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Out To Touch

Analysing the latest sports developments and what they mean in the greater scheme of life.
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Forgive yourself Dewald Potgieter

By Sbu Mjikeliso | 2013-07-29 07:17:45

FORGIVE yourself Dewald because your friends never will,

For the decisions you never took, which would have meant the Bulls would be in the Super 15 still,

Do not dwell on what might have happened or what might have not,

For your friends are there to remind you, lest you forgot.

My poetry skills clearly need some polishing. But forgive yourself Dewald for opting to go for touch three times in the dying stages of the semifinal against Brumbies last Saturday, when kicking for posts seemed the obvious, logical, option.

You are probably crying in your shower, cold water pouring over you singing an Afrikaans rendition of R. Kelly’s song “If I could turn back the hands of time” or bashing your head repeatedly against the wall of your garage to a concussion, screaming “Stupid, stupid, stupid!”

But, hear me out, I believe you are not entirely to blame for probably the worst ending to a contest Loftus will ever see. Sure, had you taken the first penalty with the scores at 20-19 in your favour, the Bulls would have put a massive blow to the Brumbies’ chances of winning the match.

Or if you had taken the next couple of three-pointers that you milked from the breakdown, the tie would have been killed as a contest (seven to ten-point leads garnered with less than five minutes to go in a rugby game generally do that).

I’m not one to pass judgement on right decisions or wrong, my track record proves as much: back in May, at my good friend Matt’s wedding, I made the ill-judged decision to take the after party to the top of the roof of the wedding venue.

The night ended with me falling bum first down many stairs. I’ve forgiven myself – my friends haven’t and they remind me of my stupidity every chance they get – because I’m the only one that made the decision and I promptly paid the price.

It was easy for me because I didn’t need the backing of team-mates to escalate the party (excuse the pun). You, on the other hand, needed total commitment from the men you led that day.

Call me crazy but I believe your team, especially the core, its forwards, failed to back up your decision to go for the line, in all three times that you decided to do so.

Dewald potgieter Bulls

Will they ever forgive me, Lord … will I ever even admit I was wrong?

You probably don’t want to do this but let’s go back to those lineouts you chose – neither of them were successful, were they?

Your players, in their minds, opposed the decision to go for the line, so they never followed your option with belief. That is why the first lineout was spilt and the second and third amounted to nothing.

The Bulls pack, especially the lineout machinery, were supposed to back your decision wholeheartedly, regardless of what they felt about it. Instead they went to the throw-in in a sulky, tenuous manner, dragging their feet almost, like suburban children who were told to do farm chores.

They will never admit this right now but it explains why a Bulls lineout that had plenty successful mauls (to add to plenty successful steals of the opposition’s lineout), suddenly could not properly pluck the ball from mid air and bring it down safely and securely to earth.

I will forever be reminded of my epic fall, heck I might even haunt that flight of stairs after I pass on. You might suffer the same fate, so you may as well forgive yourself now, bro beans.

Everyone needs a Joe Sutton in their lives

By Sbu Mjikeliso | 2013-07-20 15:13:44

WHEN renowned journalist Peter Malherbe joined the Sunday Times in the early 80′s – I can safely say before I was even born – he joined an elite group of Dale College old boys that ruled its newsroom.

Then editor Tertius Myburgh and managing editor Joe Sutton were the people in charge of this great establishment. Sutton – as he wrote in the PE Herald earlier this year and I’m purely rehashing his words here – was the old Dalian that had a profound influence on Peter.

Sutton died at the age of 85, in February this year.

Peter wrote after his mentor’s passing:

While the editor is responsible for the political stance of the newspaper and the overall direction it takes, it is the managing editor who is often in charge of the day-to-day running of the paper and putting it all together.

In Joe you got what you saw. He was a kind, friendly man, but determined and dedicated to a fault. If he wanted a particular story that Sunday, he would continue to goad and push reporters and news editors until it landed on his desk. He believed in the Sunday Times and it was during his watch that the newspaper published some of its more memorable stories.

Ironically, I was to follow in his footsteps and become managing editor of the newspaper many years later. One of the things that I tried to emulate was his calm, unflappable disposition – a real challenge on a big newspaper like the Sunday Times. When the going got tough I would think of Joe and his simple approach to most issues. 

Peter went on to become exactly what he wanted to be. A journalist that influenced thought and influenced the times he was living in and when that hat fulfilled him, he moved to Thailand, to satisfy his insatiable appetite for travel and experiencing new things.

Peter was at the Durban office this week, apparently to give the bureau a pep talk, give them insight, enthuse them or spy on them or whatever.

But Peter was candid about the person that was the greatest influence in his life and his career. The person that gave him his first shot in the paper, the one that shaped his  journalistic mind and I’m sure – although I was not there – the person that stood up for him when many in the newsroom would have doubted his ability.

Being a journalist is tough. You need to know enough about everything to write about it, while you beg for insight from the experts of every available field. Then you have to compile that information so that Joe Khumalo down the street may also gain a bit of understanding.

And, Lord forbid, please don’t bore Khumalo to death, he has a wife and two kids to provide for.

