were non-existent and we could not keep the ball, and you cannot do that against a world-class team like Belgium, they punished us every time, but I was disappointed by some of the soft goals we let in.

“The second half was the type of hockey I expect from the team after a really disappointing first half. It was about how much we could compete, we said we were starting again at 0-0 and we will try and salvage something from the game,” Gregory said afterwards.

The second half did not start well for the hosts though as Jethro Eustice made a good tackle in the circle but the ball went back towards his own goal, and Matthew Guise-Brown slipped in trying to clear it and Dockier was presented with an easy goal.

But South Africa were on the scoreboard two minutes later as Guise-Brown fired a superb short-corner drag-flick into the top-right corner and they had a handful of other good chances in the second half.

It was Belgium who would have the final say, however, as more soft defending by South Africa in the 59th minute saw them just stand off and allow Boccard to run into the circle and fire the ball into goal past Richard Curtis, who replaced Pieterse for the second half and impressed.

Gregory said he was particularly unhappy that his team did not stick to the strategy that had been decided beforehand.

“If I’m brutally honest, the team did not execute tactically what we asked for, the application of that strategy was terrible and that’s why we did not cope well with the Belgian press.”

South Africa will now play a promotion/relegation game against Japan on Friday and will be desperate to stay up in the elite Hockey World League.

Germany, Belgium, Ireland and Egypt will go through to the quarterfinals from Pool B, to play France, New Zealand, Spain and Australia respectively.

Results: Germany 2 (Tom Grambusch, Martin Zwicker) Ireland 0; Australia 7 (Mark Knowles, Jake Whetton 2, Dylan Wotherspoon, Aran Zalewski, Tom Wickham, Jeremy Hayward) Japan 2 (Shota Yamada, Hirotaka Zendana); Spain 4 (Josep Romeu, Enrique Gonzalez, Alvaro Iglesias, Pau Quemada) New Zealand 3 (Shea McAleese, Nic Woods, Kane Russell); Belgium 9 (Alexander Hendrickx, Nicolas de Kerpel, Thomas Briels 2, Sebastien Dockier 2, Loick Luypaert, Cedric Charlier, Gauthier Boccard) South Africa 1 (Matthew Guise-Brown).

Tuesday’s fixtures (women’s quarterfinals): 11.15 USA v Japan; 1.30 Argentina v Ireland; 3.45 England v India; 6pm Germany v South Africa.

SA rugby needs decency more than anything else 0

Posted on January 12, 2017 by Ken

 

In terms of rugby, the New Year is all about finding answers to the question “What is wrong with South African rugby?”, but two incidents in the last month show that, perhaps more than anything else, some of our players and administrators have to ditch their self-serving attitudes and get back to the old values of the game that were rooted in common decency and humility.

The recent actions of the Western Province Rugby Football Union and current Springbok player Johan Goosen suggest the problems are more about individuals being rotten to the core rather than structural issues.

Let’s start with Goosen and I’m not going to say anything more about his on-field performance than my feeling he has flattered to deceive, although the fact that he never had a start at flyhalf is a mitigating factor.

But his tawdry actions in trying to get out of a lucrative contract with Racing Metro, that he only signed a few months ago and that netted him €500 000 a year until 2020, indicate this is a man of scant integrity and someone who clearly does not put team ahead of self.

A couple of weeks ago Goosen announced his retirement from rugby at the age of just 24, following one of his more injury-free years and his return to international rugby, saying he was going to become commercial director of a Free State based agricultural company.

Of course no one is really going to believe that and his name has since appeared on a Cheetahs training squad list and it has since been said that Goosen is ultimately going to Gloucester, once Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad becomes the English club’s majority shareholder.

With flagrant disregard for any ethical considerations, Goosen has taken advantage of a loophole in French labour law which makes all fixed-term rugby contracts temporary. Hence a player can be released from his contract without penalty if he finds fulltime employment – ostensibly Goosen’s dubious “commercial director” job.

The actions of Western Province rugby are just as cynical and what little faith their loyal supporters had in their administrators must now have almost totally dissipated.

They had applied for liquidation of the business arm of WP Rugby and then, just a day after that was granted by the Cape High Court, the Western Province Rugby Football Union announced that the insolvent company had been bought by one of their other companies.

Having put Western Province rugby into financial strife, the likes of president Thelo Wakefield and CEO Paul Zacks are glibly trying to slip through a loophole in thoroughly dishonourable fashion to evade their creditors, most notably with sponsorship company Aerios.

And these are the calibre of administrators that have been put in charge of one of the most legendary brands in rugby?!

Goosen has surely played his last game in the Green and Gold because people of such deviousness really should not be representing our country. He should also not be allowed to play Super Rugby and the Springbok coach must ensure his players will make the nation proud, not embarrass us on an international stage; the good of the game must come before the avaricious accumulation of individual wealth.

Wakefield must also surely fall on his sword. This is not some village rugby team he is mishandling, but one of the proudest rugby legacies in the world, whose fans should be feeling deeply humiliated.



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