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Ken Borland

Kolisi ditching his 5yr Sharks contract is all kosher – Eduard 0

Posted on October 13, 2023 by Ken

Current captain Siya Kolisi will be leaving the Sharks at the end of the season, even though he signed a five-year contract renewal last May, to join Racing 92 in France, and it’s all kosher according to the local franchise’s CEO Eduard Coetzee.

Kolisi’s three-year deal with Racing, a Parisian club, was announced on Tuesday and, while it will no doubt shock Sharks fans and cause consternation in terms of those wondering what happens to the Springbok captaincy after the World Cup, Coetzee said he was leaving Kings Park early with their full blessing.

“Siya’s move to France is a new and exciting opportunity and we could not be happier for him. We are blessed to have him don the black-and-white jersey and we know that over the next few months, he will continue to give back to the team and our fans,” Coetzee said in a Sharks statement, which also said the move was “part of a broader long-term collaboration between the Sharks and Racing 92, with the two clubs having come to an amicable agreement, while they also look forward to continuing to build a mutually-beneficial relationship in the future.”

Kolisi expressed his gratitude to the Sharks for their willingness to part with their most iconic player.

“It has been an incredible collaborative effort between the Sharks and Racing 92 that has enabled me to start a new chapter in my career after the 2023 World Cup.

“I want to give a massive thanks to the Sharks for welcoming me with open arms in 2021, and for making me feel so at home in Durban, while their support over the last couple of years has been hugely influential during a key period in my career.

“I am immensely appreciative that the Sharks have given me their blessing to make this move, and it goes without saying that I will continue to give my all for the team over the next few months,” Kolisi said.

“The signing of Siya Kolisi reinforces the ambitions of Racing 92 and will offer our supporters a high-level of performance,” said Jack Lorenzetti, the owner of Racing.

“His winning ambition and natural leadership makes him a great player, but he’s also a deep humanist. He will bring additional positive energy to Racing 92.”

The 31-year-old’s departure to France, for what is probably hundreds of thousands of euro a year, certainly spices up the debate about how the Springboks should approach the post-2023 World Cup era.

Kolisi will only be 32 at the end of this year’s World Cup, and 36 at the 2027 event in Australia, which he will presumably still be available for given that his Sharks contract was going to run until then.

Whoever is in charge of the Springboks at the end of this year may want to keep Kolisi as captain, perhaps with a handover period to his successor.

Down to serious business now for the Proteas 0

Posted on May 02, 2023 by Ken

The Proteas effectively acclimatised to local conditions in their warm-up match against the Cricket Australia XI in Brisbane, and now it is down to the serious business of completing preparations for the first Test against Australia, starting at the Gabba in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Test series against Australia are always intense and among the most demanding examinations South African cricketers face. And it is seldom just a test of batting or bowling skills, the Australians pride themselves on playing mental games and there is as much off-field pressure as there is in the middle. It was Australia who lost the plot though in the last Test series between these two great rivals, the Sandpapergate affair marring the 2018 rubber in South Africa.

With so much to deal with on and off the field, no Protea will want to go into the series with any question marks over their preparation. Which is why it was most heartening to see captain Dean Elgar lead from the front with a century in the warm-up match, and Kyle Verreynne, Rassie van der Dussen and Theunis de Bruyn get good scores with the bat, while Temba Bavuma spent extended, much-needed time at the crease. With the ball, Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada looked particularly sharp.

Meanwhile, the West Indians have provided poor preparation for the Australians, being hammered by 164 and 419 runs in the two Tests.

The South African attack will provide a much bigger test for the greedy Aussie batsmen, while the Proteas batsmen will certainly show more fight.

Scoring first-innings totals of 598 for four declared and 511 for seven declared will certainly have provided much confidence though for the home batsmen, led by South African-born Marnus Labuschagne, who had scores of 204, 104 not out, 163 and 31 in the series.

Steven Smith, who stood in as captain for the injured Pat Cummins in the second Test, made an unbeaten double-hundred in the first game, while Travis Head had scores of 99 and 175.

For the cricket aficionado, Australia versus South Africa is always a mouthwatering prospect. Stand by for those all-nighters over the next three weeks.

Blair Atholl the longest course in Euro Tour history & a ‘Driver-fest’ according to Frittelli 0

Posted on March 08, 2023 by Ken

The Blair Atholl Golf and Country Estate course will play at 7462 metres for the South African Open starting on Thursday, the longest in DP World Tour history, and it will be a “Driver-fest” according to leading local contender Dylan Frittelli.

The 32-year-old Frittelli is one of a host of South Africans who generally compete abroad who have returned for the national open, the second oldest in the game, and still considered a hugely prestigious title.

Frittelli, who competes on the PGA Tour, is known as a solid and lengthy driver of the ball, so he was looking forward to tackling Blair Atholl for the first time.

“It’s what I expected – a long course with wide fairways,” Frittelli said after his pro-am round on Wednesday. “It will be a Driver-fest and I’m just going to try and hit the ball as long and as straight as I can.

“It’s a cliche but that and making some putts, on greens that have a lot more character than I was expecting, literally defines this course.

