vapor in the wind

Professional sport. The life of a chosen few. A glorified manor that a selected need not magazine pictures, blogs or someone’s mother to get the idea, but live to tell many tales of its existence. That God-given, though not always driven, rare talent that cannot be confused with ‘luck’ nor could it be pinned down to just ‘hard-work’.

Often a sanctuary of success, a dream come true stature. The real ‘Fast and the Furious’ franchise, the nature of rock and roll. The life. The tragedy. The tragedy of a flower quickly fading; here today and gone tomorrow.

Only just over a year Tiger Woods was the number golfer. 2008 Olympics Michael Phelps was the pot-head hailed king of the pool. The fall off Zinedine zidane. Troublesome Joost van der Westhuizen, Herschelle Gibbs…and and…


Monday July 4th, while many Americans caused havoc (much like we South Africans do on December 31st) ATP tennis rankings were released and confirmed Novak Djokovic as the new world number one. After the Serb’s 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon finale.

No surprise (of course), considering he was already guaranteed to move ahead of the Spaniard following his semi-final defeat of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

What this means though is that Nadal’s 56-week rein since he took over from Roger Federer in June last year is over and now the 2008 and 2010 champ is merely a forgettable number two.

Yeah sure he vows to hit back and probably will, but that’s a story for another day. What is quite unnerving is Serena Williams’ new standings. From world number one to 175th – her lowest position since 1997 – in just under two years. Yeah sure injury and illness kept her off court for a year, but slumping 150 places is something else altogether.

Once again I find myself at the receiving end of all that can be ‘fun-cruelty’ because of my affiliations. I don’t need to tell you that my rugby team of choice is the Vodacom Blue Bulls and their premature exit in this year’s Super Rugby meant one thing; find a deep hole and crawl into it – FAST.

I will fully admit, though I had hoped, I didn’t see the Bulls retaining the title this year. I sat at a cold Coca-Cola Park stadium to witness their kick-off to the Super Rugby campaign. A 24-5 lead into the second-half had me and many in Bulls replicas fooled into a coy that perhaps the new format will take nothing away from the two-year champions.

The 24-20 victory aroused many jitters… with that said the format, undesirable to many (count me in) did in fact save the Pretoria giants from one of the most atrocious season destined.

And a (less) memorable end for the brave Crusaders’ 100,000km journey. Receiving the raw end of the stick from kick-off, its a wonder this side made it this far. Devastation of the worst kind at home could leave any team disoriented.

However, Todd Blackadder’s men took the entire season with stride that had many pinning them down as ‘the team’ of the season. Making the 2011 finale one of fairytales.

Only four years ago the men from Queensland were the ‘minnows’ of Super Rugby. Who can forget the 92-3 whipping in 2007 at the hands of the Bulls? Now there’s an irony – this Reds team taking the reins from that very same Pretoria outfit. And in the process wreck the Crusaders’ hopes of an eighth Super Rugby title, in a finish that is only predicted in a book of fairytales.

Sure the Quade Cooper versus Dan Carter contest is always a ticket seller. Carter‘s drops goal skills taking on the lethal tactical kicking of the fullback will be mouth-watering any day. Some blogger (whose name and page escapes me) summed it up nicely:

“The Crusaders looked knackered and played like it”.

Classy and rugby genius he remains, but the All Blacks pivot lost this battle, as Cooper, with a little help from the other Wallaby – Will Genia – closed the book with a much anticipated ‘happily ever after’.

Well done Reds. Take a bow Crusaders. Reaching the final under such conditions is commendable.

With so much more sport coming up in the next few months – the Currie Cup, Tri-nations, World Cup and the return of the soccer season, yeah I’ll even pay attention to the US Open – I am excited to see what this season will unfold for these men and women in tracksuits.

Currie Cup picks:
Game 1: Lions v Pumas: Lions by 10

Game 2: Western Province v Griquas: Western Province by 13

Game 3: Cheetahs v Leopards: Cheetahs by 9

Game 4: Sharks v Blue Bulls: Blue Bulls by 5

Whats yours ?

happy ending. someone’s pissed off

November is an interesting month I would say. Never mind that it is my birthday month and that I put my student card away for good, but it has brought some interesting occurrences.

