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Ken Borland

Everitt’s focus is on why Sharks were practically residents in Edinburgh’s 22 but could only score 5pts 0

Posted on April 21, 2022 by Ken

The Sharks spent so much time in the Edinburgh 22 that they were practically residents, but they only managed to score five points in their United Rugby Championship match in Durban, so their awful finishing was unsurprisingly the focus of coach Sean Everitt’s post-match press conference.

Their 21-5 loss to Edinburgh means the Sharks have now slipped to eighth place behind the Stormers and Bulls and are in danger of slipping out of the playoff spots.

“It’s extremely frustrating when you create so many opportunities and you just can’t finish them,” Everitt said. “Against top teams, you need to take every opportunity and the points on offer.

“We got our maul going but we just could not finish off and capitalise on that. We had territorial and possession advantage, but we missed penalties and at times missed touch too.

“Our plan worked quite well and we got into position, but we just weren’t clinical enough to round off. It’s the same challenge every week.

“It’s all about accuracy at this higher level, how accurately you can execute on the opportunities you are given. We will have to review the game and see where we can get better,” Everitt said.

The defeat will place the spotlight firmly on some of Everitt’s selections. Curwin Bosch has now been given a run starting at flyhalf, but he was poor against Edinburgh, failing to kick a couple of penalties to touch and missing all three of his shots at goal, one of them from in front of the poles.

The departure of captain Lukhanyo Am to Japan has obviously unsettled the team and the Sharks are battling to replace him at outside centre, with Ben Tapuai and Jeremy Ward tried there without conspicuous success.

While the Sharks were cruising to bonus point wins over the likes of Benetton, the Scarlets and Zebre, they were still performances with a high error-count, especially in terms of finishing, and the worry was that the cracks that had been papered over would be exposed by the top URC sides.

Edinburgh certainly proved that to be the case as they made shark fin soup of the home side at a sopping wet Kings Park.

Budaza wishes he had not been playing cricket on 27/10/13 … but that day spurs him on to greater heights 0

Posted on October 12, 2020 by Ken

Knights pace bowler Mbulelo Budaza wishes he had not been playing cricket on October 27, 2013, but the awful tragedy that happened that day continues to spur him on to greater heights in his cricket career.

Budaza, then a 20-year-old playing for the University of Fort Hare in Alice, bowled a bouncer to Old Selbornians batsman Darryn Randall. The former Border representative tried to hook the delivery, missed and was struck a fatal blow below the eye, a freak and unimaginable accident because Randall was wearing a helmet.

The 32-year-old collapsed immediately and never regained consciousness. Amidst the horror and utter grief of the tragedy, Randall’s family forgave and offered support to the young Budaza, and said they wanted to see him rise up and go on to play for the Proteas one day.

“My grief for that day will never end, I could not believe it happened, I never stop thinking about it. But it means I badly want to succeed in my cricket career, because of the support I received from his family and mine, and from people like Greg Hayes and Mfuneko Ngam, plus Prince Dabula, the varsity psychologist.

“The Randall family said to Greg that they wanted to see me go on and play for the Proteas, they said it to motivate me and they have been very supportive. That pushes me and I’m very happy with the success I’ve had so far and I’m going to work even harder towards that goal,” Budaza says.

And an audit of Budaza’s career shows that it has certainly been onwards and upwards for the left-arm quick, who has now bowled himself into genuinely being in the conversation for higher honours.

He has been particularly effective in 50-over cricket and from 2015/16 to the 2018/19 season he played 43 games for the Knights and took 54 wickets at an average of 28.12 and an economy rate of 5.45 runs-per-over. And then last season was his real breakthrough campaign as he was the joint leading wicket-taker with Knights team-mate Shaun von Berg in the Momentum One-Day Cup, taking 18 wickets at an average of just 16.27 and an economy rate of only 4.71 as the Central Franchise reached the semi-finals before the season was cancelled due to Covid-19.

“It was a good season after a tough one the year before when everything just seemed to slow down, it was a struggle, I bowled a lot of no-balls and I just didn’t have good rhythm. But I was chuffed to come back strong and I felt very privileged to play so well, thanks to my team-mates’ support. The work I did with our new head coach Allan Donald was the first reason for my comeback and it was an honour for me to work with him. He changed some technical stuff and helped me a lot.

“I’m not really thinking about playing for the Proteas, although that is my dream. My focus is on winning games for the Knights and whatever comes from that will come. If I do well for them again this coming season then hopefully I will get a look-in with the SA A side, but I just have to make sure I am in form and winning games for the Knights.”

The lanky Budaza comes from the Eastern Cape cricket nursery that just keeps rolling out highly talented fast bowlers, but he is not so much an offshoot of township cricket as a product of the rural game.

