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Ken Borland

Bulls have played some fine rugby, but lessons from Italy need to be taken on board – Kriel 0

Posted on October 13, 2021 by Ken

The Bulls have overcome all manner of pressure and played some fine rugby, becoming a real pain in the neck for their South African rivals, but if there is one performance where fingers could be pointed at them for not pitching, it was the Rainbow Cup final against Benetton Treviso in June. But fullback David Kriel said on Tuesday that the squad has taken those lessons from Italy on board.

They will need to have learnt from the harsh lesson they were dished out that day because, in their first trip overseas since Super Rugby in March 2020 they were humbled 35-8 by Treviso, who were considered no-hopers before the game. And now on Saturday they face the might of Leinster at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in their first ever United Rugby Championship match.

“It’s another opportunity for us to build on what we learnt from the Benetton Treviso game, which was not our best performance. But we took it as a stepping stone and an opportunity for growth. It was a challenging experience but good for the squad. This time around we want to be more clinical and play like the championship side we are.

“It’s comforting that this time we are in Europe for a while, we can get used to the conditions and the lifestyle, and it will certainly benefit the squad being together for a whole month. Personally, it allows me to be like a sponge and soak up the lessons while I’m still young. We are the Currie Cup champions, we must own it and we know that Leinster will want to show they are better than us,” Kriel said.

Given their pedigree, with five European titles and being one of only four teams to ever defend the European Cup, no-one is ever going to err by considering Leinster the underdogs when they take on a Bulls side that has swept all aside at home but is yet to prove themselves overseas.

And the 22-year-old Kriel is certainly aware of how imperious Leinster have been in dominating the Pro14 that preceded the URC.

“Growing up I would always watch a quality side like Leinster. Someone like Johnny Sexton is still playing, but previously those great centres Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy played for Leinster too. So I’m a bit nervous about playing against them, but also very excited for the opportunity.

“The Currie Cup prepared us for lots of high-ball catching and the URC sides love that too, so as outside backs we’ve been working hard to make sure we don’t make mistakes there. Otherwise, as a fullback you’re not necessarily in the game for the whole 80 minutes, so I just try to be everywhere looking for work, wherever I can be used,” Kriel said.

Sharks delighted to get 2nd chance against top-class Lions who inflicted pain on them before 0

Posted on August 03, 2021 by Ken

Even though the British and Irish Lions are a ruthless, top-class outfit that inflicted plenty of pain on them in midweek, Sharks coach Sean Everitt said on Friday that his team is delighted to get a second chance against them when they meet in a hastily-arranged rematch at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

With the Bulls having to postpone their scheduled match against the tourists on Saturday due to Covid cases in their squad, and the Sharks having been in a bio-bubble in Johannesburg since last Friday, the KwaZulu-Natalians have agreed to step up again and ensure the Lions don’t miss out on valuable game-time before their Test series against the Springboks.

Having been hammered 54-7 at Ellis Park, the Sharks are hopeful of putting on a better show, with Everitt naming a vastly-changed side thanks to them having 36 players up on the Highveld due to Covid precautions.

“There’s massive excitement in the team, we’ve only been playing against South African teams so it’s great to have fresh opposition, even though they are a world-class outfit. It’s an opportunity for us to learn from our mistakes and rectify those. When we did the review, we saw the opportunities we created, but also the errors and soft moments that ruined those.

“It was surprising to see how we put the Lions through their paces, normally it’s all doom and gloom when you take a 54-7 hiding, but there were actually lots of positives. I think we have a shot at redemption but we have to tidy up and cut down on the errors when we were in good positions. They were mostly unforced errors and a hard pill to swallow when they happen on the Lions’ tryline,” Everitt said.

Captain Phepsi Buthelezi retains his place at eighthman and he and scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse were two of the few players to show some fire in the first match against the Lions; together with the experienced Lionel Cronje, who has replaced the misfiring Curwin Bosch at flyhalf, they will provide the backbone of the Sharks’ effort.

The Sharks will certainly need strength of character to bounce back from their Ellis Park mauling, but they also need to lift their intensity.