We all need a Joe Sutton in our lives.

The person that believes in you, not because they are your relative or they think you’ll pay them back one day. No.

That person who will say: “Kid go to Mauritius, find out who has been running the housing scam that has scavenged millions from South Africans”, even though you might not have a contact in Mauritius or even a passport.

The point is, they trusted you to do the job, and you delivered because you dare not let your mentor  down. You’d die for him, if he sent you the brief. And he will trust you with even bigger assignments because you didn’t let him down the last time and on the cycle goes.

Rugby has plenty “Suttons” in the changing rooms.

These Suttons made sure that the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Pat Lambie  and Siya Kolisi  got their first shots at an early age. And guess what, they didn’t let their Suttons down.

They put their under-developed young bodies on the line, both appeasing the game plan and managing to add a bit of their flair and unique characteristics to their game.

I often wonder and worry about South African sport’s black sheep: soccer.

Soccer in South Africa is loved and enjoyed by many. Those who play it, do their best to make a decent spectacle out of it.

But I often worry that there aren’t enough Suttons in soccer. Guys that are there to mentor, groom and get the best from the player, not just on the field of play but off it.

Often budding soccer players need these mentors in their personal lives too, to get them away from the evils that come with fame and fortune. The good ol’ women and booze.

I was inspired to write this by two things (other than my yearning for the late Sutton): The cover of this month’s Kickoff magazine, which features renowned bad boys Jabu Pule and Steve Lekoelea; and Thulani “Tyson” Hlatshwayo’s impressive performances at the Cosafa Cup for Gordon Igesund’s watered down Bafana squad.

We all know about the famous bad boys so I’m going to head straight to Tyson.

Now, although I’m a firm believer that no single player should ever be praised in a losing cause (you win as a team, you lose as a team) the Ajax defender did his best to put up his hand for future selection. If the team loses, that means all the components that were designed to make it win failed, whether via penalty shoot-out or 90 minutes.

When a car crashes and kills everyone on board because the brakes failed, no one cares that the rear view mirror was positioned correctly. The same applies in team sports.

I feel like I’ve been going on forever. But the point is, Hlatshwayo (23) has entered the Bafana newsroom, it is really up to Gordon Igesund to decide whether he will be Hlatshwayo’s Sutton and include him in the final World Cup qualifier against Botswana or do the other thing that the editors we don’t know did, that Peter didn’t write about.

SIya Kolisi

Get out of my way Sucker!

 

Do you believe in Pitso’s Sundowns Renaissance?

By Sbu Mjikeliso | 2013-04-22 13:25:03

PITSO Mosimane has begged for understanding from Mamelodi Sundowns supporters and more time to complete the multimillionaire club’s renaissance.

The coach wants to change the way things have been done in the past and key to his grand plans is a new youth policy – something that has been foreign to cash kings Sundowns. There will be no more record-shattering salaries or over-inflated signing fees and no more dubious unlimited shopping sprees.

This comes a week after Mosimane revealed plans of a major clean-out at the club in the off-season, which has put players under pressure to justify their presence at Chloorkop.

“I’ve only been in here for four months … I’ll get it right, give me time,” said Mosimane, who took over from temperamental Dutchman Johan Neeskens last year.

“When I took over every team was above us [on the log] and we’ve moved away [from the drop zone] a little bit and got a bit of a breather. I haven’t bought a player; these are the same players I found here.

“I don’t want to go the same way that it has been for the last five years – buying players not knowing why you’re buying them.

“We are going for younger, hungrier players and paying less wages. We are changing the team but we ask for Sundowns people to understand our change of model.”

The former Bafana Bafana coach says he wants to give every player a chance to prove himself but, as seen in the 0-0 draw with AmaZulu in Durban on Sunday, that move comes at the cost of league points.

“I am not rotating to give players a rest,” Mosimane said. “I have to give a chance to the guys who haven’t had a chance to play, so that I can assess them at the end of the season. You can’t give assessment when you don’t give people a chance.

“Unfortunately, I’m doing it at the expense of the team, whereas we need results, we need points and we need to be consistent. Sundowns supporters want a win and they want it now.”

It is degrading for a club with lofty ambitions like Sundowns to lower their targets to a mere place in the top eight and for the them to be struggling to achieve this task is even more demeaning.

But such is the consequence of multiple coach changes over the years, failure to implement proper youth structures and using money as a solution to every problem.

“We are going through a slump and you must understand that it happens to all teams,” Mosimane explained.

“Don’t forget it has taken Kaizer Chiefs seven years and they have not yet won the league. But when everybody writes, they write about Mamelodi Sundowns being big spenders and without a trophy in the cabinet for the last five years. They are right but it’s a process.

“Yes I still see us making it into the top eight because not many people ahead of us are winning, some of them are losing. There are less points to play for but … there is still an opportunity, we’re only five points away from the top eight. Let’s see what happens.”

pitso mosimane

Wipe that smug grin off your face

Meet Sundowns, the Izikhothane of the PSL

By Sbu Mjikeliso | 2012-12-02 12:31:14

I had a laughing – then coughing – fit when fellow scribe and soccer analyst Tso joked that Mamelodi Sundowns were “Dikhothane tsa Pitori”.