“I was born in the farming district of Manley Flats and that’s where my cricket started. My first game was when I was watching my cousins play and they were one man short so they called me to help. I grew up playing on the streets and I was always tall. I played for the Willows Club [who Makhaya Ntini used to play for] because there was no cricket at my primary or high school, until in Grade X I got a scholarship to Woodridge College from Grade XI.

“Playing for the Willows Club in Grahamstown, Christo Esau, the Eastern Province provincial coach, and Piet Botha, the head coach –took me to Port Elizabeth for academy trials and I worked with them. Woodridge then said they wanted me and I did not hesitate because I wanted to play cricket,” Budaza explains.

Woodridge College is a private school situated between Port Elizabeth and Jeffreys Bay, so Budaza’s first provincial recognition came with the Eastern Province rural team.

“In 2010, I was chosen for the EP Rural team to go to Kimberley for the Senior Rural Cricket Week. That was a big thing for me, there is talent there and a lot of it is not recognised. So I didn’t take it for granted. I had two options after matric, to go to Fort Hare or the Eastern Province academy. I chose Fort Hare because as a bowler, to have Mfuneko Ngam as a coach would be brilliant. We worked very hard and we got very close, I was very fortunate to have him as a coach.”

Rural cricket is what used to be called Country Districts and it not only highlights the game being played in great spirit but also exposes the considerable talent that exists away from the cities. Leon Coetzee is the president of Rural Cricket South Africa and he says they desperately need more support especially after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I consistently argue that some unions are not spending enough to improve the quality of the many rural clubs in their area, to help them with coaching of coaches and better administration. SA Rural should have more to spend on developing talent, people like Ferisco Adams of Boland and Diego Rosier from Northern Cape came from rural areas and a couple of Black African stars like Mbulelo Budaza came through from Country Districts to get franchise contracts.

“If they didn’t play rural cricket then they would not have been noticed. There’s a massive amount of undiscovered rural talent, but South African cricket is focused more on the semi-pros and franchises. I have approached unions to see how we can improve relations and Covid could have a damning effect on the sustainability of many rural clubs, especially if we can only start playing next year,” Coetzee says.

In terms of style, Budaza is reminiscent of Lonwabo Tsotsobe, the last Black African left-arm quick to play Test cricket for South Africa, and although they do not come from the same community, the former number one ranked bowler in one-day international cricket is also a product of the Eastern Cape.

“They called me ‘Lopsy’ at Woodridge and we had these warm-up T-shirts and my number was also 68. The first time I watched the Proteas play live was an ODI against India in Port Elizabeth in 2011 and Tsotsobe took the first two wickets for South Africa. He was not quick but he got bounce and had a beautiful action. He was my early role-model.” Despite his talents, Budaza only played two first-class, four List A and one T20 game in two seasons with Border. But in a sign of his determination to succeed, he decided his cricket dreams should not suffer one of those long, slow deaths in a relative backwater, even if it was close to home, and he signed for Northern Cape ahead of the 2015/16 season. By that December he was making his Knights debut.

“But I did not get too many semi-pro opportunities with Border, and then Northern Cape signed me, with JP Triegaardt, who is also a very good coach, very active and works you hard,” Budaza says. “The call-up from the Knights was a surprise because I’d only been there a month or two. My first game was against the Cobras and they had all their Proteas back, bowling to guys like Hashim Amla and JP Duminy made me nervous, I had seen them on TV and now I was playing against them. But cricket is cricket so I changed nothing, I just tried to bowl in a good area for as long as possible.”

And the occasion was not too big for him as three of his first five overs were maidens.

Like Tsotsobe, Budaza is a skilful bowler, but he does not believe in bringing a whole backpack of tricks into play, preferring rather to squeeze the batsmen into submission.

“Playing a lot of cricket in Kimberley and Bloemfontein, you’ve got to be clever as a bowler and make sure your skills are up. You have to make sure you are fit and don’t get tired, because then the batsmen will punish you. Whenever I get the ball, I just try to do the right thing for the team. I’m not really chasing wickets, I try to contain and not concede runs whatever happens. But I can be aggressive if I need to be,” Budaza explains.

The member of the South African Emerging Players squad epitomises the Jewish word “Chutzpah” and the words of psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl certainly ring true in Budaza’s case “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Mbulelo Budaza has already overcome significant challenges and is growing rapidly into one of the country’s most exciting bowlers, as well as being, in coach Donald’s words: “nothing but a brilliant human being, it’s amazing how he has got himself up and made something of himself”.

Allan Donald sidebar

Allan Donald had a phenomenal record as a fast bowler and has built up a huge reputation as a bowling coach. In his new position as Knights head coach, he describes Mbulelo Budaza as being a larger-than-life character with a big work ethic.

