for quality writing

Ken Borland

Jake has a little grouse: SA Rugby should remove the cap 0

Posted on May 23, 2023 by Ken

Bulls director of rugby Jake White has always been an outspoken commentator on the affairs of the game and he had a little grouse this week at what he sees as an unfair advantage for the European teams he is now competing against in the Champions Cup.

If White were not such a shrewd practitioner of mind games, a master of motivating his players, often saying one thing in public and telling his team the opposite, his comments about South African teams not being able to win the Champions Cup could be seen as really defeatist talk.

White justified his decision to send his second-stringers to England to take on Premiership big guns Exeter Chiefs on Saturday by pointing out that next Friday night, they have a crucial United Rugby Championship match against the Stormers in Cape Town and the travel arrangements made it well-nigh impossible for him to field his best XV in both matches.

White said: “I would like to do well in both competitions, but I am a realist. To win the Champions Cup, on three consecutive weekends you have to beat teams like Toulouse, Leicester Tigers and La Rochelle.

“Do we have the squads in South Africa that can do that away from home, because of the participation agreement? If you believe we do then you are either disconnected from reality or you believe our teams are going to get very lucky.”

The well-travelled World Cup winning coach said the biggest cause of an uneven playing field is the massive financial resources available to the European clubs. According to White, the French and English clubs have budget of around R180 million to pay their players, while SA Rugby has put a cap on our teams’ spending, at only R70 million.

Okay we can accept that the European clubs will always be richer than our teams simply because of the effect our decidedly mediocre economy has on the exchange rate. But perhaps SA Rugby should lift their player cap restrictions, especially with equity partners now having come into the local game.

Apart from the lesser budget available to him, White has also been banging on for some time about the number of South Africans playing overseas, saying the Springboks should only choose locally-based players in order to stop this player drain.

But it was exactly that restriction that plunged Springbok rugby into mediocrity in the previous decade; why do you think one of the first things Rassie Erasmus did when he became national coach was to do away with the locally-based rule he had enforced on Allister Coetzee when acting as director of rugby.

And White also needs to be a realist in accepting that for many players, the massive salaries they can earn overseas are worth taking oneself out of national contention for.

But if SA Rugby decides salary caps are not the correct way to go, that would at least halt some of the player exits.

The good news is that some excellent players have already turned their backs on overseas deals – Eben Etzebeth is one of the biggest global stars, able to command practically any fee, and he is inspiring the Sharks, while Rohan Janse van Rensburg swopped the Sale Sharks for the Durban variety.

Marco van Staden was lured back from Leicester Tigers to play for the Bulls, while Johan Goosen, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Cyle Brink, Jacques du Plessis and Nizaam Carr are all the sort of quality players who really boost the strength of local rugby.

The Stormers have nabbed a player of similarly experienced ilk in Juan de Jongh and the Lions have brought back fellow Springboks Willem Alberts, Jaco Kriel and Ruan Dreyer.

Process far from perfect, but Smith’s Boucher appointment not racist 0

Posted on May 23, 2022 by Ken

An independent arbitration panel, while criticising the process as being far from perfect, has found Cricket South Africa’s now former director of cricket Graeme Smith was not guilty of any unfair racial discrimination in his appointment of Mark Boucher as Proteas coach ahead of Enoch Nkwe.

CSA, acting on the “tentative” findings of their Social Justice and Nation-Building Report, alleged that Smith had shown racial bias against Nkwe, who was the interim coach of the Proteas when the former national captain took over as director of cricket in December 2019.

But the arbitrators, advocates Ngwako Maenetje SC and Michael Bishop, cleared Smith of any racism and instructed CSA to pay his costs for the entire arbitration.

Smith explained his rationale for choosing Boucher in the hearing, starting with his impression of the Proteas team under Nkwe and captain Faf du Plessis on their disastrous tour of India in 2019, for which he was one of the TV commentators.

Smith described the Proteas as being “rudderless”, their performance was “way off par” and there was “quite a lot of onfield infighting between the players”. He told the arbitrators that his view on the coaching situation might have been different if the Proteas were a more experienced team with a captain that was going to be around for the next 10 years.

“I felt that I needed a character that could handle … an extremely high pressurised position, you are at the cold [sic] face of the world media, the … crowds. … I felt the team at the time needed someone that had extensive … experience in dealing with conditions, with the pressures that come with the international game. I knew that this team was going to lose extensively up front, it was going to take time to build it,” Smith told the hearing.

