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Ken Borland

Proteas have been swearing blind they will give their all … & they did in the field 0

Posted on December 03, 2021 by Ken

The Proteas have been swearing blind that they will give their all in the T20 World Cup and they certainly did in the field after their batting failed, but it was still not enough to deny Australia victory in the opening match in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Having posted just 118 for nine with the bat, South Africa made Australia sweat as they reached their target with five wickets down and only two balls remaining.

Anrich Nortje, save for a short penultimate delivery that Marcus Stoinis swatted away for a crucial boundary in the 19th over, was outstanding as he took two for 21 in his four overs.

The four other South African bowlers all backed him superbly, but Marcus Stoinis (24* off 16) and Matthew Wade (15* off 10) added 40 off 29 deliveries to see Australia home and fend off a wobble when they lost two wickets for one run in the 15th and 16th overs.

Steven Smith top-scored for Australia with 35 off 34 balls before he fell to a wonderful running boundary catch by Aiden Markram off Nortje.

South Africa were sent in to bat and Temba Bavuma made a great start by driving Mitchell Starc through the covers for two boundaries in the first over.

But Bavuma then hung back in his crease to off-spinner Glenn Maxwell in the second over and was bowled for 12 and Josh Hazlewood (4-1-19-2) then struck two major blows by having Rassie van der Dussen caught behind with his first ball and then bowling Quinton de Kock in his next over.

De Kock made just seven and tried to paddle the paceman fine, but edged the ball on to his thigh pad and then it bounced on to his stumps, with the batsman unaware where it was and unable to knock it away.

From 23 for three, the Proteas were indebted to Markram for his 40 off 36 balls, putting away boundary chances with ease, that gave them an almost defendable total.

Heinrich Klaasen (13) and David Miller (16) hung around for a bit, and Kagiso Rabada landed a couple of good blows at the death in his 19 not out.

But with Pat Cummins (4-0-17-1) and leg-spinner Adam Zampa (4-0-21-2) both excelling, there was no let-up in the pressure on the Proteas.

One of the country’s most-liked coaches gets the chop 0

Posted on May 04, 2020 by Ken

Pote Human is one of the most well-liked coaches in the country but it was not enough to save him from the changes sweeping through Loftus Versfeld in the wake of former Springbok coach Jake White’s appointment at the helm of Bulls rugby.

White had already made it clear that even though his designation is director of rugby, he sees himself having a very hands-on, on-field coaching role. That means there is no room for Human when it comes to guiding the SuperRugby side and the Blue Bulls Company announced on Friday that there would be an amicable parting of the ways.

Human joins a raft of changes at Loftus Versfeld, with chief executive Alfonso Meyer also standing down at the end of the month and 17 players reportedly set to get the chop, including captain Burger Odendaal and Springboks Cornal Hendricks and Juandre Kruger.

“The Blue Bulls Company would like to confirm that it has come to a mutual agreement with Super Rugby head coach Pote Human regarding the early termination of his current contract, which was due to end in October 2020. The BBCo were open and transparent in informing Human that the contract would not be extended. Given the current situation, with no rugby expected to be played in the near future, both parties mutually agreed on exiting with immediate effect, thus also allowing Human extra time with his future planning,” the union said in their statement on Friday.

And just to prove what a nice guy he is, Human expressed his gratitude to the Bulls and went on to call for all involved with the Bulls to support White.

“My time at Loftus has been amazing to say the least. It has been an emotional rollercoaster, with many highs and lows. But through it all I have made friendships and memories that I will treasure forever. I have dedicated my life to this beautiful game and trust me there is no better place to do that than at Loftus Versfeld.

“I would sincerely like to thank the BBCo for giving me the opportunity to live my dreams and for affording me the privilege to work with some truly amazing people. I’d like to wish them every success going forward and it is important for Jake to get the backing and support from all stakeholders. He certainly has my support and I wish him all of the best,” Human said.

