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Ken Borland

SA rugby forever bonded with Kitch’s ‘high or low road’, but Jake says it’s too early for that 0

Posted on September 05, 2023 by Ken

South African rugby will forever be bonded with Kitch Christie’s famous ‘high road or the low road’ scenario before the 1995 World Cup triumph, but Bulls coach Jake White says it is still too early to consider his team as being at a similar crossroads ahead of their crunch United Rugby Championship match against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

Coach Christie said it was crucial that the Springboks beat defending champions and favourites Australia in the opening match of the 1995 World Cup and take the “high road” through the tournament; defeat would mean the “low road” requiring victories over England and New Zealand before the final. South Africa pulled off a sensational 28-18 win, setting them up for an unbeaten run through the tournament they hosted.

The Bulls, having lost last weekend to the Stormers in Cape Town, are now five points behind the defending champions in the South African Shield, having played an extra game. If the Sharks beat the Bulls with a bonus point at Kings Park, then they could be within another bonus-point win of the Pretoria side, with a game in hand.

But White, who has called the late Christie his mentor, is not stressing about the log at this stage.

“We’re not at the high road or low road point yet and it’s not a do-or-die game,” White said on Friday. “It’s still so open, although we do know Leinster are the pace-setters, they always have been.

“We beat the Sharks with a bonus point at Loftus, and if the Sharks beat the Stormers twice and we win this weekend, then we would be favourites again to win the conference.

“There are still a lot of permutations between now and the end of the tournament, and not every team will win every game at home. Winning a couple of matches away is the premium.

“But we will be up against one of the strongest provincial sides, although one thing I enjoy about the URC is that a team can beat anyone on any given Saturday. That’s exciting,” White said.

Nine current Springboks is what the Bulls, who will field Johan Goosen at fullback and Chris Smith at flyhalf, are up against. The combination of Smith and Goosen played in the pivotal game-management positions when the Bulls beat the Sharks 40-27 at Loftus Versfeld at the end of October, which is why White has made that selection again.

“The last time we played the Sharks we did that and it worked well, and we didn’t have Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie then,” White said. “It means we have two kickers and two passers and can move the ball away from flyhalf.

“I’ve heard it might rain in Durban too and the Sharks don’t play much in their own half, they have a good kicking game and Makazole Mapimpi is very good in the air.

“But it’s not just a reaction to them, it worked for us at home and it gives us two guys who understand how we want to play. It’s important that Bernard van der Linde can also kick with both feet at scrumhalf,” White said.

Bulls:Johan Goosen, Canan Moodie, Cornal Hendricks, Harold Vorster, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Chris Smith, Bernard van der Linde, Elrigh Louw, Cyle Brink, Marco Van Staden, Ruan Nortje (c), Ruan Vermaak, Mornay Smith, Johan Grobbelaar, Simphiwe Matanzima. Bench -Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Gerhard Steenekamp, Sebastian Lombard, Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Lionel Mapoe, David Kriel.

Elgar has a reputation for being a bit gabby, but he’s not afraid to talk about his own shortcomings 0

Posted on February 28, 2023 by Ken

Dean Elgar has a reputation amongst opposition teams for being a bit gabby, but the Proteas captain is not afraid to talk about his own shortcomings and on Sunday he revealed the hard work he has been doing to get his batting back on track ahead of the Test series in Australia.

Opener Elgar is one of the senior statesmen in the South African batting line-up, usually setting a solid tone up front, but he was disappointed with his output on the England tour, scoring just 107 runs in five innings.

The left-hander revealed that he has done a technical overhaul, that seems to be working judging by his form for the Northerns Titans in domestic four-day cricket. Elgar scored 55 and 25 not out to help steer the Titans to a 10-wicket win over the Central Gauteng Lions at the Wanderers on Sunday. With his 137 against the Free State Knights, he is averaging 72.33 this season.

“It feels good to get runs under the belt, obviously to influence the team and to get my game in order with something big coming up [the Australia Tests]. I’ve had a nice three weeks prep.

“I’ve been able to get my confidence back up high and sort out some technical stuff. Knowing where your off-stump is is important, one of the basic fundamentals, but there are a lot of other basics I’ve worked on too.

“I was doing stuff in England which I never used to do, so I broke down my technique and tried to make what I thought were weaknesses less so.

“Having experience really helps because I know when something is wrong, although it is easier said than done to fix it. But it’s nice to be able to do it at domestic level where there is less pressure,” Elgar said.

Visiting captains always feel the heat in Australia, so Elgar has been well-advised to make sure his own game is shipshape. The straight-talking skipper did not hide his disappointment that his vice-captain, Temba Bavuma, and senior fast bowler Kagiso Rabada, who are both sure to feel the warmth Down Under too after underwhelming T20 World Cup campaigns there, have not played any four-day cricket before the tour.

“KG is maybe one exception because his workload is quite high and I can maybe understand him having the time off with fast bowling being extremely demanding,” Elgar said.

“But batsmen should ideally be trying to utilise time in the middle, although I have no control over the medical rules. But playing domestically is the best place to get form and confidence.

“Getting runs here can really change your thought patterns. So it has been nice to see a lot of the squad playing and working on technical flaws. A guy like Kyle Verreynne has obviously worked hard and scored a lot of runs.

“I’m a bit concerned with our seam bowling though. There has been a lot of emphasis on T20 cricket and the bowlers are not conditioned enough for long spells or bowling all day,” Elgar warned.

Ewing resigns as national men’s coach, did he hide SA Hockey failings with his fine performances? 0

Posted on February 16, 2023 by Ken

Garreth Ewing has resigned with immediate effect as the national men’s hockey coach and there are fears in South African hockey circles that the fine performances he achieved with the team were merely hiding the level of maladministration in the game and tough times lie ahead for the team.

