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Ken Borland

Like the wife behind every successful husband, Boks want a big Loftus crowd behind them 0

Posted on August 08, 2022 by Ken

Everyone knows the saying about what is behind every successful husband, and the Springboks are really looking forward to having a capacity Loftus Versfeld crowd behind them as they return to action in the first Test against Wales in Pretoria on Saturday.

By late afternoon on Monday there were only a couple of thousand tickets still available for the 52 000-seater stadium that is considered one of the cathedrals of South African rugby. Saturday’s match will be the first time the Springboks have been able to play in front a capacity crowd at home since their 2019 World Cup triumph.

“We are very excited to be playing in front of our home crowd,” assistant coach Deon Davids said on Monday. “It’s also important for us to say thank you for all their support after the World Cup win.

“We want to feed from their energy on Saturday and reward them with the way we play. It’s a special occasion for us.

“Playing at Loftus, altitude is always a factor, but visiting teams have also evolved in terms of coping with it. Wales would have done lots of research on how to deal with it.

“I believe they will be conditioned well enough to hang on in there and that’s what Wales do – they stay in the fight until the last minute,” Davids said.

The Springboks will announce their team on Tuesday and Davids did not want to be drawn on selection matters, while sending a reminder that the Springboks have winning as a priority, along with giving exciting new players the sort of exposure at international level that the fans are clamouring for.

“We are working towards a bigger picture, which is next year’s World Cup,” Davids said. “But it’s also important for us to win our games and give ourselves the best opportunity of doing that.

“So it’s important to get the balance right between the importance of giving young players opportunity, building combinations and ensuring victory.

“We’re under no illusions – it’s going to be a tough series – and we have had some discussions, we’ve looked at what we want to achieve in this Test. We’re looking at a combination we feel can give us a result.

“It’s also about how you prepare the next 23 of players, get them aligned with how we are doing things differently at the Springboks. Success is also measured in how quickly we can get them aligned and get our combinations right,” Davids said.

Proteas skippers like a choir singing from the same hymn sheet, eases captaincy burden 0

Posted on May 16, 2022 by Ken

A successful choir obviously needs everyone singing together in complementary fashion and the Proteas’ success over the last summer has certainly been a team effort, but coach Mark Boucher has spoken of the importance of having the two captains, Dean Elgar and Temba Bavuma, singing from the same hymn sheet.

Since the unfortunate experiment with Quinton de Kock as captain, Elgar and Bavuma have taken over the red and white-ball sides respectively for the last 13 months and the split captaincy has worked well, although the consistency of the limited-overs side has perhaps left something to be desired.

“Dean and Temba came in as leaders in a tough time,” Boucher said. “They are completely different characters, but they have rubbed off on each other. They feed off each other and they speak to each other a lot.

“They have also both been in really good form with the bat and have been leading from the front.

“What’s been particularly good is that they are on the same page when it comes to where they want to take South African cricket,” Boucher said.

Elgar said the success of the Test team has helped to ease the burden of captaincy, which is never easy when there is so much going on off the field to deal with.

“Everything good comes with a challenge and I like challenges,” Elgar said. “That’s why I’m still playing Test cricket at nearly 35 years old and I feel my best cricket is still ahead of me.

“If I was younger, maybe I wouldn’t enjoy the captaincy as much. It has been extremely testing off the field, but I have an amazing core of players around me, they respect and understand me as a person.

“I think we’re in a very special place as a team and that leads to me being a lot happier with what I’m doing. Getting results and playing good, strong cricket, definitely eases the burden of captaincy,” Elgar said.

Elgar and Boucher are both hard-nosed leaders who would perhaps not be out of place training recruits in the marine corps. And they have both suggested the players who went to the IPL instead of playing in the Bangladesh series will not automatically get their Test places back.

“I don’t think it’s fair to just say they come back,” Elgar said. “The guys playing now have made a massive statement. We have a decent batting pool now.

“Someone like Ryan Rickelton has taken to Test cricket pretty well, he’s had a taste and now understands it. Even if the intensity was not quite what it will be playing England.

“But it’s out of my hands whether the IPL guys get selected again,” Elgar said.

“The IPL guys did vacate their spots and there is now good competition for those spots. It’s a nice position to be in,” Boucher said.

Kapp keeps her wits about her … and hopes for more support for banker Wolvaardt 0

Posted on April 12, 2022 by Ken

Marizanne Kapp has proven her ability to keep her wits about her when everyone else is losing their heads at the Women’s World Cup in New Zealand, but South Africa’s star all-rounder is confident some of the other batters will step up this week and offer more support to banker Laura Wolvaardt.