Now if you have just landed from Mars, let me explain: Izikhothane is a group of youths practising a vile trend of buying expensive material – clothes, food, anything you can think of- mostly with money given to them by their parents and they go about destroying it as if it were worthless. The other day they were tearing R100 bank notes for kicks.

Well, the Motsepe Foundation (I guess not content with spending millions on under-performing players) hosted a concert in East London a day after Sundowns’ 1-0 Telkom Knockout final defeat to Bloemfontein Celtic. Now I’m sure that the concert was organised months before the final but why does it appear like the Sundowns family are more adept at organising lavish parties [insert Miss Mamelodi Sundowns pageant here] than they are getting the bloody team to play good football?

I understand the need to grow the brand but what good will it do if the team is 15th on the Absa Premiership log?

Coach Johan Neeskens has put Elias Pelembe, who is rumoured to be among the highest earners in the league at over R300,000 a month, in the stands. If that’s not Izikhothane behaviour, I really don’t know what is.

Neeskens is reviled by the Sundowns fans. Though they’ve suspended their violent streak, thank God, they have no say in the club anymore. They are expected to buy their match tickets, go to the stadium, sit down and shut the f**k up – and then watch this bunch soiling the Sundowns jersey once worn by Roger Feutmba, Raphael Chukwu and Zane Moosa.

British football writer Henry Winter, of the Telegraph, wrote about Chelsea after their 3-1 defeat to West Ham on Saturday:

Their confidence is brittle, their second-half collapse at a crowing, bubble-filled Upton Park raising legitimate questions about their character as well as Rafa Benítez’s ability to motivate them.

Winter could have been talking about Sundowns and Neeskens during the Telkom KO at Moses Mabhida.

Rafa Benitez meme

Chelsea fans will laugh at this, but deep down we want to cry

A friend of mine and staunch Downs supporter BBM’d me saying: “I feel like a housewife in abusive marriage. I keep hoping the situation will change but I get more beatings in return.” Sorry skat, I understand *bbm hug face**.

Here’s what I don’t get about Neeskens, which a number of tense conferences has failed to clear up. He doesn’t want to be challenged and he has no sense of consistency in selection. Holding mid Thamsanqa Sangweni went to Chloorkop will to fight for his place in the star studded team but was shafted after two brilliant performances in the 4-1 win over Kaizer Chiefs and 1-0 win over Chippa United beginning of the season.

It was the same with Edward Manqele. Why?

Elias Pelembe, one of Sundowns’ most gifted players, watches the games on television, like you and I. One week Richard Henyekane has been banished to Robben Island, the next he’s starting in the cup final.

Samuel Julies, no offense kid, is talented but too inexperienced for such a crucial midfield position in a cup final. Why couldn’t he have played Hlompo Kekana in a more advanced role in midfield? Was Kekana not the flavour of the month a few months ago, what has he done to warrant a permanent spot on the bench?

The first thing Neeskens did when appointed as Downs coach last year was get rid of the team’s best performer from the previous season, Matthew Pattison. That was the first sign of diabolical decision-making and egotism.

These are talented players, whose careers are wasting away on the sidelines whilst the man in charge berates his critics because they’ve “never kicked a soccer ball”. I’ll tell you what, Zane Moosa has kicked plenty a soccer ball but was not any less critical on television of the pathetic performance in Durban.

Neeskens is holding Sundowns at ransom; he knows that if the suits want to fire him, they’ll have to pay him out for the remaining three years of his five-year contract.

If Sundowns pick up some form, win the Nedbank Cup and finish in the top four at the end of the season I will eat these words along with humble pie and maybe also wear a hat written “Dunce of the season” for an entire day. If not, then Neeskens would have torn up more R100 bank notes than any of the Izikhothane delinquents can ever get their hands on.

izikhothane money

Don't you just wanna rip those notes to shreds with your bare hands?

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Natives are restless again – Tranformation

By Sbu Mjikeliso | 2012-11-25 10:34:19

It is a long and drawn-out subject, almost as old as sporting culture itself. Its protagonists have recycled their arguments so much that the colours have long faded; its antagonists holding to the “anti-reverse racism” card dearly – brandishing it confidently like a policeman would a warrant of arrest.

Some dread hearing and reading about it, skip the page at the mere mention of the word in the headline. Others, believe it or not, dread having to bring it up but they know that raising the issue is the only influence they have if they want the issue to go away.

It sounds crazy, but that’s the nature if the Catch22 of South African sport.

Ithembelihle Comprehensive School

Itembelihle Comprehensive teammates before a game against Molly Blackburn High School in Uitenhage. Rugby is hugely popular among black people in the Eastern Cape, but gets little official backing Picture: CARLOS AMATO

The transformation in sport issue will not go away until a deliberate attempt is made to empower players of colour in sports such as rugby and cricket.

Over the last month, after the talk shop that was the “Transformation Indaba”, I’ve come across some insightful pieces of writing that I wish more people could see. They aim to uncover why, after so many years of national unity, the levels of black representivity (plus black total pool of players still developing) are still at an unsatisfactory level.