You probably had to (or know someone who had to) make-out with someone with more facial hair than Bruce Willis’ cranium. Thanks to Movember I have to wonder what would have happened if we were in the state of Taxes, with no gun permit.

Don’t get me wrong, some could have been worse; while I was embarrassed to know certain people, the cause was the only reason that kept me next to them, I am (still very much)glad it is over (though). I’m no prude, but I do like clean species especially within meters of my existence.

I’m tempted to say “I cannot believe its December already”, but I have been following the calendar, so this is not so astonishing. But if you haven’t -2010 is over!

The fairly-tale year for us South Africans has drawn to close. We hosted the biggest tournament in history and did it successfully. When many (England) questioned our competence to making a success out of the tournament of this caliber, we rose to the challenge, stood tall and our boys even climbed the FIFA rankings.

Yeah we had a few glitches here and there, but made a killing. Not to mention the many ‘firsts’ including 14 cards in final (13 yellow / a red) and Sepp giving us a 8/10 – not too shabby there mate. Question arises though – did we get our happy ending?

I mean with Louis Oosthuizen winning the British open and the success in the Commonwealth games (interview with Mark Randal). The Boks campaing. Then there was Graeme Smith who handed over the reins (well, some) to Johan Botha; Makhaya Ntini’s
retirement, Gibbs’ controversial book and CSA boot. Let’s not forget Kevin Pietersen’s…. Wait – he is English.

Speaking of which; England can probably answer that ‘happy ending question’. What’s with the atrocious World Cup campaign and now losing the 2018 bid to Russia?

Yeah you’d be forgiven for assuming they are happy to see the backside of 2010 but they might be able to redeem themselves in The Ashes (I’m sure I will blog about this in the new year). But did we have a good year?

We are still reaping the fruits of the 2010 World Cup (white elephants and all). We had a SA Super 14 final as well as a pacy, gripping Currie Cup. The world ‘parked’ at our shores for the Airtell Championships. Would you say we had the year we hoped for? Did you?

And me – well I’m graduating soon and as I type this (that was two days ago) I am off to Plettenberg Bay to live-out Matt 28:19-20.

Yes. It is that time where ‘Road LessTraveled’ comes to motion.

We didn’t have the ‘perfect’ start. One of our six cars wouldn’t start, later it over-heated only to break down after the head gasket blew up after Kroonstad to be towed to Bloemfontein. To which one of our dads had to drive to Bloem to give us a different car. We thank God for him. Lost time but no lives.

Was 2010 a great year? You bet! I’ll give you my ‘Happy Ending’ after this mission trip. Best be sure though -we have pissed Satan off!

a constant change

There comes a time in everyone’s life where things need to change – a new chapter to be opened. But the thing about new chapters is that the previous ones needs to be closed – completely. It really is just logic. It doesn’t matter how ‘big’ your legs are, it’s really not possible to have a foot in one door and one on the other. Or maybe it is possible, but it’s never the greatest of ideas.

Once Upon A Time

I wrote what I’d like to call my ‘very last exam’ this month and I am not as ecstatic as I thought I’d be.

It is a big deal – don’t get me wrong. If you know my middle name you know exactly just how much. A few in my family have crossed this path and hey look at me I almost stumbled but I’m still standing.

Reminds me of Liverpool really – a team destined for glory, stumbled and almost crumbled, but it is still standing (one leg will do). Lions rugby can attest to this; a new chapter is unfolding and the world cannot wait too see its manifestation. Manchester United are going through a chapter of their own – the draw chapter.

I can’t help but wonder what this means for our beloved Boks though. Two World Cup trophies later and hasn’t escaped scrutiny…all with valid percipience.

Slowly diminishing are moments when the men in green and gold posed the ‘to-be-feared’ factor. Times where the stands roared with confidence for their side will provide a spectacular performance worth their wallets (win or lose);

When the Haka was just another ‘song’ a tad shorter than the ‘Ole Ole’ from the stands; an era of Sharks and Stormers supporter stood tall, united behind the 15 with no reservation; a season I put my Bulls chirps away for my Cheetahs boss; a long period when our hearts no longer bled for Bafana, for the Boks have mended; a long forgotten era of convincing victories.

The richest history channel ever created.