History will record that Human did not win any trophies with the Bulls, making the SuperRugby playoffs last year and the Currie Cup semi-finals in 2018, but his coaching prowess should obviously be measured by the resources at his disposal, especially a glaring lack of playing quality due to the extremely poor recruitment that took place at Loftus Versfeld before his stint as head coach.

Meyer praised the influence Human has had on the lives of both players and staff.

“Pote is known as more than a coach at Loftus and has influenced the lives and careers of players and staff alike. He is a nurturer and a mentor, and has made a lasting impact on many great players. Pote is an absolute gentleman of the game and has been an asset to the Bulls Family. However, it is time for us to part ways, and we wish him everything of the best with his journey ahead,” Meyer said.

The John McFarland Column – Not enough emphasis on defence 0

Posted on May 09, 2017 by Ken


To see so many tries scored against the South African teams in SuperRugby last weekend – 26 in all – was disappointing and it’s not great when your top franchises are conceding so many tries in particular, but the problem is that there has just not been enough emphasis on defence.

Look at the value SA Rugby put on defence after Jacques Nienaber left halfway through 2016: they appointed Chean Roux in his position and he will freely admit that he was an absolute rookie defence coach at that stage. What does that say about how they rate defence and defence coaches?

We’ve now had the national indaba and the Springboks are on to their fourth defence coach under Allister Coetzee, but I’m sure Brendan Venter will do a really good job because he has the experience and the skills, and was the architect of the Saracens defensive system that has taken them to the European Champions Cup final.

But there was no national defence coach when the indaba was convened, so I wonder if there was input on defence at that gathering? After conceding a record score against New Zealand, defence was an obvious area that needed fixing.

It’s not Allister’s fault of course because he was handed his staff; now he has been given the staff he wants and I expect to see a massive improvement in the Springboks this year.

There are problems, but the people who coach defence in the franchises will, of course, care deeply about the defensive performances. In 2013, I remember when the Springboks conceded five tries against the All Blacks at Ellis Park, but we needed the bonus point to win the Rugby Championship and we played a high-tempo game, which a lot of people said was one of the best Test matches ever played. But I stewed over those five tries for a month; but then at least we only conceded one try, to France, on the whole European tour thereafter.

So our defence in general is not in a great situation at present and whether it is due to conditioning problems or the speed of the modern game is open to debate. But you can never win a rugby match if you are conceding that many tries.

There’s obviously currently an emphasis on attacking skills but I’m certain the defence coaches are still being given sufficient time with their teams, and they would have done a lot of work on certain aspects of how the opposition attack. Like the Australian middle ruck attack, for instance, where the flyhalf goes hard for the line with a wing or centre like Israel Folau hard on their shoulder.

It’s no surprise when the New Zealand teams employ the kick-pass, especially the Hurricanes.

They employ the rush defence, therefore their wings have to be high and so there is always space behind them. Beauden Barrett would have had a lot of practice doing the kick-pass in training because he would see and have a high understanding of that space all the time.

The Stormers left too much of the field free, nearly 20 metres of space, and with players set in the wide channels, that’s not the smartest move.

In order to make sure you cover the width of the field, you need your tight five to work really hard close to the ruck, to set the breakdown correctly with good placing between the three pillars, and then the outside backs go wider.

The Bulls obviously had problems with their defence and if you said it started with their conditioning then you would not be far off. They also have folding problems, they’re just not setting the breakdown around the corner and so they end up with insufficient numbers.

They were also caught out by grubbers and so one has to ask questions about the back three’s positional play. They need to co-ordinate better to cover those and they need a much higher work-rate.

The Southern Kings have also had defensive problems and so it is only really the Lions and Sharks, who are defending in the same fashion as always, who can be satisfied with their defence.

The Lions have shown a great defensive improvement and one must credit JP Ferreira for improving their consistency in this regard.