We know that our rural and township schools don’t have gyms, cricket pitches, rugby polls, even rugby balls. It is a monumental struggle for black kids to make it to Springbok/Proteas level if they did not go to schools such as Grey College, Grey High (PE), Dale College, Bishops, Paul Roos, Affies and the like. Of course, some have done it before and hats off to them.

But there are few explanations for some of the nuances that tend to lead to scepticism, if not annoyance, in the black spectator. Being on twitter, you get to receive this scepticism first hand when, say for example on a Wednesday morning, a Springbok starting XV is picked. In it a tortured Francois Hougaard, playing at wing, wishing, hoping to play at his natural position, scrumhalf.

And the camera zooms onto the bench to find an obedient Lwazi Mvovo, also hoping, waiting, wishing for a chance to get into that number 11 jersey. Why pick a No 9 at 11 when you have a No 11 on the bench, I ask?

Will the transformation debate ever go away? For the sake of our sport, I hope so but until then, enjoy some excerpts on the matter:

 

  1. Why are the Boks so white? – Lloyd Gedye, Mail and Guardian
     

    White people and affirmative action. It seems so simple, yet so many white South Africans are still grappling with it.

     

A case in point was when ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe last week made certain comments about the number of black players in the Springbok team.

Mantashe was recently quoted in a Sapa news story as saying that there were several black rugby players good enough to play internationally and they should be selected for the team by Bok coach Heyneke Meyer.

The context of the comments was the conclusion of the South African Rugby Union’s transformation indaba last week.

One has to ask the question: Why did it take Saru 20 years to launch such an initiative? After all, the Springboks have been back in international rugby since 1992.

But getting back to Mantashe’s comments, they naturally caused a public outcry from white South Africans across the country as they scrambled to accuse the ANC leader of being racist.

A quick scan through the comments under the story, which was run on the SuperSport website, provided ample evidence of the vitriol that followed.

“Make everything black, let’s paint the field black and the ball too and let’s not allow whites to attend the sport, I swear this country can pull anything into a race war, what does it matter what color the players is, watch the sport and support the country,” said one ignoramus.

“Why are there so many black players and no white players in Bafana?” cried another, with what has become an all too regular response of white South Africans who cannot accept the need for affirmative action in sport.

But what infuriates me the most is that the players whom Mantashe wants to be selected, such as Lwazi Mvovo, Siya Kolisi, Elton Jantjies and others whose names have been mentioned, such as Gio Aplon and Juan de Jongh, are all in the running for a Springbok berth on merit.

They are great rugby players who have excelled at different times for both their provincial teams and the Springboks.

These are not quota players; they are fully fledged Springboks who have earned their place among the elite of South African rugby.

click here for full article

  1. The development of representation – Clayton Redford
     

    I admire the fact that SARU is committing to the development of the game in South Africa but I can’t help but feel that we are looking at the problem in the entirely wrong way. Granted, SARU may do a great deal in the short-term future regarding development, but if one is to look at their track record the probability of failure is unavoidable.

     

To illustrate my concern, I put together the following statistics with regards to representation. I guarantee this will open your eyes.

2011-Mid Year Estimate

South Africa

Male Population

Non-white

Age

African

Coloured

White

Total

20-24

2 052 918

194 879

157 556

2 405 353

25-29

1 858 498

180 483

150 937

2 189 918

30-34

1 639 101

182 233

143 492

1 964 826

Total

5 550 517

557 595

451 985

6 560 097

% of Total

84.61%

8.50%

6.89%

93.11%

6.89%

*Taken from Stats SA’s 2011-Population estimate

The above table represents males from the three race groups which traditionally make up our rugby playing population. I specifically broke it up into the age group which plays rugby professionally, i.e. Ages 20-34. For the sake of comparison, I simplified the race groups into ‘White’ and ‘Non-White’. What this now gives us is a cross-section of the population which could, potentially, play professional rugby.

Currie Cup

Full Squads

2012

Team

Non-white

White

Total

Non-white %

Bulls

11

38

49

22.45%

Cheetahs

9

35

44

20.45%

Griquas

5

34

39

12.82%

Lions

9

33

42

21.43%

<-2 foreigners of colour
Sharks

8

34

42

19.05%

Western Province

15

36

51

29.41%

Total

58

210

267

21.72%

  *Currie Cup squad lists taken from SARU’s website.

In stark contrast, the overwhelming majority of Currie Cup players are White, 78.28% to be exact. Ask yourself this question, how does a mere 6.89% of the potential rugby playing population account for an astounding 72.28% of the Currie Cup playing population? To add to this, a great deal of the non-white players do not even start on a regular basis.

 click here for full article

  1. Why Ntini is disillusioned – Firdose Moonda, The Times

For more than a decade as an international cricketer he carried the hopes of the majority of South Africa’s population. Most of the time, he did that alone. He was even expected to continue doing it when he no longer played at the highest level.

Weeks after his retirement, Ntini was named a Cricket SA ambassador. He was going to receive assistance to start an academy in Mdantsane township, in Eastern Cape, which would become one of the best breeding grounds for black African players. None of that has happened.