“He’s been a solid performer for a while and is eager to learn, he tries really hard to execute whatever you’re working on and is a careful listener, before going away to do his drills on his own, he gets on with it. On his day he can swing the ball beautifully, but on some other days the wrist is not quite right and we’re working really hard on rectifying that.

“But he is a lovely character who everyone likes. A funny guy, the room lights up when he’s in it, Mbulelo is a terrific person, when I was consulting we connected very well and he’s a superstar in the making, one of the dependables. What sets him apart is that he stays competitive.

“He’s definitely got a bit more pace than Tsotsobe, but Lopsy used to swing it around corners and really late too. Mbulelo is still working on that side, but sometimes he’s fighting against that naughty wrist. But that can work in his favour because the batsman starts thinking about why it’s not swinging back in … ” Donald said.

“But he can make it move the other way and that’s why he’s so hard to face – he’s unpredictable. I tell him to just keep on faking it on those bad wrist days. But he keeps breaking partnerships on flat pitches, he has golden spells but he also just keeps plugging away. This is going to be a big season for him.”

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.

That’s awful, Bulls! 0

Posted on March 27, 2017 by Ken


The Bulls started their overseas tour with a parlous 38-14 defeat at the hands of the Blues in Albany on Saturday, a loss and awful performance that’s going to cause questions to be asked about the team’s coaching and management.

The Bulls were level 7-7 at halftime, having already conceded seven penalties, made numerous handling errors and looked out-of-sync on attack, but that’s as good as it got for the tourists as the second half saw them totally disintegrate as the Blues added five more tries to earn a bonus point.

Replacement scrumhalf Rudy Paige was given a consolation try after the final hooter, having not grounded the ball but probably deserving a penalty try anyway, but the Bulls had been goners long before that.

The Bulls started brightly enough with a promising attack in the Blues’ 22, but referee Nic Berry ended it with a harsh obstruction call. The home side’s backline was gone in a flash, roaring up the left side of the field and some superb handling and offloads by fullback Michael Collins and wing Melani Nanai saw scrumhalf Augustine Pulu scooting over the line for the opening try, in the third minute.

The Bulls would be back on level terms after 17 minutes as they earned a ruck penalty, flyhalf Handre Pollard’s super kick set up a lineout in the corner and prop Lizo Gqoboka burrowed over for a try after the driving maul.

There would be further opportunities for the Bulls in the first half, but they were ponderous with turnover ball and their dire handling meant errors interrupted just about every attack after a few phases.

The second half would be the same story, only worse, as the Blues quickly seized control of the game.

An early attack by the Bulls came to nothing as nobody seemed to know who was meant to clean, be a pillar or play halfback at a ruck, and Pollard then missed a tackle on Collins, allowing a lovely offload to wing Matt Duffie, who went through a poor tackle by opposite number Jamba Ulengo to score the second try, also converted by flyhalf Piers Francis.

The most astonishing example of clueless play by the Bulls came in the 56th minute. Lock Lood de Jager did well to steal the ball at a five-metre lineout, but at the resulting ruck, scrumhalf Piet van Zyl went to play pillar and replacement flank Jannes Kirsten cleared the ball, making the awful decision to feed a pod inside his own in-goal area. That conceded a five-metre scrum, from which Francis’s pinpoint kick-pass across the field was claimed by Duffie for his second try.

It didn’t even help the Bulls when Blues flank Jimmy Tupou was temporarily sent from the field for a neck roll. Pollard was replaced on the hour mark in what was apparently a scheduled change, but new flyhalf Tian Schoeman was unable to find touch from a scrum penalty the Bulls earned.

Soon thereafter, Ulengo burst out of defensive alignment like a crazed shopper going after Black Friday sales, and the Blues’ replacement flyhalf, Ihaia West, knifed through to score.

The Blues were 24-7 up and continued to boss the game as one was left with the nagging impression that the Bulls ran out of legs.

The home side were able to hang on to the ball through numerous phases because of their impressive handling skills, with outside centre Rieko Ioane making his presence felt with a couple of great runs, going from one side of the field to the other before replacement hooker Matt Moulds ended the attack by going over in the corner.

West had barely kicked the conversion for a 31-7 lead when he was bursting through the line again, with the Bulls defence far too narrow, creating acres of space out wide for Nanai to go roaring through for a dazzling try.

The Bulls did get the final points as they earned a free kick at a scrum under the poles and Paige, who should have come on earlier for a hesitant Van Zyl, went on his own to score their second try.

While most pundits expected the Bulls to lose, nobody expected such a dismal display from them and they have a lot of introspection ahead of them this week before facing the mighty Chiefs.


BluesTries: Augustine Pulu, Matt Duffie (2), Ihaia West, Matt Moulds, Melani Nanai. Conversions: Piers Francis (2), West (2).

BullsTries: Lizo Gqoboka, Rudy Paige. Conversions: Handre Pollard, Tian Schoeman.



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