The Lions are rolling through nicely and it will be a phenomenal tour if they can beat the Brumbies, which will make it probably the first unbeaten tour by a South African team – a tremendous achievement, and they’ve been winning with bonus points!

We know Australian rugby is at an all-time low and they have even more defensive problems, but their forwards are really their soft underbelly and the Lions have exposed that to great effect.

And the quality of finishing this weekend by Courtnall Skosan and Sylvian Mahuza was top-class. As we get closer to the Springbok selection, it’s a good time for players to remind the national coach that they are out there by scoring skilful tries like that.

In South Africa, skills development seems to be more coach-driven, but in New Zealand, the players take personal responsibility for it. An example at the Kubota Spears is Patrick Osborne, who has played at the top level as a wing, but he works hard on his kicking. He’s playing as a right-footer on the left wing, so he’s constantly working on his left-footed grubbers and other kicks, he does that consistently.

To see a top New Zealand SuperRugby player take individual responsibility like that was quite an eye-opener.


John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012 through to the 2015 World Cup, where they conceded the least line-breaks in the tournament and an average of just one try per game. Before that, McFarland 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.

Elgar stars but not enough to prevent Dolphins being favourites 0

Posted on January 01, 2016 by Ken

Dean Elgar was the star of the third day of the Sunfoil Series match between the Unlimited Titans and the Dolphins at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Saturday, but his heroic century was not enough to prevent the visitors going into the final day as favourites.

Elgar scored a defiant 122 that carried the Titans to 261 all out in their second innings, but that leaves the Dolphins with just 177 to score on the final day for a win that would keep their title hopes alive but will all but eliminate the North-Eastern Gauteng side from contention.

The national opener and fellow left-hander Qaasim Adams added 138 for the fifth wicket and seemed to have given the Titans a good chance of setting the Dolphins a daunting target on a pitch that is offering both steep bounce from a length and some deliveries keeping low.

But the lanky Calvin Savage ended Adams’ brilliant counter-attacking 72 when he had him caught behind in the eighth over after tea and then added the important scalp of David Wiese, also caught by wicketkeeper Morne van Wyk, for a duck.

Mangaliso Mosehle also failed to score, Mathew Pillans bowling him fourth ball, and left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj trapped Marchant de Lange lbw for six.

The Dolphins pacemen are all tall, strong lads who hit the deck hard, which is ideal for a pitch with inconsistent bounce, but it was leg-spinner Daryn Smit who eventually removed Elgar, trapping him lbw after a 343-minute stay that just proved the mental strength of the 27-year-old.

*The bizhub Highveld Lions, who lead the competition by 17.24 points with two rounds left after this weekend, are in a strong position heading into the final day of their match against the Chevrolet Knights in Bloemfontein.

The Knights are 76 without loss in their second innings, but they still trail by 117 runs after the Lions scored 441 in their first innings.

The Lions were unable to separate openers Gihahn Cloete (33*) and Reeza Hendricks (38*) in the 27 overs before stumps, but the Knights will nevertheless be up against it in trying to survive against the attack that has earned the most bowling bonus points this season.

The Lions total was built around a punchy century by Neil McKenzie (108), with Thami Tsolekile scoring 48 as they took their fifth-wicket partnership to 85, before off-spinner Werner Coetsee (five for 78) and paceman Duanne Olivier (four for 94) counter-punched for the Knights.

*In Cape Town, Omphile Ramela celebrated his 27th birthday by batting for 403 minutes and posting his first Sunfoil Series century, his monumental 129 leading the Nashua Cape Cobras to 545 all out against the Chevrolet Warriors.

The visitors are in serious trouble with a first-innings deficit of 257, but openers David White (20*) and Michael Price (58*) played with a gravitas suiting the situation as they took the Warriors to 88 without loss at stumps.

Justin Ontong (82) and Justin Kemp (73) were the other main run-getters for the Cobras on the third day.

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