With that in mind, whether or not some of the fault lies with Ntini, it is understandable that he has become disillusioned.

Development structures are producing black players. Evidence of that can be found on Corlett Drive, where the Highveld Lions fielded four in their most recent One-day Cup match against the Knights, but higher up those players are not being recognised.

Imagine if that had happened to Ntini. (click here for full article)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smoking not cool for soccer players

By Sbu Mjikeliso | 2012-11-16 11:23:33

I was dismayed last weekend when at the end of a Premier Soccer League match I attended, between Lamontville Golden Arrows and Maritzburg United , I caught a player smoking a cigarette in the parking lot as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

FFS!

I don’t mean “caught” in the sense that I’m the prefect and his the offending school kid. But the player (who I’m not going to name) didn’t seem to find anything wrong with what he was doing.

I’m not naïve; I know soccer players drink, smoke and generally do as they please with what they put into their bodies. But these half-fit miscreants give us half-baked performances because they don’t treasure their bodies. 

I know you’re probably thinking Johann Cruyff, Zinedine Zidane, Wayne Rooney, Maradona and, recently, Mesut Ozil all enjoyed the odd cigarette (Maradona enjoyed far more than just a ciggy) but that is no excuse.

Firstly, SA players hardly aspire to inspire us with performances that the afore-mentioned world stars, and secondly, they’d do well to learn the good habits of those players rather than mimic their bad ones.

ozil smoker

Ohh yeaaah, that'll hit the spot

It is the small things that must shift for the quality of our football to improve and for fans to return to the stadiums. I often hear about grand plans to transform our game but all those efforts will amount to piles of paperwork if the players (some, not all) don’t make an effort to be in peak physical shape.

Maybe the smell of ciggies (and often ganja) coming from the stands during Match Days is too good to resist that players jump from the showers straight to the parking lot to light one up and fulfil their craving. Whatever the reason, it must stop.

This is not an attack on smokers or on soccer players’ free will. But next time you see a soccer player labouring to a 50/50 challenge or struggling for air when tracking back to defend, think about what I said.

 

 

Oscar loses world’s respect but gains Joey Barton’s admiration

By Sbu Mjikeliso | 2012-09-05 11:35:10

No one likes a sore loser, Oscar  Pistorius knows this now. His outburst after finishing second in the T44 200m final to Brazilian Alan Oliveira has tarnished his image, barely a month after becoming the first Paralympian to compete with able bodied athletes at the Olympics.

London must be a lonely place right now for Oskido (if I can call him that); no one will listen to him, he got a silver medal instead of the gold he promised spectators through his record-breaking semifinal and no will let this thing go despite his apology.

I want to say to Oskido, I understand. The hardest thing to do is to convince people that you’re not crazy because the harder you try, the crazier you seem.

The early 1990′s were not only a time for political reconciliation in our country but were a time that saw a boom in street cricket in the townships (something which I seldom see any more).

In the section of Bhisho, where I lived, we used to play cricket under lights at night – before mom called us in for dinner – with a variety of (let’s call them) tools. Two black garbage bins were the stumps, a tennis ball was the cricket ball and a wide plank was the bat.

To cut this biography short, my dad saw our misery and bought me one of those Bakers Mini Cricket kits that came equipped with a real cricket bat, stumps and a (maroon) tennis ball made to look like a cricket ball.

One night my friends and I were playing and I was unfairly dismissed for an edge behind when it was clear that I had hit the ground and not the ball. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the DRS (decision review system) back then, or even an umpire for that matter, so to settle the disagreement, I took back my Bakers Mini Cricket kit and went home.

My friends thought I was a doos. I ended the fun for everyone. I went to my dad to explain that the fellas had given me out unfairly but my dad said I won the argument by taking the equipment away, and now I have no friends.

The point I’m trying to make is that Oscar was the darling of the Olympic world a month ago. ‘Fastest Man On No Legs’ headlines would repeat.

But he ruined it with one silly comment about: “Oliveira’s blades are longer than mine”. Boo effin hoo. It was sour grapes at its worst.

I have no doubt that Oscar’s complaints could have an ounce of merit. But why raise them after you’ve been smoked by a faster runner on the day? And why tarnish such an heroic image over one gold medal when you have a chance to get your own back against Oliveira in the 100m tomorrow or 400m on Saturday? If you lose to Oliveira again, which is a definite possibility, will you whine about … ehhem … difference in length again?

Oscar Pistorius

Not cool

I am no sports scientist so I cannot comment on the details of Oscar’s claims but, thankfully, Dr. Ross Tucker is and a widely respected one.

Tucker looked at each stride during last Sunday’s race and says Oscar is wrong about Oliveira having superior stride length.

He wrote in the Guardian: “So, since Oscar Pistorius has made a point to emphasise how long his rivals’ strides are I rewatched the race and did the obvious thing: I counted the strides.

It turns out that Pistorius took 92 steps during the race (2.2m per stride), and Oliveira took 98 steps to win gold (2m per stride). To break it down further: in the first 100m, Pistorius took 49 steps (2.0m per stride), with 43 steps in the straight (2.3m per stride).

