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Ken Borland

Improvement in Sharks rugby thanks to excellent culture 0

Posted on February 22, 2021 by Ken

The improvement in Sharks rugby has been most apparent on the field as they led SuperRugby before Covid struck and then reached the final of the Currie Cup, only losing in extra time to the Bulls, but those gains are also dependent on the excellent work done behind the scenes by the administrators.

This may be Sean Everitt’s first major coaching gig but he has a wise rugby head and his player management is superb; the team culture he has helped develop at Kings Park has been phenomenal. The Sharks also have an outstanding CEO of vision in Eduard Coetzee and recently-ascended president Brian van Zyl is a seasoned administrator who built much of the union’s success in the professional era during his time as chief executive.

And the reward for all that good administration has been the confidence expressed in the union by new equity partners MVM Holdings, a consortium with deep pockets, once they had been snubbed by Western Province. That investment will certainly allow the Sharks to bolster their playing resources, and they have done so immediately by signing Springbok captain Siya Kolisi.

But the Sharks are well aware that bagloads of money and buying the best players does not necessarily guarantee success; they know that the entire organisation needs a shared vision that they are all working towards.

That new equity investment means there is suddenly budget for some extra things and I was one of the journalists fortunate enough to be flown down to Durban by the Sharks this week to see Kolisi being officially unveiled as a Sharks player.

And seeing first-hand what is going on at Kings Park, it is obvious that something special is happening and these are very exciting times for the Sharks.

Kolisi spoke about how the whole culture and vibe of the Sharks caught his attention a while back and how obvious it was to him that Durban should be his new home once he had decided to end his 11-year stay in Cape Town.

Following his media duties, Kolisi was part of an induction session with all the wide-eyed new intake of academy players at which Coetzee explained the core values of the Sharks. The motto “We are an inclusive culture underpinned by diversity” featured strongly and the spirit of the Sharks team shows they are living the tenets of that ideal.

The inclusion of all cultures is an obvious part of the team dynamic and Kolisi was part of a ceremony based on the tradition of placing your own stone on a cairn of rocks whenever you should pass by one.

Called Isivivane, it signifies the commitment to contribute your best to the new, shared journey you are embarking on.

Kolisi knows all about commitment – having proposed to his wife Rachel on a helicopter flying over Constantia, they have since built a family that has taken in Siya’s two young half-siblings, who were in foster care.

The Sharks environment is also one of caring, with Coetzee taking pride in how well he treats all his players and staff, although there is a constant focus on meeting the standards required of a top rugby franchise.

Everitt himself popped in even though he is technically still on holiday, and was in good cheer despite the recent trauma of the Currie Cup final.

He will not be putting Kolisi under any extra pressure after the fraught 2020 he had with injuries, Covid and the administrative problems in Western Province rugby. The 29-year-old will be given the time and space to get fully fit and ready in body and mind to produce his best on the field. The captaincy will stay with Lukhanyo Am, whose leadership has been a great positive, but there is no doubt Kolisi will be an inspirational presence.

 From the office of the CEO down to the junior staff, there is just a good energy at Kings Park these days. These are exciting times indeed for Sharks rugby.

Erasmus worried about personal welfare of Springboks 0

Posted on September 29, 2020 by Ken

South Africa’s Rugby Championship participation is obviously dependent on government approval, but player welfare is also a major concern for Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and his personal opinion is that the Springboks are going to be underdone in terms of game time.

South Africa’s opening Rugby Championship game is against Argentina on November 7 and they have to arrive in Australia by October 18 in order to quarantine for two weeks, but that means the members of the Springbok squad that are based in South Africa will only have a maximum of 240 minutes under their belts – SuperFan Saturday, this weekend’s Green v Gold match and the opening round of Super Rugby Unlocked.

“We desperately want to play because it would be terrible to have a year with no Test rugby. But we’ve had no clear answer from the English clubs about their semi-finals and final, we have to take a massive squad because you need four players in each key position and we all have to arrive at the same time because of two weeks quarantine, during which we can practise together.

“The science tells us that the players need five or six games, 400-500 minutes, before playing Test rugby is safe because of the injury risk and player welfare. It’s a tough one because we know we have to go, but we just don’t know how it’s going to be possible. And we don’t have much time to sort it out, the decisions all have to be done by October 10. It’s a matter of high performance and player welfare, we want to be competitive but 240 minutes is the most our players will have,” Erasmus said on Monday.

It’s fortunate that the players don’t have to be isolated in their hotel rooms, stuck on their cellular phones and gaming devices, for their two-week isolation, but even playing intra-squad matches between themselves is fraught with risk.

“We’ll be lucky if most of them have more than 200 minutes game time when we arrive in Australia, but we can probably still play against each other, a 46-man squad means we have two teams of 23. So if we play twice then that adds another 160 minutes, takes us to 360, which is nearly there. And there may be more intensity than usual because the guys will be playing for spots. “But then there’s also the risk of more injuries. And it’s not just your 15 players that you are worried about, it could be any of 30 guys on the field at any given time. Plus all 46 of the squad have played less than 200 minutes and have been under strict Lockdown, the toughest in the world. So there are a lot of problems with that as well! But ultimately the decision will be made for us,” Erasmus said.

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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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