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Ken Borland



Sharks have put SuperRugby epoch behind them, fully ready to embrace European competition 0

Posted on May 02, 2023 by Ken

South African rugby teams have put the SuperRugby epoch behind them and, now that they have tasted the Champions Cup tournament, are ready to fully embrace European competition, even when it takes a team like the Sharks from the subtropical summer heat of Durban one week into the icy winter of the hilly Bordeaux region the next.

The Sharks, having marked their Champions Cup debut with an impressive 39-31 win over Harlequins at Kings Park, now take on Bordeaux Begles at the Chaban Delmas Stadium on Friday night.

“It definitely met expectations and all the hype playing against Harlequins and we made a good start, even though there was a lot for us to improve on,” hooker Bongi Mbonambi said on Tuesday from France.

“And now we take on top French players at home in front of their own crowd. The big difference is we just came from 31° in Durban to 2° at the moment and it might be zero on Friday night.

“It’s a totally different kind of cold, but we are here to make memories and make sure we are totally prepared. We’re looking forward to the challenge.

“The massive learning from the Quins game was that we can never relax, these are very good teams in this competition. They’ve been playing European Cup for longer than us, and we still have a lot to learn.

“We have to embrace it, you can’t always have home advantage. But even in tough conditions and with a hostile crowd, some of us enjoy it, it’s like what we face in international rugby. Hopefully we can teach the other players to embrace it too,” Mbonambi said.

Bordeaux lost their opening Champions Cup match away to Gloucester 22-17 in a photo finish, but the fact they were 17-5 up in the final quarter will have them extra motivated to inflict some real damage on the Sharks this weekend at home.

Bordeaux have a powerful pack and a punchy backline, and the fact that their halfbacks, scrummie Maxime Lucu and pivot Matthieu Jalibert, both played off the bench against the Springboks last month, steering France to victory, is a graphic illustration of the sort of quality the Sharks are up against.

“The French teams always hurt after losing in the Champions Cup and Bordeaux have a really good squad,” Mbonambi acknowledged. “They slipped up last weekend, so this Friday will be really tough.

“They have great loose forwards and their halfbacks played in the Test, they are really good at running the whole place, they control things.

“Their pack will definitely put our attacking breakdown under pressure and we can’t let their big forwards run at us,” Mbonambi said.

Who will shine above the thin pickings as lights go out at Newlands? 0

Posted on October 05, 2020 by Ken

In terms of the national team, the lights will be turned off at Newlands for probably the last time after the Springbok Showdown on Saturday evening, which is what the game between the Green and Gold scratch teams will most likely be remembered for. Apart from getting some much-needed game time into the legs of the Springbok squad for the Rugby Championship, there could be thin pickings for Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber given the difficulties associated with getting a team to gel after one week together.

Still, there will be some fine talent on display and it will do nobody any harm to shine given the lack of rugby South Africa has suffered this year. For the established Springboks, Saturday will be about saying farewell to Newlands while for the young guns, they will be judged mostly on their character and how much they have picked up off the training field this week.

“Cape Town has always been one of my favourite venues, although it’s unfortunate that there won’t be a crowd, that changes the dynamic. But we all know the history of Newlands and it will be great playing there one more time, even though we know how greasy it can be if the weather is bad. It’s also going to be very nice playing with new people around you,” Springbok Gold captain Lukhanyo Am said on Friday.

“Lots of energy is what the new players bring and it’s been a big week for those youngsters selected for what is basically the Emerging Springboks. They have got to experience what it’s like at Test level in terms of preparation and the environment in camp. We’ve tried to share our knowledge as senior players, they have received a lot of information, we’ve really pushed the learning, clarity and detail and hopefully it will make them better players.”

Part of the education for the youngsters will be in how to deal with combining with players you have never played with before in just a week.

“It’s really exciting to be playing alongside a guy like Rikus Pretorius, who has a lot of energy. And coming up against Wandisile Simelane is going to be challenging because he is very exciting and because of his prowess on attack we will definitely be looking out for him. No-one’s going into the game for a loss, we’re all very competitive athletes.

“We have to play with what we have, but we have a couple of tricks up our sleeves and even though we’ve only had a week to gel, we should all be able to execute whatever plans we have. It’s really nice playing with new guys in a situation where there’s less pressure. But in common with the Sharks environment, here at the Springboks it’s all about taking ownership as players,” Am said.

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    Philemon 1:7 – “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”

    “Every disciple of Jesus has a capacity for love. The most effective way to serve the Master is to share his love with others. Love can comfort, save the lost, and offer hope to those who need it. It can break down barriers, build bridges, establish relationships and heal wounds.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech

    If there’s a frustrating vacuum in your spiritual life and you fervently desire to serve the Lord but don’t know how you’re meant to do that, then start by loving others in his name.

     



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