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Ken Borland

Sharks so lacking in elan & polish that CEO apologises 0

Posted on February 28, 2023 by Ken

The Sharks produced a display so lacking in elan and polish against Cardiff on Sunday night that CEO Eduard Coetzee took the unprecedented step of apologising for the performance at the post-match press conference.

Getting spectators to the ground on a Sunday night is a hard enough ask, but it then poured with rain at Kings Park and the Sharks dished up one of their worst performances in several years, being thrashed 35-0.

“I would like to apologise for that display to the fans who came here and sat in the rain, more than 7000 of them, and to our sponsors and stakeowners, they don’t deserve that,” Coetzee said at the start of his surprise statement to the media.

“A lot of effort has gone into this franchise and we will not just leave this there. We will turn it around and we will rectify that. That was unlike the Sharks and we will do everything possible to rectify this as soon as possible,” Coetzee said.

The CEO also praised Cardiff for their “unbelievable” display, but the magnificence of the visitors’ performance lay not so much in dazzling rugby but in simple clinical execution of the right plan for the conditions, and plenty of passion.

“They managed the game a lot better and we couldn’t do the same, so we were pinned in our 22,” Sharks director of rugby Neil Powell said. “We also made a lot of basic errors.

“If you can’t even do the basics well then you are not going to do well at this level. If you’re not going to be accurate or clinical, then you will find yourself in trouble.

“Needless to say it was a massive disappointment and just not good enough. It was an opportunity for guys to show they can play at this level, but now we will have to take a hard look from an individual perspective at players and management.

“It’s going to be hard work and it will be great if we can show the character to bounce back from this quickly,” Powell said.

Sharks comfortably see off Benetton Treviso but lack assurance 0

Posted on April 01, 2022 by Ken

The Sharks saw off Benetton Treviso comfortably enough, 24-7, in their United Rugby Championship match at the Stadio Monigo on Saturday night, but it was a performance lacking assurance and they only managed to secure the bonus point in the 79th minute after scoring three tries in the first half.

A diffident, careless second half

Having led 21-0 at halftime, and enjoying 60% of possession and territory, the Sharks were left defending for vast stretches of the second half. Benetton admittedly lifted their intensity in their second half and travel fatigue may have been a factor for the Sharks. But the Springbok-laden visitors lacked direction and fluency in the second half, flyhalf Curwin Bosch not really fulfilling his role as a general.

Am & Fassi’s attacking genius the Sharks’ inlet into the game

The Sharks, despite dominating territory and possession in the first half, battled to break down a well-organised Benetton team. It was the magic produced by outside centre Lukhanyo Am and fullback Aphelele Fassi that provided them with the key incisions.

A wonderful run by Am that saw him knife through a maze of defenders ended with midfield partner Marius Louw stopped just short of the line. But from a five-metre scrum, lock Ruben van Heerden then scored.

The Sharks’ second try, in the 26th minute, came thanks to Fassi showing superb feet down the left touchline when he did not have much space to work with.

The Sharks’ bonus point try, with just a minute left in the match, was again provided by Am with his long pass out wide to Sbu Nkosi finding the powerful wing outside his man.

More refereeing bad luck

South Africans do tend to blame refereeing for most things going wrong on a rugby field. But our complaints about inconsistent officiating certainly seem justified given the range of baffling decisions being experienced in Europe.

While referee Andrew Brace was excellent overall, he denied the Sharks what became a crucial try in the third quarter, ruling there was separation between the hand and the ball when prop Ox Nche dotted down after great charges by him and fellow front-rower Thomas du Toit. Replay after replay failed to show what the referee had seemingly seen and talked his TMO into accepting.

It was a momentum-shifting call as Benetton then piled on the pressure, leading to Am being yellow-carded and the home side’s only try, scored by lock Carl Wegner from close range.

Credit to Benetton

The Italians have lost most of their side to their national squad and were fielding several academy players and even some drawn from other clubs. Their scrum was particularly hard hit, but put in a gutsy performance, only conceding a couple of penalties. Against such a star-studded team, their hearts were definitely in the contest and Benetton Treviso deserve credit for making the Sharks look ordinary for long stretches.