The arbitrators found that Smith made it clear to CSA that Boucher would be his appointment as the new coach, there was no objection from CSA and no suggestion from them that this was unfair to Nkwe. The then chairman of the board, Chris Nenzani, told Smith that he had the authority to appoint coaches and CSA never insisted on proper processes.

There was also a time factor because Smith could only make the appointments on December 11, 2019 after he was appointed director of cricket, and the Test series against England began on December 26, with the Proteas needing to assemble 8-10 days before that.

The arbitrators found that the CSA directive was for long-term appointments, not interim ones, and that it was their “inaction and delays that put Smith under pressure”.

CSA’s assertion that Boucher should never have been appointed national coach because he does not have a Level 4 coaching certificate, while Nkwe does, was left standing nude in front of the arbitrators when it was pointed out that CSA were happy to appoint both Gary Kirsten and Ottis Gibson as Proteas head coach when neither of them had a Level 4 qualification.

CSA Board can look forward to more legal action against them 0

Posted on June 17, 2020 by Ken

Cricket South Africa’s Board can look forward to more legal action against them as dismissed Head of Sales and Sponsor Relations Clive Eksteen announced on Tuesday that he was taking them to the CCMA for unfair dismissal.

Eksteen was sacked at the weekend based on a single charge that was added to his disciplinary hearing after he was suspended on October 29 for his alleged role in the non-payment of image rights to the players’ union. That extra charge was related to a loss of $100 000 the CSA Exco alleged the organisation suffered because Eksteen negotiated a deal with Amul, the multinational sponsors of South Africa’s T20 series in India last year, for an amount less than had been approved by the CSA Exco.

While Eksteen said he was cleared of all charges related to the non-payment of image rights – the presiding officer finding that the former Proteas spinner was in fact instrumental in the South African Cricketers’ Association eventually being paid – and an additional charge involving an agreement he was not even part of between the SABC and a sponsor, he was found guilty of Charge 5 and dismissed.

Eksteen said this was despite him providing evidence that the agreement with Amul was signed by his superior, chief commercial officer Kugandrie Govender, and that she knew how much they had offered before she informed Exco.

According to CSA disciplinary processes, any appeal can only be over sanction and needs to be handled by the chief executive, who is the legal officer. But acting CEO Jacques Faul is not allowed to be involved in disciplinary matters according to his contract, so he forwarded the appeal to the CSA Board, who last weekend upheld his dismissal.

“The Chair’s finding that revenue was lost was directly contradicted by the evidence of CSA’s employees, evidence she ignored. Subsequent to my conviction, I presented evidence in mitigation. This included a variety of reputable testimonials. The Chair refused to accept pertinent testimonials into evidence. She also refused to accept that Charge 5 was a minor charge, way less serious than the SACA charges on which I had been acquitted.

“In addition, I am in possession of evidence which exculpates me, which has come to light after the conclusion of the disciplinary inquiry, which evidence was known to CSA at the time. In these circumstances, I shall immediately be referring a dispute to the CCMA regarding my unfair dismissal. All of the evidence presented at my disciplinary inquiry, as well as the additional evidence which has now come to light … will be laid out before the CCMA. My attorney and I are totally confident that I will be vindicated in due course. Unfortunately, I believe I have been made a scapegoat for the shortcomings of others and I believe further that relevant evidence has been ignored or overlooked,” Eksteen said in his statement released on Tuesday.

The CSA Board, who thus far have failed to take any action against former CEO Thabang Moroe, who is suspended on full pay after losses of millions of dollars under his watch, even had the gall last weekend to issue a statement saying Eksteen had been fired after “transgressions of a serious nature”. They failed to mention it was over a theoretical loss of only $100 000 and that it had nothing to do with the dispute with SACA, who have even come out in support of Eksteen’s handling of their image rights dispute with CSA, which involved a reported amount of R2.4 million.

Super summer for Proteas, never mind your last game 0

Posted on April 17, 2017 by Ken


They say you’re only as good as your last game, but that would be an unfair measure of the Standard Bank Proteas’ brilliance over a remarkable summer during which their resurgence left them as the number one ranked side in ODI cricket and the nearest challengers to India for supremacy in the Test format.

Of course, their second-placed ranking in Tests is thanks to them beating New Zealand 1-0 in their series that ended last week, with the Proteas escaping probable defeat in the final Test thanks to rain on the last day.