“The Lions tour has taught us a lot, it has showed us where we are in terms of conditioning and we need to get our ball-in-play time higher to at least 35 minutes, that’s what it takes to withstand the intensity of a team like the Lions. It make sense to give everyone an opportunity to have a taste of that, it will be a great learning experience of international rugby.

“You can see the intensity of the Lions, but until you’ve experienced it on the field and tried to match it, you don’t really understand it. But it will make us better players to see how an international team punishes your mistakes. But we did manage to keep the ball through numerous phases, we had two passages of close to three minutes, we must just not turn over the ball,” Everitt said.

Sharks: Anthony Volmink, Marnus Potgieter, Werner Kok, Murray Koster, Thaakir Abrahams, Lionel Cronje, Jaden Hendrikse, Phepsi Buthelezi (c), Mpilo Gumede, Dylan Richardson, Reniel Hugo, Le Roux Roets, Wiehahn Herbst, Kerron van Vuuren, Ntuthuko Mchunu. BenchDan Jooste, Mzamo Majola, Khutha Mchunu, Thembelani Bholi, Juandre Labuschagne, Cameron Wright, Boeta Chamberlain, Jeremy Ward.

The Gary Kirsten Foundation: Providing simple joys to savour 0

Posted on October 07, 2020 by Ken

After all the disappointment, pain and sadness the Proteas have put their supporters in England through, there was at least one wonderful moment of happiness that brought back the simple joys of the game to savour for those who had made their way to Weybridge, some 25km southwest of central London.
Former South African top-order batsman Gary Kirsten, who played in three World Cups between 1996 and 2003 and then coached India to their first triumph in 28 years in 2011, has turned his attention to grassroots development and the Gary Kirsten Foundation team that toured England is a shining light in terms of what can be achieved.
It all started about five years ago when Chris Hani High School principal Madoda Mahlutshana was giving Kirsten a tour of the non-existent sporting facilities in Khayelitsha on the Cape Flats. A shocked Kirsten immediately committed himself to building two concrete nets and supplying a full-time coach.
From there, the Gary Kirsten Foundation’s involvement has just kept expanding, reflecting the hunger in the area for proper cricket facilities and opportunities. The foundation has now built five artificial net facilities around the township and there are seven full-time academy coaches working there.
“These kids get the chance to play and have coaching every day after school in an area where there is no formalised school sport. Our main push is to create a proper hub for cricket, as well as teaching the kids life skills and building their personal skills. And we also want to build up the number of township coaches,” Tim Human, the business development manager of the Gary Kirsten Foundation said.
Typical of the man of action Kirsten is, he then set a new goal – to take a team from Khayalitsha to England during the World Cup and for them to play a few matches against English schools.
After five months of sourcing sponsors, organising passports and travel arrangements for 10-to-13-year-olds who have never been out of Cape Town let alone overseas, that team completed their UK tour by beating the Weybridge Cricket Club U13s, coming from one of the most wealthy areas of England (Cliff Richard lives here) and a Premier League club. It was their second win on tour, the other results being a tie and a loss, and it was completed in comfortable fashion in front of a large crowd as former Springbok captain Bob Skinstad organised a function that pleased the masses no end.
“This tour was a dream from five months ago. A lot of school teams tour England because mom and dad fork out the money, but you never see a township team doing it because who pays for it? I’m very proud that we managed to raise the money because our friends and supporters came to the party. We are all about rolling out opportunity.
“I told the parents in February that we would be taking their kids to England to watch the World Cup and they said I was mad in the head. But we are stakeholders in that community and it’s taken us a long time to do this, but they trust us now. It is their programme and we are just enablers, this programme is township focused,” Kirsten said.
While there have been other “development programmes” that have enjoyed time in the limelight, what sets Kirsten’s efforts apart is that they are all about the community.
While he accepts that the absolute stellar talents he unearths will more than likely be snapped up by rich schools elsewhere to complete their education and earn SA Schools caps for their benefactors, Kirsten’s efforts are all about uplifting the entire community of Khayalitsha and not mining the talent from there for export to better-off schools.
“I would never try and stop a kid from getting a scholarship if they were offered one, but to put a kid through a year at an ex-Model C school probably costs R50 000 plus boarding. So that’s R250 000 per child for their whole education, so it gets steep. Of the 19 Black Africans who have gone on to represent the Proteas, only Mfuneko Ngam was fully educated in a township.
“If your chances of making the national cricket side from a township are non-existent then I have a fundamental issue with that. Has our country not moved forward enough that we don’t say that you can’t make it from the townships, that you have to go to a Hilton College to make the Proteas? Sure, they can cherry-pick the best talent, but I don’t think we should be dumping any talent. I would rather see them stay in their schools and community and make sure the system works, that’s our focus,” Kirsten said.