Benetton Treviso: Try – Carl Wegner. Conversion – Tomas Albornoz.

Sharks: Tries – Ruben van Heerden, Aphelele Fassi, Phepsi Buthelezi, Sbu Nkosi. Conversions – Curwin Bosch (3). Penalty – Bosch.

Sascoc intervention a massive irony … but it may introduce top-class people 0

Posted on September 15, 2020 by Ken

There is a massive irony in a body such as Sascoc, wracked by internal strife and lacking credibility, making an intervention in the affairs of Cricket South Africa, a federation that seems to daily provide a new definition of rock-bottom.

But one can only hope this is a rocket (a spark would have little effect on the thick-skinned people sitting on the CSA Board) that leads to a real shift in the mindsets of those arrogant directors that refuse to budge a centimetre from a place at the top table of a sport they have parasitized rather than served.

If Sascoc threatening to take over does not force the CSA Board into standing down and releasing the Fundudzi Forensic Report, then the next option has to be for them to be threatened with being declared delinquent directors. There have been a litany of governance disasters at CSA over the last couple of years and there is no way they can continue to deny their own involvement and culpability.

There is no doubt people like former CEO Thabang Moroe and company secretary Welsh Gwaza have been involved in malfeasance, but who appointed and enabled these self-serving charlatans? The directors did and they have failed in their fiduciary duties, which have a clear legal basis.

The Members Council and the CSA Board of Directors are meeting together in Johannesburg over the weekend and, as one delegate put it, this is “make-or-break” time for the organisation. Will selfish, individualistic priorities prevail and continue the death spiral into chaos and oblivion? Or will there finally be some leadership and accountability shown?

Either way, Sascoc are going to impose a task team inquiring into CSA’s affairs, which is no bad thing. But if leadership and accountability win the day then there are enough top-class people who love cricket who will be able to step into the leadership vacuum and help CSA back to stability.

One of those is Judith February, a lawyer based at the Institute for Security Studies, the former head of IDASA’s governance programme, a Visiting Fellow at the Wits School of Governance, a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and a massive cricket fan.

“You cannot be on a board and not take responsibility, resigning just before the AGM is too little, too late because they have presided over matters to that point. Directors have left in silence or written letters, but it was because they did not flex their muscles that Thabang Moroe was allowed to operate in that way. CSA’s Memorandum of Incorporation is very clear and they have breached it on every front.

“We can join the dots intelligently and see that there is something deeply wrong with the system and the people who manage it and the people who oversee them. A clean break is the best option and clearly we need to interrogate why someone of such integrity and capability as Jacques Faul could find no space to work in CSA. The players’ statement about the boardroom shenanigans was also really important,” February said this week in a Daily Maverick webinar discussing cricket in South Africa’s fight for survival.

Does February, a governance specialist and former executive director of the HSRC’s Democracy and Governance unit, not just sound like the perfect candidate to be an independent director on a new-look CSA Board?

There are also some brilliant, impressive people on the Members Council – one thinks of Ben Dladla, Craig Nel, Anne Vilas and Tebogo Siko – who are dong their best to restore the credibility of CSA, but their efforts are being stymied by the presence of seven directors of the Board in the 14-strong Members Council itself.

The Nicholson Inquiry, which the CSA Board have now committed to return to eight years after its release, called for change in how the Board was constituted, recommending nine of the 12 directors be independents.

But in 2013 it was the selfsame Sascoc who refused to accept that and pressured CSA (although it probably suited their Board back then too) into going with a 7-5 split in favour of non-independents. And that’s a major reason why CSA are in the mess they are in now.

Directors without the competence, skills or experience to run a billion-and business have been voted in to ensure certain powerful figures enjoy support and can dispense patronage in return. In some cases, these directors have been earning twice as much from Board fees as from their ‘main’ source of income; no wonder they are desperate to keep their noses in the CSA trough.

In the coming weeks, Sascoc have a vital role to play in supporting the efforts of those who want to change this system and put cricket back in the control of people who firstly love and serve the game, and secondly have the expertise to run it properly.

Bulls win but without bling 0

Posted on April 20, 2016 by Ken


The Vodacom Bulls sauntered to a 41-22 victory over the Reds in their SuperRugby match at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday night, but it was a win that was lacking bling and did not earn a bonus point for the home side.

