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Ken Borland



International team have a mountain to climb after defections for countless millions of LIV rands 0

Posted on November 02, 2022 by Ken

The golfing world’s attention this week will be focused on the Presidents Cup, which gets underway at Quail Hollow in North Carolina on Thursday, with the International team, under the captaincy of South African Trevor Immelman, left with a mountain to climb against the United States.

America have won the last eight editions of the Presidents Cup and if that weight of history were not enough, the International team has been hard-hit by defections to LIV Golf.

While American players such as Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka have also joined the breakaway league, the United States still boast five players in the top-10 of the world golf rankings in their team.

The riches on offer in LIV Golf translate into an awfully large amount of Rand, so Immelman is right when he says the players he does have will all be very hungry to win, given that they have shown that their loyalties do not necessarily lie with money.

The Americans have won 11 of the 13 Presidents Cup tournaments, so the event desperately needs to avoid becoming an insipid one-horse race. There were signs of revival in the Presidents Cup for the International team in 2019 at Royal Melbourne under another South African captain, Ernie Els, and Immelman has made it clear he intends to build on what his compatriot put in place.

United States captain Davis Love will have to deal with his team being massive favourites, and can call on seven members of the squad that hammered Europe 19-9 in the last Ryder Cup.

It is, however, the youngest ever U.S. team to play in the Presidents Cup.

Immelman will field a record five Asian players in his line-up, with Christiaan Bezuidenhout the only South African as LIV golfers Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace are not eligible.

Australia’s Adam Scott and former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama are the two senior International players who have considerable Presidents Cup experience.

But there are eight rookies in all in the Presidents Cup line-up.

Bulls have another mountain before them in Connacht … & no cable car 0

Posted on October 26, 2021 by Ken

The Bulls will have another mountain to climb in adapting to European rugby on Friday night as they take on Connacht at The Sportsground in Galway, but there is no cable car to quickly take you to the top of the peak when it comes to the experience they will require to be contenders in the United Rugby Championship.

On Thursday, the Bulls were warned by one of the local journalists on the virtual press conference that “all we can offer you is wind and rain” and coach Jake White likened the importance of the conditions to a cricket match when winning the toss is vital.

“It’s going to be tough conditions with rain and wind. I know Connacht from being there before, it’s a very open field, a bit like UCT. You can struggle into the wind and when you’re with the wind you have to take advantage.

The conditions are a great leveler and you need experience to handle that properly. It’s like a cricket match when batting or bowling first becomes very important.

“Connacht train to play their game in that weather every day and it’s another opportunity for our young group to see what it’s like to play against a very adaptable side who know what their strengths are. If they graduate to Test rugby then every game is always different, like it is in the URC.

“It’s like a golfer who only trains in the sunshine and then he has to tee it up at St Andrew’s. You’ve got to learn how to adapt and you just have to go through the lessons,” White said.

While White wants the Bulls’ game-plan to be based 50/50 around both forwards and backs, he knows Friday night’s match is likely to become a forward-dominated kicking battle. Which is one of the main reasons he has chosen Ruan Combrinck, who can kick off either foot, as starting fullback for the first time.

“I don’t think there’s going to be too much attack and Ruan is good under the high ball and a Springbok. His kicking game gives us left and right-footed options at the back and I think this will be the game that suits him most, it’s going to be all about kicking and territory.

“He has also not had much game-time since joining us so we wanted to look at him, and we need to find another back-up option to David Kriel at fullback. If it’s a rainy and windy evening, it’s not always easy to display those backline skills,” White said.

Bulls team: Ruan Combrinck, Cornal Hendricks, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Stravino Jacobs, Johan Goosen, Zak Burger; Elrigh Louw, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee (CAPT, ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Ruan Nortje, Walt Steenkamp, Lizo Gqoboka, Joe van Zyl, Jacques van Rooyen. Bench – Bismarck du Plessis, Simphiwe Matanzima, Mornay Smith, Janko Swanepoel, Jacques du Plessis, Embrose Papier, Chris Smith, Stedman Gans.

Former defence coach John McFarland’s six solutions for the Springboks 0

Posted on September 22, 2016 by Ken

 

It was very hard to watch the Springboks v All Blacks game last weekend because there were a mountain of mistakes. You could see the players were really trying, but very often that’s not good enough against a quality side like New Zealand.

There were many system and individual errors within the Springbok defence, but the good news is that they can all be fixed, they can be corrected through good coaching. So I would prefer to talk about solutions rather than showing what went wrong.

Because I was in charge of the Springboks’ defence and kicking game for four years, I obviously know the pressure the coaching staff feel and have experienced this many times myself in my coaching career. You don’t coach for 21 years at a professional level without experiencing setbacks, so you must know how to fix them, plus the players pick up on your body language, passion and intensity.

Since I left the Springboks, I’ve been lucky enough to be working in Japan at the Kubota Spears. The Springboks defence was taken over by Jacques Nienaber, who was obviously being lined up for the full-time job.