Oliveira, on the other hand, took shorter strides: 52 in the first 100m (1.92m each) and 46 in the second 100m (2.2m each).

So, a simple count shows that Pistorius has longer strides than Alan, and they are consistently longer – on the bend, and in the straight, for those who are wondering. It’s Oliveira who ‘can’t compete with Oscar’s stride length’. His faster speed, then, is the result of faster leg movement, because speed, as you will appreciate, is the result of stride length and stride rate.”

I am not one to jump at a chance to criticise when a person makes a mistake and remain silent when they do something right. People who do that are the real dooses of this world.

I like Oscar. (Heck, we went to same school. I’m a year ahead of you lad. You probably waitered at my matric dance). I think he’s an inspirational young lad. He has put the funk in disabled sports. He didn’t make Time magazine’s annual list of 100 most influential people by a stroke of luck.

That said, I expect that sort of repugnant behaviour from footballer Joey Barton, not you, not the South African flag-bearer. Now go out there and get us more medals, we’re losing ground.

Heyneke’s Springboks smell of Div’s old socks

By Sbu Mjikeliso | 2012-08-27 12:56:56

IT IS time to swallow a dry, lumpy, spiky object and admit that Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer hasn’t provided the “fresh start” many were hoping for. The Springboks are stale and Peter de Villiers’s leftovers are starting to cause a foul smell in the (relatively) new coach’s fridge.

After going through a turbulent marriage with Div, when the highs were intoxicating but the lows suicidal, culminating into a bitter non-renewal of vows, Meyer was supposed to be everything the Springbok ex wasn’t.

But five matches into his tenure, some Bok fans are realising that Meyer keeps forgetting to put the seat down, wash his own plate or take out the rubbish and have started noticing other little nuances that remind them of the ex.

Div would never drop Morne Steyn, Pierre Spies or Bryan Habana when the trio were horribly out of form. He didn’t know what to do with the talented Pat Lambie in his squad (the trend with Springbok coaches is to bench or drop the talented ones and start the statues).

In 2012, the year the world is apparently coming to an end, it appears that the world is in fact carrying on as usual and a Springbok coach still doesn’t know what to do with the most enterprising member of his squad.

There was supposed to be some sort of ceremonious cleansing after the World Cup, it hasn’t come.

Four Nations trophy

Let's stop the competition right now, the All Blacks have already won it

Initially, Meyer did everything right and said all the sweet nothings when he was appointed, going all out to please everyone and getting everyone to support his “win every game” philosophy. It was refreshing to have a Springbok coach that didn’t have illusions about winning a World Cup in four years time and subjecting us to rubbish rugby in the interim.

Meyer is his own man. At the Bulls he did everything according to his style and made the club his Man Cave, where he could pick all the battering rams he wanted and forced them to play according to his style. And it worked.

But Meyer has yet to adjust to his marriage to the entire nation. He can no longer treat the Springboks as his Man Cave. Just a hint, there are uses for players in other unions other than the Bulls.

Meyer is a brilliant coaching coach but, as I quietly suspected, he botched the chance to give the Springboks a fresh start during the England three-match test series.

When the Boks crashed out of the World Cup last year, it was a painful, but the young talent that we had coming through the national team – that Div didn’t really know what to do with – made the pain easier to bear. There was hope of a fresh start.

I’ll acknowledge the inclusion of locks Eben Etzebeth, Juandre Kruger and flanker Marcell Coetzee as some sort of signal of newness. But on the whole, the team, especially in the lame draw against Argentina, smelt of Div’s stale socks, which I thought we threw away when Meyer was moving in.

Much like in the final two years of Div’s tenure, the Springboks made the process of scoring a try about as odious as getting a pay increase from a Platinum mine boss.

And what about set plays? Have we forgotten how to cut open defences with four quick, purposeful passes intersected with diagonal runs that confuse the opposition to a standstill?

I’m beginning to wonder what Meyer meant when he said the Springboks should play “winning rugby”.

By his definition WINNING RUGBY is the process in which a flyhalf should ignore all other avenues of attack, resist temptation to draw two or more defenders towards him in order to fling the ball wide to the wings, who will then enjoy an overlap, but MUST ONLY launch the ball high and aimlessly off his boot and hope for the best.

The worst is when this statue game plan cannot even eke out a win against Argentina in our most important rugby competition other than the World Cup.

I, for one, had dreams of the below combinations, being tested against England this year:

Forwards:

 

  1. Heinrich Brussow     7. Willem Alberts           8. Josh Strauss

or    6. Francois Louw             7. Marcell Coetzee         8. Willem Alberts

or    6. Keegan Daniel            7. Willem Alberts             8. Pierre Spies

 

Understandably, injuries to Schalk Burger and Duane Vermeulen soured things but as a proud rugby nation, we can do far better than Jacques Potgieter. No offence bruv but there’s no space to take a run-up in test rugby and without a run-up Potgieter is as useful a Brutal Fruit cider when you really need a beer. I wonder, if Meyer has any regrets, now that Siya Kolisi is out for the rest of the season because of a broken thumb he sustained in the Currie Cup when he should have been in Argentina stopping Julio Cabello from getting his paws in our ruck. Moving on …