The Reds came roaring out of the blocks as they turned over the first Bulls scrum and a superb backline move in which Eto Nabuli came off his wing, fullback Karmichael Hunt did great work and then Chris Feauai-Sautia went streaking down the right wing, led to the first try in the fifth minute.

But the Reds found their way blocked for most of the rest of the game as the Bulls settled in the scrum, dominated the lineouts and simply put up a blue wall that the opposition could not get through. Given such a forward platform, the backs had plenty of ball to play with and, although they produced some lovely touches, the finishing was often dire due to poor passing, over-running the ball, not passing when they should have, not taking the gap when it was on or lacking vision.

The tone was set in the 16th minute when flyhalf Francois Brummer, who was excellent kicking for the poles, burst through on a good pass from the skilful loosehead prop Trevor Nyakane, but, after an interchange of passes with scrumhalf Rudy Paige, he then dropped the ball with the tryline beckoning.

The Bulls did manage to get on the board in the 20th minute when the Reds were penalised for playing the man in the air at the lineout, with Brummer slotting the kick.

The first Bulls try came in the 32nd minute after the scrum had earned a penalty. From the lineout, outside centre Jesse Kriel stepped his way through the gap and, from a ruck under the poles, tighthead prop Marcel van der Merwe picked up the ball and burrowed over the line.

Young locks Jason Jenkins and RG Snyman are forming a formidable partnership for the Bulls and they played impressive roles as the Bulls swept back on to the attack from the kickoff and, after a series of strong drives from the forwards, Jenkins being stopped just short of the line, hooker Adriaan Strauss picked the ball up out of the ruck and dived over to score his team’s second try.

As the halftime hooter went, with the Reds stuck on five points for 35 minutes, flank Liam Gill casually slotted a 30-metre drop goal to end the first half on a rather outrageous note.

Jenkins was again to the fore in the 46th minute as he and Strauss caught the Reds in possession with great defence, leading to an offsides penalty, converted by the reliable Brummer (20-8).

But the main interest, given how firmly in control they looked, was whether the Bulls backline could click.

The initial signs were highly promising as, from a lineout, centre Jan Serfontein’s deft chip over the defence was gathered by his midfield partner Kriel, who produced a lovely offload inside for Brummer, who quickly sent flank Lappies Labuschagne racing away for the line.

The Reds looked down and out at 27-8 down, but they began to get some possession in the right areas thanks to some great touchfinders by Jake McIntyre and Hunt. The Reds managed to take a lineout off the Bulls in the 53rd minute, which was the only throw the home side lost, spreading the ball wide to outside centre Samu Kerevi, who cut back inside on a powerful run which took him straight over the tryline.

McIntyre converted and the Reds trailed 15-27, which became 22-27 just six minutes later as Kerevi scored again, taking the direct route to the tryline after the wonderful hands of midfield partner Anthony Fainga’a had put him away.

But Travis Ismaiel, who drifted outside his marker Hunt, and raced away down the right wing after fullback SP Marais had found him with a long pass, ensured that the Bulls would have some breathing space heading into the closing stages as his try gave them a 34-22 lead after Brummer’s conversion.

The Bulls would have the final say as replacement scrumhalf Piet van Zyl, who has been getting decent game time as Paige has not been at his best, was able to dive over for a try to round off concerted pressure by the home side.

The Bulls’ attacking intent has been slowly evolving and there was plenty of endeavour at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night, but the execution was often lacking.

But coach Nollis Marais has identified some young talents that undoubtedly have bright futures. Snyman and Jenkins are building an outstanding second row partnership, while Jannes Kirsten has been phenomenally consistent as a tough-as-nails flank.

Despite the disappointment of missing out on the bonus point, the Bulls are still level-pegging with the Stormers and Lions, and are looking good for at least a conference wildcard given how the Sharks are currently struggling.


Vodacom BullsTries: Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss, Lappies Labuschagne, Travis Ismaiel, Piet van Zyl.Conversions: Francois Brummer (5). Penalties: Brummer (2).

RedsTries: Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi (2). Conversions: Jake McIntyre (2). Drop goal: Liam Gill.

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