He coached the defence in the Ireland Tests as a consultant for five weeks. Chean Roux worked hand-in-hand with him at the MobiUnit and was then earmarked to carry on his structures and principles as seamlessly as possible.

As a coach in this situation, you can’t just point the finger at the players. It’s important to have solutions and you need to look at yourself as well, take responsibility for the performance and fix it. Heyneke Meyer and Frans Ludeke always knew that I would take responsibility for the defensive performance, win or lose.

It’s very easy to point out what went wrong against the All Blacks, but it’s far more important to identify solutions. So here are six simple things that the Springboks can fix.

 

  • The passive defence system. Over a period of time it has come through that line integrity is the key. But at the moment the Springboks are not coming off the line and pressurising the attacking team, or if they are, it’s in single fashion, for example Juan de Jongh trying to cut off the outside options.
    Experience has shown that all this does against the All Blacks is pressure our own inside defence. They are very good at running reverse-lines at the shooting defender.
    A 75% tackle success rate at Test level shows that this system is not working. Too many good defenders are making errors and missing tackles because we are allowing the attack to dictate to the defence.
    On the Sam Whitelock try, it came from width and the spacing of the defensive line was really poor – there were only three defenders covering 30 metres of space, they were far too tight to the ruck, which pulled the wings in.
    If you have a passive defence, like the Springboks had, then it highlights if anyone breaks the system. With a passive defence, the whole object is to push the attackers towards the touchline, so it’s never a good idea if everyone is drifting and one player comes in on a read.

 

  • Winning the gain-line. I don’t think the Springbok backline once won the gain-line off first-phase ball, especially off the lineout. We call it ‘winning the race’ – if the defender can hit the ball-carrier behind the gain-line, it’s so much easier to set your defensive pillars in place. But if you allow the opposition to get easy yards over the gain-line as we did at the weekend, then it’s very difficult to get your pillars in place. The attack just rolls forward, gaining momentum … and confidence and belief.
    It’s quite simple: You have to close the space from the set-piece a lot quicker. You have to close the space (press) on the first receiver when he has the ball.

 

  • Blindside defence. As alluded to in earlier columns, this was the same part of our defence that was exploited by Australia from the lineout and from a scrum, and was mercilessly exploited by New Zealand on Saturday. The key is that the hooker and blindside wing have to communicate the reversing of play and the players have to look up before folding to the openside. The Springboks’ blindside defence has to be much, much better than it was against the All Blacks.

 

  • Scrumhalf channel off scrum. New Zealand also ran at this channel and since 2014 they’ve been doing the same thing against us. So as a defence coach that would have been my first port of call – making sure that the defence of the scrumhalf channel was really strong in Christchurch.
    But Aaron Smith punched through that channel so the scrumhalf and the flank have to work together. The first defender has to adjust and basically they have to play flat after that.
    The scrumhalf must defend the ball – after all nobody has ever scored a try without the ball!

 

  • High balls. Every All Blacks high ball went on Francois Hougaard, so that was obviously seen as a mismatch for Israel Dagg to exploit. To be fair, Francois dealt with it well, but the Springboks need to be able to play from the retreating ruck post-kick.

 

  • Kicking game. The kicking game is really quite simple and I believe we over-complicate it to a large degree. The key is that a kick is only as good as its chase, so the work-rate has to be much higher. If the kick is long, then the harder the chase, the easier it is to catch the opposition further back, to separate the counter-attacking wing and fullback from their cleaners/forwards. So the chase has to be a heck of a lot better and more aggressive from the Springboks.
    Tactically, the Springboks should be in a strong position because they have right-footed and left-footed options at flyhalf and fullback, because all they have to do then is get into the middle of the field and the right-footer [Johan Goosen] can go on the right side of the ruck and the left-footer [Elton Jantjies] takes the left. That will create indecision in the opposition back three as to who will exit. It will also affect the All Blacks’ pressure plan because the key guys trying to charge down the kick are always Aaron Smith or TJ Perenara and Brodie Retallick – it will be more difficult for them to pick up who is going to kick.
    Because the Boks have such a good mauling game, the box-kick from 9 is vitally important and needs to have an organised chase and contest, so they need to select wings that go up in the air.

 

These are the solutions to the defensive problems which I know I would be asking questions about if I were in the same situation as Chean Roux.

Just on Malcolm Marx and his alleged throwing woes, I think the criticism is incredibly unfair. People just look at the stats and not at what actually went on. It’s easy to say we lost four lineouts and blame the hooker, but if you look through all our games against New Zealand over the last four years, we’ve always lost four or five lineouts against them in the second half, because at halftime, whatever they talk about, they come out differently in the second half.

The World Cup semifinal last year against the All Blacks was decided because we lost five set-pieces around the halfway line. So to come out firing against a young hooker in his first Test is really not fair.

And I’ve looked at his throws – the first one was not straight, that was obvious and an error on his part because his alignment and set-up were wrong. But the two other lost throws were directly because of poor lifts by the back supporter, he was late.