 

Backs:

 

  1. Ruan Pienaar          10. Pat Lambie                        12. Frans Steyn                                        13. Juan de Jongh

    11. Francois Hougaard                       14. JP Pietersen

                                        15. Zane Kirchner

or

            9. Francois Hougaard

                          10. Pat Lambie

                                     12. Jean de Villiers

                                                 13. Juan de Jongh

                           11. Bryan Habana                 14. JP Pietersen

                                                    15. Frans Steyn

or

9. Francois Hougaard

                               10. Elton Jantjies

                                                 12. Frans Steyn

                                                               13. Jean de Villiers

                                 11. Bryan Habana                       14. JP Pietersen

                                                                 15.  Pat Lambie

And again, injuries to Jaco Taute, Johan Goosen (thank God he’s back) and (recently) JP Pietersen have done their bit to spoil the honeymoon.

Had some of these combinations been tested against England, we wouldn’t have been left not knowing what to do in Mendoza last weekend.

 

Note: Please add your own possible combinations that you would have liked to have seen being trialled and please agree or disagree with me in the comments below or on twitter @Sbu_Fundraiser.

 

Was Div right about Sonny Bill Williams?

By Sbu Mjikeliso | 2012-08-05 06:59:28

As Sonny Bill Williams celebrated his try by jumping into the crowd in his last Super Rugby game during the Chiefs’ demolition of the Sharks in the final, it got me thinking: What legacy has he left behind, especially in the mind of the South African schoolboy rugby player?

The New Zealand inside centre said his good-byes to his country and the competition last month, much to fans’ dismay and rage, for the financially luscious pastures of Japan before returning to Rugby League – NRL – in Australia next year.

But what is the offload king leaving behind?

Sonny Bill Williams

Will we see another deadly offload in the Southern Hemisphere again?

It was perhaps fitting that on the same day I watched the Chiefs gut the Sharks, I went to Pietermaritzburg to watch the old KZN school rugby derby between Maritzburg College and Glenwood High School – which ended in a thrilling 27-all draw.

I got some perspective.

On Saturday morning I watched Sonny Bill Williams create havoc in the middle of a Sharks defence that was valiant at first but started disintegrating pretty quickly. SBW, as he has been nicknamed, broke two tackles in the move that created the Chiefs first try – scored by Tim Nanai-Williams – before offloading, of course, to Robbie Robinson.

The Sharks, it became obvious, had thrown all their punches during the Stormers game and were smashed to all parts of Waikato Stadium. SBW, Aaron Cruden and Sona Taumalolo (also playing his last game for the Chiefs) the chief culprits.

Sonny Bill Williams jumps to crowd

Don't lie, that SBW jump into the crowd was totally awesome, right?

SBW wrapped up his enthralling contribution to the match, Chiefs and indeed SANZAR rugby, by diving through untouched and throwing himself to the fans, who hugged him and thanked him for his contribution.

But that contribution came under heavy scrutiny last year when one man called Peter de Villiers was Springbok coach. De Villiers was quoted as saying, about SBW’s show-offy and outrageous ball releases during tackles:

“He’s doing everything wrong what rugby principles require of you in the game.”

“Backhand passes shouldn’t be the norm… it has become the norm, now everyone wants to do that kind of nonsense.”

“This kind of non-rugby stuff he’s doing, if it comes off it’s brilliant, but do you have control over these kind of things? If you get to the international level where people work you out, then you have to be in control of what you’re doing.”

Div said a youngster watching SBW in Super Rugby would get the wrong impression of the core skills needed. That’s Div for you, never one to nurse people’s feelings.

“I’ve got a simple reply for him [Div]. I am flattered that he would go to the lengths he did in dissecting my game. If I can change the face of rugby with the way I play, then so be it,” SBW apparently replied.

But was Div right? Or did he just want to ruin the fun for everyone?

To get the answer, you have to go to a school rugby game. As so I did.

I was lucky to catch the Maritzburg College 3rds vs. Glenwood High School 3rds and then the 2nd teams faced each other before the grand finale.

If one could have picked up anything from the fixtures, it was that the boys love throwing the ball around. Which of course they must. They are young, restless, fearless and careless. There were about as many knock-ons and turnovers from spilt ball as a result of failed offloads as there were spectators at the school. The referee’s whistle can get nauseating sometimes, so I was all too happy when the 1st XV’s ran onto Goldstone field.

The first teams promised more structured play.

Maritzburg College huddle

Maritzburg College 1st XV


I decided to be daring and count how many attempts at releasing the ball while caught in a tackle the lads made and how many they actually pulled off.

As if the Glenwood boys heard the voices in my head, they scored a 2nd minute opening try that was sparked by two brilliantly executed offloads and caught the home side sleeping.

Glenwood boasted generally bigger players – and I pray that they are all within the school rugby age limit – and therefore bossed the contact situations. Their players were taller, leaner and thus tried offloading more often than the College boys did.

The way I remember College, from my high school days, was that they never had the biggest nor the most talented rugby players but they played with a lot of heart and played until the final whistle.