Then again, this Proteas side has shown before that they are at their best under pressure and who knows what Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock, with the help of the tail, might have achieved on the fifth day in Hamilton.

South Africa’s next assignment is the major challenge of a tour to England, but they can take heart from the fact that the conditions they overcame in New Zealand are probably the nearest to what they will experience in the United Kingdom during their visit for three ODIs, the Champions Trophy, three T20 internationals and four Tests, starting on May 19.

“We feel nicely set up for England having won all three series in New Zealand, which is not done often down there. Obviously we’re all gearing up towards the Champions Trophy and the fact that we won the ODI series 3-2 by winning what was like a final at Eden Park will be good going forward.

“Conditions were probably closest to what we will find on the England tour, there was always seam movement but not excessive bounce, which is what we expect in England. We’ve used various combinations and we have an idea for what works. We’re particularly pleased that all-rounders came to the fore and that batsmen in the lower-order were winning us games,” assistant coach Adrian Birrell said upon the Proteas’ return to South Africa.

For the Test matches, there are question marks over opener Stephen Cook and veteran middle-order batsman and part-time off-spinner JP Duminy. It will be interesting to see whether the selectors will branch out towards a new-look future team by making a couple of changes to the batting line-up.

But to make a change at the top of the order for the third Test in Hamilton, and introduce a debutant in Theunis de Bruyn batting out of position in place of Cook, was probably not the wisest move, and senior opener Dean Elgar spoke about how such selections cause uncertainty in the batting line-up.

“We had a good thing going but selection is out of the players’ control, it’s one of those things. It’s not easy for Stephen, I’ve been through it before and you can go into a dark place. The team has still been winning though, so it’s very difficult, especially when you know how much hard work he has put in and he’s a massive team guy.

“But the general thing with batsmen is that if you think you’re safe, you’re not. Your head is always on the chopping block and a good ball or a bad decision could cost you your spot. It’s unsettling that a guy like him can be left out when he’s been working his butt off,” Elgar said.

Cook will be preparing for the England tour by playing for Durham in the County Championship, while De Bruyn, who predictably failed in Hamilton having not been given the best chance to succeed, should be chosen for the SA A tour that precedes the Proteas’ trip, allowing the selectors to compare their form.

Or will Aiden Markram, also surely a certainty for the SA A squad, be the bolter who makes his debut in the first Test at Lord’s from July 6?

Or does De Bruyn not deserve another chance given that nobody should be dropped after just one game?

These are the questions that the selectors have left themselves with.

South Africa will certainly go to England with a settled attack though.

Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander had the Black Caps batsmen under constant pressure, relieved only by the sheer class of Kane Williamson, and spinner Keshav Maharaj will go to England raring to go after a stellar tour of New Zealand in which he topped the averages with 15 wickets in three Tests at an average of just 19.93.

There is a chance, however, that the Proteas will go the route of four seamers against England, in which case Chris Morris, full of runs and wickets at the back end of the summer, should be turned to as an all-rounder.

As brilliantly as the players have performed, enormous credit must go to coach Russell Domingo and his staff.

Nine months ago, it did not seem likely that Domingo would be taking the Proteas to England. Whether he is going to continue after the tour is another uncertainty hanging over the Proteas, but Elgar has no doubt he is the man to take the team further forward.

“If I can say one word to sum up the summer it’s that we are grateful. A year ago we were fading away, worrying about our own performance, but since then we’ve started playing for the badge and the environment has a big role in making it all possible. The last year has been amazing, but we must stay humble because we’re still not number one in Tests.

“But personally I would love to see Russell stay on, he’s still got the best years of his coaching career ahead of him over the next couple of years. He’s getting better with age. I’m a big Russell Domingo fan and I’d be more than happy if he stayed on.”

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Thought of the Day

    Don’t be so busy – even working for God – that you don’t have regular quiet time. Don’t let your activities become more important than your time with the Father. You can be alive ‘for’ God without experiencing the presence and power of the living Christ.

    “Attempting to serve the Lord without the strength of the Holy Spirit results in frustration and ultimate disaster.

    “If your vision of him grows dim, your service will become powerless and ineffective. This will happen if your spiritual reserves are not regularly replenished through prayer and meditation.

    “You must put him first in all your activities. Your service for him must be the result of your intimate knowledge of him. Only when he enjoys priority in all things, can you understand life from his perspective. Putting Christ first in your life and work makes you a more capable servant of God.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech

↑ Top