And then at the lineout on the line, the triggers were not right as to when the hooker should throw in. At the top level, the hooker always has a trigger telling him when to throw, it tells him when to begin the throw. It comes from the jumper and it’s important to get it right.

The positive is that in rugby you always get another chance and I really think the Springboks will be so much better at home, they always do play better back here.

I really hope the Springboks and their coaching staff will bounce back well against Australia. I’m sure they will because there is too much hurt and as a group they know their responsibility is to give the country hope. I believe they will do that in these two home Tests.

Allister Coetzee is also a highly-experienced coach who everyone seems to forget won the World Cup in 2007. He’s been in these situations many times and he will know how to get out of it. We just need to give him and the Springboks our backing and support.

 

John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012-15, having won three SuperRugby titles (2007, 09, 10) with the Bulls and five Currie Cup crowns with the Blue Bulls. In all, he won 28 trophies during his 12 years at Loftus Versfeld.

Look to the hills of the Eastern Cape for talent 0

Posted on December 16, 2014 by Ken

Mfuneko Ngam points to the north-east and says “Vuyisa comes from that mountain over there”, referring to Vuyisa Makhaphela, the Warriors opening batsman and his home village in the foothills of the Amatole Mountains in Alice.

We were standing alongside the main cricket field of the University of Fort Hare rural academy that Ngam runs in the heartland of Black African cricket, shortly after Cricket South Africa and Momentum announced that they are going to invest significantly in the joint venture programme that is undoubtedly going to produce successors to the likes of international fast bowlers Ngam and Makhaya Ntini, both of whom come from the same area.

Earlier, Raymond Booi, the Border Cricket Board’s high performance coach, had pointed out Mdingi village, lower down in the foothills, where Ntini and more recently Aya Gqamane (who, according to CSA development consultant Greg Hayes “never missed the ball with his plank as a little youngster”) come from.

Thando Mnyaka and Somila Seyibokwe are also members of the Warriors squad who hail from the same area and have all come through the Fort Hare academy.

“Vuyisa gave up cricket, he wanted nothing to do with it. But I managed to convince him to come and register at our MSC Business College and for the last two years he has been with the Warriors,” Ngam says.
The educational aspect is a key component of the program, because not everybody is going to make it in top-class cricket, as Ngam stresses.
“We are trying to build holistic cricketers, they must study and play. When we first started, nobody wanted to study but these kids need to understand that they need something to fall back on. That also takes the pressure off them when it comes to playing cricket.”
As a company, Momentum have placed a special emphasis on education leading to financial wellness, and Danie van den Bergh, the head of brand, said the academy is a perfect fit.
“They’ve built a dream here, we love it and we have bought into it. It’s a common thread in Africa that education is a key to success and if we can link sport to education then we can leave a legacy long after our six years with Cricket South Africa are over. It’s about long-term values and spreading the love of the game to everybody,” Van den Bergh said.
Amongst the improvements recently completed at the academy are a residence for the 15 cricketers per year that are in the programme, indoor and outdoor nets, a pristine outfield, large sightscreens and an electronic scoreboard.
If this initiative could be repeated in all the provinces, imagine the talent that could be unearthed and, as CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat pointed out, the rural areas have also produced legends such as Dale Steyn and Lance Klusener.
But the one characteristic that most rural areas in this country share is that they are poor and the Eastern Cape is particularly hard up, judging by the condition of some of the roads and abandoned factories. But nevertheless they are rightfully proud of their history and what they have produced, including numerous great leaders starting with Madiba and Oliver Tambo.
“The University of Fort Hare has a rich history and people know about it without knowing where Alice is! A former ICC head, Ray Mali, comes from here, as do two former ministers of sport, Ngconde Balfour and Makhenkosi Stofile. There are also famous schools like Lovedale and Healdtown here.

“It’s a tower of knowledge but people in the Eastern Cape are so poor that they don’t benefit. But they’ve built a beautiful facility here where African cricket was first played,” Border president Thando Ganda said.

“We’re very humbled that CSA are using Fort Hare as a venue. We’re often second-best in Border but an academy like this, with its unified approach, is something different and we’re sure cricketers from here will now come out on top,” Noel Knicklebein, the university’s deputy registrar said.

The likes of Queen’s, Dale, Selborne and Hudson Park have a close relationship with the academy and boys placed in those schools have regularly made provincial teams. Two girls from the programme have gone on to represent the Proteas Women and eight other students have successfully completed their varsity degrees.

The hills of the Eastern Cape have once again started to provide memorable talent.

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    Mark 7:8 – “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”

    Our foundation must be absolute surrender, devotion and obedience to God, rising from pure love for him. Jesus Christ must be central in all things and his will must take precedence over the will of people, regardless of how well-meaning they may be.

    Surrender yourself unconditionally to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then you will be able to identify what is of man with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Then you will be able to serve – in love! – according to God’s will.



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