Ewing made public on social media on Tuesday the reasons for his shock decision to leave his post, just before the FIH Nations Cup tournament starts in Potchefstroom on November 28. The 48-year-old said his resignation was “a final response to an accumulation of events … These were starting to impact on me, both personally and professionally. The weight of it all was putting strain on my relationships, both inside and outside the team, and my health, both physical and mental”.

Describing his decision as “an act of self-care”, Ewing said he will “look forward to falling in love with hockey again”.

Under his watch since 2019, South Africa were winless and last in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, despite beating Germany 4-3. They were, though, invited to participate in the elite Pro League and earlier this year they reached the semi-finals of the Commonwealth Games for the first time in 20 years and have qualified for next year’s World Cup since then with their strong showings seeing Ewing nominated this year for the FIH Coach of the Year award. They have moved up to 14th in the world rankings.

But insiders speak of all these achievements being despite the administration and not because of it. One stakeholder from the sponsorship market told The Citizen “SA Hockey are the most amateur and disorganised sports body we work with”.

Amongst the frustrations cited by those around the team are the players being told three days before leaving for Malaysia and the recent Sultan Azlan Shah Cup that they had to come up with R41 000 each to play in the tournament.

For the FIH Nations Cup in Potchefstroom, which will decide the one team who joins the Pro League next year, the South African team will not be staying in the Astro Villas next to the venue, but instead the home team has had to stay in a school boarding house free of charge. This is because SA Hockey allegedly missed the deadline to apply for accommodation.

It is apparently not the first time SA Hockey have missed a deadline. Potchefstroom were going to bid to hoist the 2026 World Cup and were ready to fly to Switzerland to present their case, with SA Hockey only needing to get permission from the Department of Sport, which they failed to do.

The team are also apparently furious that the SA Hockey Association did not bother to vote for either Ewing or star SA women’s player Phumelela Mbande, who was nominated for the goalkeeper of the year award.

The lack of sponsorship for the national hockey teams is well-known and they have had to resort to crowdfunding to attend the previous Olympics.

“We want to know what work has been done to get a sponsor? Sponsors have told us that they don’t know if the money will go to the team if they do invest, and if we get a sponsor, then SA Hockey says they have to go through their marketing department. How are we meant to prepare properly when we only know a week before for sure that we’re going to a tournament?” a member of the national squad said.

While the North-West University love hosting international events in Potchefstroom, it is believed SA Hockey still owe them money for hosting fees. The Citizen were not able to confirm this with the university’s hockey administration, however.

Since the much-admired Marissa Langeni stepped down as CEO in April after more than 12 years at the helm, SA Hockey appointed an interim CEO in Shaune Baaitjies, who has a BCom Honours in Industrial and Organisational Psychology and describes herself as a leadership coach on her LinkedIn profile.

SA Hockey have also not held their election for a new executive for more than a year, reportedly because president Deon Morgan was making a run for a position on the FIH Board. He has now been elected as part of the executive team at global level and it is believed a date and nominees have been decided for an election, but no statement has been made by the federation.

Baaitjies did not respond to questions about all these issues sent to her by The Citizen.

Although it is a mass participation sport at grassroots level and both national teams are impressively transformed, how hockey is going to ensure sustainability with all these leadership issues is a massive concern.

Prim & proper Brevis has a talent for destruction 0

Posted on January 25, 2023 by Ken

Dewald Brevis has a phenomenal talent for batting destruction, but in terms of character he seems a prim and proper, respectful young man who backs himself to the hilt, but is also not getting ahead of himself.

Importantly, he always seems to play with a chuffed smile on his face, and that grin was as broad as the bat with which he plundered 13 sixes during his incredible innings of 162 off only 57 balls, breaking all sorts of records, for the Northerns Titans against Free State Knights in the CSA T20 Challenge in Potchefstroom.

A more emphatic statement of proof that the 19-year-old is the genuine real deal could not have been made. While Brevis believed last year already that he was ready to play for the Proteas, he understood the need for him to go through the journey of dominating at senior level after being player of the tournament in the U19 World Cup earlier this year, with a record tally of runs.

“Playing in this tournament is an important part of learning my game, I have to do this, it’s part of my journey. I’m at the right place, where I need to be, scoring thirties and forties was part of my development,” Brevis said after exploding into the limelight.

“Everything is built up, every match is part of learning your game, and what’s important is that this innings was the next stepping stone. The people in control [of national selection] know best and it will work out as it should.”

Brevis is the quintessential modern T20 superstar. His magnificent ball-striking and confidence to back himself from ball one fits in perfectly with where the shortest international format is heading, plus he offers dangerous leg-spin bowling, the hardest craft to master but one in which he already shows much promise. And he is a superb fielder – he capped his unbelievable innings with a brilliantly-judged boundary catch against the Knights.

“The tougher the conditions, the better I am. I’m always trying to be positive, you must take the first three balls of an over on, don’t wait until the last three because then the bowler is on top.

“You have to allow good balls as well, there always will be good balls, but you must try and score ones off them. I’m trying to score off every ball,” Brevis said.

After the current T20 World Cup, we will surely see Brevis take his talent to the international stage.

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    Philemon 1:7 – “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”

    “Every disciple of Jesus has a capacity for love. The most effective way to serve the Master is to share his love with others. Love can comfort, save the lost, and offer hope to those who need it. It can break down barriers, build bridges, establish relationships and heal wounds.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech

    If there’s a frustrating vacuum in your spiritual life and you fervently desire to serve the Lord but don’t know how you’re meant to do that, then start by loving others in his name.


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