“I think we will be hitting a lot more shots from 140-190 metres on the par-fours, but if it stays dry and hot then we’ll still be hitting the ball 340 off the tee.

“So I think it’s going to be a good mix and I would urge the organisers not to push the tees forward. We don’t want 23-under winning the SA Open. And I’ve got to win the SA Open before my career is over,” Frittelli said.

Charl Schwartzel is another who is extremely determined to win the SA Open for the first time after some near misses, and he used to live on the Blair Atholl Estate, so he knows the course intimately. He and other returning South Africans like Branden Grace, George Coetzee, Thriston Lawrence and Shaun Norris are always a threat in these co-sanctioned events.

Defending champion Danie van Tonder looked in good form in last week’s Joburg Open but his putter just refused to play along, but a new host course for the SA Open could well throw up a new champion.

Dean Burmester seems to always be contending somewhere in the world these days and he is back, hungry and equipped with one of the biggest drives in the field.

“Blair Atholl is loooong, that was my first impression,” Burmester said. “There will be some positional stuff required and it lends itself to good mid and long iron play, but a lot of it is going to come down to long-hitting.

“The bunkers are often 300-310 metres from the tee and you need to be able to cover that in your game or it’s going to be a long week for you. If you’re short of that, then you better pack your fairway woods and metal hybrids.”

Wilco Nienaber is always up there with the longest drivers on tour and was in contention at the Joburg Open, but Louis de Jager is perhaps the dark horse to watch. He is a quality driver of the ball and his fifth place in the Joburg Open was his fourth top-10 finish since August.

Rugby as dangerous as a behind-schedule minibus taxi 0

Posted on December 14, 2022 by Ken

Judging by some safety studies coming out of the UK, playing rugby is seemingly as dangerous as being a passenger in a minibus taxi that is behind schedule after the driver popped into the local shebeen.

There is no denying the alarming figures these studies are revealing in terms of brain injuries since the game went professional, and WorldRugby has been forced into making changes to the law in order to avoid the sort of lawsuits that have cost American Football hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements.

The most obvious of these changes has been the zero-tolerance approach to contact to the head. Unfortunately, in a contact game such as rugby and the highly-fluid tackle zone that features hundreds of kilograms of bone and flesh crashing into, or trying to avoid, each other, accidents are inevitable.

As former Springbok captain John Smit said this week: “You’re never going to make a contact sport 100% safe, there will always be an element of rIsk. And I have never met anyone who was forced to play rugby. I picked up the ball and ran into three guys out of my free will and I understood the risks.

“My shoulder is a mess now, I can’t turn my neck because of the spinal fusion I’ve had, but I’ve had more injuries from cycling! If I was given the choice now, I would still pick up the rugby ball like I did 30 years ago,” Smit said.

An unwanted side-effect of the law changes is that it has made it very taxing to watch rugby these days.

The constant TMO interventions, looking for the slightest head contact, coupled with the rank amateur standard of officiating we see far too often lately, leaves spectators and viewers angry, frustrated and often just plain bored.

I’m not arguing that TMOs should be done away with, they still have a vital role to play in ensuring crucial decisions are made correctly and in stamping out foul play, but their emphasis needs to shift.

So much time was wasted last weekend replaying a totally accidental head-to-head contact involving Bulls flyhalf Johan Goosen, which could easily have been a red card, ruining the game, given how some officials interpret these things.

But when there is obvious dangerous play, sometimes officialdom seems too lenient in dealing with it. Bundee Aki’s cleanout of Seabelo Senatla was clearly dangerous, putting the Stormers wing out of action for months. The Connacht centre has been given an eight-game ban, which seems about right. But it was only that much because of his previous record and the fact he angrily remonstrated with the referee after he was red-carded. The injury to the referee’s pride was obviously much more serious than Senatla’s in the view of the disciplinary tribunal.

And then there’s Darcy Swain, the Wallabies lock, who was only banned for six weeks for the assault on All Blacks centre Quinn Tupaea at a ruck, which must rank as one of the filthiest acts I’ve ever seen on a rugby field. Swain deliberately targeted the trapped leg of Tupaea, twisting it and destroying the New Zealander’s knee ligaments.

Tupaea will be out of action for nine months and is likely to miss the World Cup next year.

It is frustrating enough that there are so many stoppages in a game of rugby these days, with what is meant to be a 40-minute half almost always actually taking closer to an hour to finish, but then the officials so often get the decisions wrong anyway. Now there are also official water breaks scattered through the contest.

Fans are definitely losing interest.

The match between the Bulls and Connacht last weekend at Loftus Versfeld became exciting, on the scoreboard at least, in the second half. But in the main grandstand below the media centre, spectators passed their time cheering and encouraging a trio of spectators who were building a beer snake out of empty cups, making it tall enough to reach the tier above them.

Apparently it was a similar story the weekend before in the Springboks’ crucial Test against Argentina at Kings Park – spectators spent much of the time building paper planes and throwing them around.

Yes, WorldRugby needs to pass laws that make the game safer, but they also need to ensure their product is watchable.

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