Kapp’s heroics at the death mean South Africa go into the third week of the World Cup unbeaten. But it is a massive week for the Proteas with matches against Australia (Tuesday), the West Indies (Thursday) and India (Sunday) to come. One more win will confirm their place in the semi-finals.

Wolvaardt has led the way for the South African batting with three half-centuries in four innings, but Kapp and captain Sune Luus are the only other Proteas to have scored more than 100 runs in their four matches.

“We have been a bit lucky, we’ve got away with a few games where experience pulled us through,” Kapp admitted on Sunday. “We are aware that we have not played our best cricket yet.

“But I am sure we will come back stronger this week. The bowling has been decent, because it’s not easy bowling on these pitches which are a lot slower than we are used to.

“But if our batting can really come to the party then that will help a lot. Wolvie has been brilliant, you’re still calm as long as she’s in the middle. She’s amazing to have, a banker for us.

“Sune has supported her in a couple of brilliant partnerships, but we need a few more batters to put up their hands and that will get us to 280-300 and the perfect game,” Kapp said.

Affectionately known as Kappie, the 32-year-old has certainly punctuated this World Cup with some superb matchwinning efforts. She puts it down to backing her preparation and skills.

“A lot of times in the past I did doubt myself, but preparation is really big for me, I need to know I’ve done the work ahead of a game. So I back the way I prepare,” Kapp said.

“But all the T20 leagues I play in around the world really help too, they give me confidence, playing with the best players in the world and on the biggest stages. It means I back my skills as well.

“And it helps as an all-rounder to be able to make up with the other skill if the one doesn’t go so well,” Kapp said.

No dissension in the ranks when it comes to how sorely missed Goosen will be in the Currie Cup final 0

Posted on September 22, 2021 by Ken

There may be some dissension in the ranks when it comes to some of Johan Goosen’s career choices, but everyone would agree that he will be sorely missed by the Bulls in the Currie Cup final against the Sharks on Saturday following his withdrawal due to testing positive for Covid.

The Springbok flyhalf was in sublime form in the Bulls’ 48-31 win over Western Province in their semi-final last weekend, looking every bit the world-class flyhalf Jake White hoped he would be and drawing comparisons with Wallabies legend Stephen Larkham from the coach.

Bulls CEO Edgar Rathbone confirmed Goosen’s misfortune on Wednesday, but if there is a silver lining it is that no other member of the squad is affected as the franchise aim to become the first team to win back-to-back Currie Cup titles since Free State won twice and shared one with the Bulls between 2005 and 2007.

That’s because the Bulls squad were given Saturday and Sunday off after Friday night’s semifinal and Goosen was down at his Eastern Cape farm. His positive test came on Monday when he arrived back at Loftus Versfeld.

Chris Smith, who played off the bench and kicked a 79th-minute penalty to level the scores in last season’s final, will now be the starting flyhalf, with young FC du Plessis expected to be on the bench.

Having a marquee player ruled out of the major domestic final due to Covid is also unfortunate at a time when rugby is desperately trying to prove how responsible they are in fighting the pandemic, with an eye on getting spectators allowed back into their stadiums.

Government held a vaccination drive launch on Wednesday with the support of SA Rugby and other sports, with Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa saying the more people get vaccinated, the sooner they can go back to watching sport live. Deputy president David Mabuza suggested 40 million people would need to be vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity.

Rathbone told The Citizen he is hopeful that rugby won’t have to wait so long.

“It’s very sad that for the second final in a row at Loftus Versfeld there won’t be any people in the stands. But we are still working on plans to get spectators back, we have submitted millions of documents on how it can be done. Even if it’s only vaccinated people that can attend, it is of the utmost importance that we get crowds back into our stadiums.

“It’s not in our hands, but I think spectators might be phased back in, starting with hospitality first because that’s the easiest to control,” Rathbone said.

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    “Attempting to serve the Lord without the strength of the Holy Spirit results in frustration and ultimate disaster.

    “If your vision of him grows dim, your service will become powerless and ineffective. This will happen if your spiritual reserves are not regularly replenished through prayer and meditation.

    “You must put him first in all your activities. Your service for him must be the result of your intimate knowledge of him. Only when he enjoys priority in all things, can you understand life from his perspective. Putting Christ first in your life and work makes you a more capable servant of God.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech

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