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Ken Borland

Nienaber bravely tries to limit damage to Jantjies’ confidence 0

Posted on August 15, 2022 by Ken

Having gambled and lost with his selection of Elton Jantjies at flyhalf, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber bravely tried to limit the damage to his player’s confidence after the first Test against Wales at Loftus Versfeld.

Jantjies endured a miserable first half of skewed kicks out-of-hand, missed shots at goal and a dropped ball that led to a try, and was substituted before the start of the second half with the Springboks 18-3 down. Barring a few exceptions, the whole team had been sub-par in the first half, but with the help of pugnacious input from the bench, they staged a stirring comeback to win 32-29.

It is only right, though, that Nienaber stand up for Jantjies because the player was put in an invidious position by being selected for the first Test with, as the coach himself said after the game, “less than 30 minutes of game-time this year”.

I can understand why the risk was taken with Jantjies, who has only just recovered from a shoulder injury and whose club did not make the playoffs of Japan’s Rugby League One. The 31-year-old has also had the mental stress of being charged with malicious damage to property and contravention of the Aviation Act to deal with, before those charges were withdrawn after he agreed to pay for the damage he caused to an aeroplane flying back from Turkey.

Flyhalf is one of the few areas where the Springboks are lacking depth and the management were obviously planning ahead in case first-choice Handre Pollard suddenly gets injured. If Jantjies then had to come in and play with so little rugby under his belt, it could have been even worse.

The World Cup winner does now at least have 40 minutes of game-time, and hopefully the trauma of it has not dented his confidence too much.

Nienaber tried to sugarcoat his replacement as being because “he had given everything”, but when he said “he hasn’t played any rugby” he was closer to the reason why.

Despite the fan furore, Jantjies is still a player who has much to offer the Springboks. What he is capable of when in form definitely adds some attacking spark to a team which, for long periods of the first half against Wales, looked desperately in need of some offensive verve.

How he bounces back from this calamitous showing is what matters now.

Bavuma wants his batsmen to bravely go where no batters have gone before 0

Posted on June 30, 2022 by Ken

Batsmen in the current IPL have bravely gone where no batters have gone before in hitting more than one-thousand sixes in the current competition, and Proteas captain Temba Bavuma is hoping his batsmen can play with similar freedom when South Africa play a T20 series in India next month.

The one-thousand sixes barrier was broken for the first time in the IPL in the final league stage match of 2022 on May 22, the previous most maximums in a season being the 872 scored in 2018.

“I’ve really enjoyed being off from cricket for the last four weeks, so I have not watched all the IPL, but the one thing I have seen is that there have been a lot more sixes hit – more than a thousand,” Bavuma said at a Castle Lager launch in Tembisa on Wednesday.

“As a bowler, you’re probably scared to see that, but you’re smiling as a batsman. It means our bowlers will need to be a lot smarter, but for the batsmen, the pitches are good.

“Our batsmen can really go out and express themselves. Our game doesn’t need to change too much, but to have power-hitters like David Miller and Tristan Stubbs teaming up together in the middle would be incredible.

“They could be a potent partnership. David smashed the lights out yesterday to get Gujarat Titans in the final, Quinton de Kock bashed it around the other night and Kagiso Rabada has been brilliant as well,” Bavuma said.

While Stubbs will be fighting with the likes of Heinrich Klaasen and Reeza Hendricks for the one batting spot that could be open, Bavuma is backing the 21-year-old to make his mark on his first call-up to the Proteas squad.

“It’s nice to see young new faces in the team and we’ve been on the receiving end of Tristan’s batting a number of times at the Lions. We’ll try to make the environment as comfortable as we can for him.

“He’s a young guy so he also has the opportunity to learn a lot from the older guys in the team. He’ll have guys around him to make his transition to international cricket as smooth as possible.

“Hopefully he can soak it all in because international cricket is different to the IPL or domestic T20. Hopefully he can really take his career forward.

“We have a couple of guys in really good form from the IPL, but we expect it to be a tough series. India are always very competitive and we’ve seen some of their guys have a very good IPL as well,” Bavuma said.

Bravely entering a new world is paying off for SA Rugby 0

Posted on June 21, 2022 by Ken

When SA Rugby bravely shifted away from their long-standing relationship with Sanzaar and SuperRugby and decided to throw in their lot with European club competition, there was plenty of uncertainty as to just how well the move would pan out.

Now, with the United Rugby Championship in its final weekend of round-robin action and three South African sides in the quarterfinals already, one can only say it has been a great success.

It’s been a tremendous journey for the Sharks, Stormers and Bulls, and even the Lions have shown their worth in being way more competitive than many expected. The tentative first steps into the URC were made when the country was still in the grips of Covid restrictions, the franchises were without their Springboks and they had to start their campaigns in Europe in the northern hemisphere autumn.

It was a chastening introduction and there were understandable fears over whether SA Rugby had made the right decision. Wiser heads pointed to the circumstances above and pleaded patience.

And how richly that patience has been rewarded with the four South African teams tenaciously dominating the second half of the competition, making their home stadiums fortresses and producing some thrilling rugby in the process.

Of all the sports in South Africa, rugby has probably borne the brunt of Covid, given how they were the code which was most accustomed to having big crowds in stadiums.

With at least one URC home quarterfinal guaranteed, wouldn’t it be marvellous for that team/s to have the backing of a properly sold-out stadium?

SA Rugby have been patience personified when it comes to working with government and their time-lines in terms of Covid protocols. But having seen the British and Irish Lions tour almost ruined last year, one totally understands their frustration at how slowly the wheels are now turning to get spectators fully back into stadiums.

If only Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa was as preoccupied with something that really will contribute to the economy, rather than that stupid monumental flag of his.

You always see politicians front and centre, ensuring they are in the limelight, when our sports teams enjoy global success. They piggyback so hard on the triumphs that you cannot help but wonder whether they believe they played an integral part in achieving the result.

The truth, of course, is that politicians do very little for sport in this country. You only need to look at facilities, especially at grassroots level, to see that. And yet they bask in the nation-building and social cohesion that sporting success brings, as if they had a key role in ensuring those outcomes. It is just another example of the parasitic tendencies of our politicians.

But even without capacity crowds in South Africa just yet, one feels the URC will go from strength-to-strength.

On the last weekend of round-robin play, defending champions Leinster are guaranteed to finish first on the log, but little else is certain. A team like the Bulls, depending on the results, could either finish second or seventh in the final standings.

And playing in the European Champions Cup next season will only heighten the hype here in South Africa.

Given the steady flow of South Africans to those teams, there has always been great interest in the English and French clubs and now those powerhouses will be coming to these shores as well.

SA Rugby are sure to see the vindication of their brave move in the years to come, as aligning with the major economies of the rugby world will bring an even greater profile to South African rugby.

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    John 15:16 – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

    Our Christian experience begins when the Holy Spirit starts working in our imperfect lives. An inexplicable restlessness and a feeling that nothing can give you the satisfaction you yearn for, could be the Spirit working in you.

    Even when God calls you and chooses you to serve him, there may be inner conflict and confusion because you are not always willing to do what God is asking of you.

    But this inner struggle is part of spiritual life … Commit yourself to God and open yourself to the inflowing of the Holy Spirit.

    It is by great grace that you were chosen by God to serve him and to live to the honour and glory of his name. Surrender unconditionally to the Lord and you will discover that your life gains new meaning and purpose.

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