Only human to feel betrayal over Olivier 0

Posted on April 30, 2020 by Ken

In the wake of Duanne Olivier becoming the latest South African cricketer to drop the Kolpak bombshell, it would be only human for Cricket South Africa chief executive Thabang Moroe to be feeling betrayed and to be considering his options when it comes to ensuring that his organisation and the staff involved with the national teams don’t have to go through that pain again, never mind the considerable resources expended – and now wasted – on grooming a player to make a successful entry into international cricket.

Olivier was probably the good news story of the summer, getting a prolonged run in the national team thanks to injuries to Lungi Ngidi and then Vernon Philander, and his immediate success prompted the Proteas brainstrust to take drastic steps to keep him in the side: World-class spinner Keshav Maharaj was sidelined and they even went into some games a batsman short, further weakening an already struggling batting line-up, just to ensure their new-found Enforcer could keep charging in and taking wickets.

The falling-over-backwards continued at board level as Olivier was offered a two-year contract, something highly unusual. The fact that everyone else only received a one-year contract when the new deals were announced on Friday shows just how obliging they were trying to be to the 26-year-old Free State fast bowler.

And then it turns out that all the time he was talking about his Proteas achievements being a dream come true and how proud he was, all the time he was negotiating with CSA for a two-year contract, he had already decided to sign a lucrative Kolpak deal with Yorkshire.

South African cricket has been through this betrayal before of course, with Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw jumping ship midway through the previous home series against Sri Lanka in January 2017. Abbott had spent the previous weeks gushing about how delighted he was to be finally getting a prolonged run for the Proteas while Rossouw, after CSA had spent huge amounts of medical bills on him and persisted with through one of the worst duck-laden starts to an international career, merely dumped his employees with barely a word spoken.

This is not a Kolpak move like Morne Morkel’s, who, after more than 10 years of service to South African cricket, decided his body could no longer take the grind of the international game and nobody bemoaned him giving his pension a well-earned boost in England.

Olivier is in his prime, has played just 10 Tests and two ODIs, and Ottis Gibson and Faf du Plessis have very much been making plans for the future around having him in the fast bowling pool.

Olivier is, of course, represented and managed by an agent, Weber van Wyk. Who just happens to be the same agent who organised the Kolpak deals for Abbott and Rossouw, hence the same scarcely ethical modus operandi that clearly cannot be termed ‘negotiating in good faith’. Van Wyk has earned a fortune exporting South African talent to England.

If you were the CEO of a multimillion rand company that spends millions on developing their key assets, only to see them up-and-leave as soon as they get promoted to a level that makes them attractive to others, what would you do? If the same person was behind three of your prize assets leaving, would you reconsider having any dealings with that agent or his clientele ever again?

When Olivier was called up to replace Abbott for the third Test against Sri Lanka in 2017, he told CricInfo: “I want to play as long as possible for my country. When I am playing, I don’t think about stuff off the field. I haven’t considered a Kolpak deal.”

Who would have thought he would follow Abbott so closely and so quickly, swelling his pockets but surely to the detriment of his standing in the game.

Sadly, we have seen this lack of patriotism stretch to rugby circles in Bloemfontein as well. Apart from the despicable shenanigans of Johan Goosen in retiring from the game for a year just to get out of a recently-extended mega-millions contract in France, so he could sign an even bigger contract with a rival club, a school like Grey College is not even pretending to support South African rugby anymore, having signed an exclusive deal with Goosen’s Montpellier club to feed players into their – and therefore France’s – pipeline.

Money can buy many things, but it will never be able to buy respect.

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  • Thought of the Day

    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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