College came back from 22-6 down midway through the second period to lead 27-22 before a late unconverted Glenwood try made sure that the boys shared the spoils.

My offload tally told an interesting story at the end. College attempted 12 offloads the entire game, ten of which went safely into hand while two went astray – one even created a gap from which a try was scored. Glenwood attempted 18 offloads and managed to safely secure half of them, the other half went the way of handling errors.

It seems that the most telling thing is that the “Sonny Bills” help the kids create gaps in midfield and if they succeed more than half the time then where’s the harm in trying one?

I saw more pick and go’s, something that Div considers “rugby stuff” than I did offloads. So let the kids be kids, I say. And if in the process we produce an attacking genius like Sonny Bill Williams, we would have done exceedingly well. But don’t dismiss Div as a grumpy old man, he’s got the interests of the SA rugby future at heart.

 

Glenwood High School

Glenwood High School 1st XV

One final thought, when SBW first started playing Rugby Union, who decided to put him at inside centre? Was it Tana Umaga? That man is a genius. 

Farewell SBW – current World Cup and Super Rugby title holder.

Catch my thoughts on rugby and other sports matters on twitter @Sbu_Fundraiser 

Super Rugby Final match-winners

By Sbu Mjikeliso | 2012-08-02 14:10:58

Super Rugby finals have, over the years, delivered scintillating spectacles. But one man uses the fixture for a place on the legend’s table and wins the trophy for his team.

The Sharks could do with a match-winner when they face the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday morning. Below is what you might call, the memo:

1. Bryan Habana – Bulls 20 Sharks 19, 2007

This encounter will always be remembered by the Sharks fans as the day Habana stole the Super 14 title for the Bulls. Substitute lock Albert van den Berg scored a try for the hosts with two minutes left of the game, ‘the fat lady’ has cleared her throat. However a young François Steyn missed an easy conversion, which would’ve put the Sharks eight points clear. After the restart, and across the final hooter, the Bulls mounted an attack that seemed to go on forever, until, to the delight of the away fans, Habana weaved his way through the Sharks defence to dive over for the score that took them to within a point. Derrick Hougaard slotted the conversion for the historic win.

Habana try

This is what heartbreak looks like, Sharks will want to wipe the tears vs Chiefs

 

2. Mark Gerrard – Brumbies 47 Crusaders 38, 2004

The Brumbies were explosive in this final and the fourth minute try by Mark Gerrard signalled their intent. 19 minutes into the encounter and the hosts were 33-0 up with Gerrard scoring his second of the match after winning a chase from a George Smith chip-kick. Two minutes into the second half Gerrard out-ran Crusaders Ben Blair from a Stephen Larkham kick though. “Big games are about taking your chances. We took everything,” Brumbies coach David Nucifora said after the game.

3. Daniel Carter – Crusaders 20 Waratahs 12, 2008

It was Robbie Deans’ last game in charge of the Crusaders as he was bound for the Wallabies top job. The Crusaders were out-scored two Lachie Turner tries to one and were 12-11 behind at halftime. But the boot of Daniel Carter shone through in a game that was a defence spectacle. Carter painstakingly slotted four penalties and a drop goal that took the game away from the Waratahs, who failed to trouble the scoreboard in the second half.

Dan Carter

He is the greatest

4. Carlos Spencer – Blues 21 Crusaders 17, 2003

He dropped a pass in the Blues’ in-goal area that resulted in a try by Crusaders hooker Mark Hammett. Other than that unfortunate moment he was sublime. This was his breakthrough season where he top scored 143 points throughout the whole Super 12 competition. It was his flair however that earned him hero status in this final. He matched Andrew Mehrtens for tactical kicking and distributed like a machine. He contributed four penalties and a conversion to the score line but was majestic in open play.

Spencer Auckland Blues

I used to love watching this guy play

5. Andrew Mehrtens – Crusaders 20 Brumbies 19, 2000

The Brumbies were in front by two points with three minutes remaining on the clock. Then referee Andre Watson awarded the Crusaders a penalty from 40 metres out. A composed Mehrtens duly slotted the penalty, handing the Crusaders their third Super 12 title in the process.

6. Will Genia – Reds 18 Crusaders 13, 2011

At 13-13 with just over ten minutes of the final remaining, you’re thinking a penalty will break the deadlock. But Will Genia produces a bit of magic. Crusaders spill their own ball, inches inside the Reds half. Genia, the opportunist extrodinaire, recieves a pass at first receiver, darts past a few Cursaders defenders and runs and runs and runs for 50 metres for the decisive touch-down. Cooper was there, obviously, to be the first one to embrace him.

Will Genia

go man go

 

7. Who can do it for the Sharks?

a. JP Pietersen – He’s turned on the style in recent weeks with damn good performances

b. Freddie Michalak – Destroyed the Stormers last weekend and it’s his last game for the Sharks, you can bet he wants to steal the show

c. Bismarck du Plessis – He’s Bismarck du Plessis

d. Willem Alberts – If the Chiefs can stop him, they’ll get close to winning, if not, someone if going to get hurt

Also see:

Super Rugby final match-ups

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