SA has produced two Super 14 finalists, one can assume we should be unstoppable, for we have the best players all round. Pacy. Grippling. Coupling, with the greatest boot skills ever seen.

Currie Cup is one of the greatest tournaments in the world and yet today our national team scraped past Wales, failed to pay spectators with a ridiculous win against Ireland.

Yes, you can say something has shifted in the past three years. At this rate our boys are doing wonders for alcohol sales as you cannot watch a game without consuming a whole case of beer or bottle of brandy. Netcare 911 is probably on call outs for near heart attacks.

Blame the weather. Blame the system. Blame fatigue. Blame domestic tournament. Blame the line-up. Blame quotas. Blame it on methylhexaneamine (ah. my favourite new word)!

Put it on government’s interference. Oh wait… How about PDivvy? Oh yeah; there is the man (along with his staff team) who has been on the receiving end of this stick for his questionable decision.

With so many ‘once upon a times’, one thing remains – our love for this game. These men. This country. These colours. This flag.
Though the question stands – with less than a year before our World Cup title is contested. Will we scrap it or will the tails between our legs grow longer?

Right, pass me my Bok jersey

just a tad

Okay, so I left this a bit late and probably should be blogging about other things such as Chelsea’s defeat to my number one soccer love affair – Liverpool. But since I had a draft already, my Currie Cup blog would not let up – so here it is:

With the rivalry extending beyond the rugby pitch, we all could be forgiven for allowing the Currie Cup to take over our lives for an entire week leading to last week’s final.

Social media – particularly Twitter – buzzed two days after the authentication of the giants that will meet to battle out for the coveted 2010 title. Western Province rose to the occasion after (impressively) thrashing the Free State side. The Pretoria giants suffered an unconventional defeat at the hands of the Durbanites. No one was more distraught than me.

For Western Province @JustWP was birthed and @Just_Sharks for the men in black and white. As an avid Bulls, this was of no interest to me. “I will not be succumbing to this; the Currie Cup is over, fourth place is where it all ends”.

That was my tune for an entire week, but both twitter account controllers wouldn’t let up and no matter how hard I ignored them they kept appearing on my timeline. So I finally gave in and followed both accounts. Just Sharks was really impressive, he communicated with his followers and it’s a wonder he didn’t win the Twitter battle. Just WP promised to display all our names onto this banner/shirt (I’m yet to see that).

The day arrived and this Bull still didn’t know whose nest it should put its eggs into. So I don my Boks jersey, a symbol of supporting both teams. I reckoned SA rugby deserved a great deal more than my shattered Bull dream. After being shut off from the male dominated Dros Pub, with Paddy’s a bit out of the way, my co and I headed for the next best spot – Spur.

Sadly we missed L’lyod and Elvis Blue’s performance, but we were in time to see one of the best thrashings in history. My friend (I will meet him one day) Neal Collins bravely called the game almost perfectly. Not many (me included) believed Plumtree and his boys would do it.

Why would they (we), Cootzee’s men were stronger on paper and had a great season, but not much timing – it seems. As Super 14’s runners up this was to be Province’s day, but not taking the many three points opportunities add the many handling errors.

It was clear from the first half just which coast team wanted it the most. ‘9 years too late’, It seemed Patrick Lambie in and his youthful boot were shouting, as his side held the men in blue and white a tad bit longer from the gold.

The Sharks’ match-winning scoreline of 30-10 suggests the winners were three times better than the Cape rugby. They (WP) may have won the twitter battle, but it takes a hell lot more than a million tweets to win a war. A heart and soul make champions or you wait a tad. Just a tad bit.

Well done Sharks. You’re great. You make this country great.

legendary feet. legendary heart.

They say a legend is an old man with a cane known for what he used to do; that his accolades best describe him and gives his audience a reason to remember him. For years, and to no end, the Real Steven Pienaar will enter the book of class greats.

The past weekend was one of legends (at least what can be classified as legendary moments), and a few step-up to the scale.

These includes Kurtley Beal – a Wallabie that tore at the hearts of many Boks. The Lions roared louder than any bad Storm causing the biggest upset in 2010 Currie Cup (since Pumas embarrassed the over-confident Bulls), by thrashing Western Province.

Frankly, I wasn’t upset all, neither was The Star Newspaper’s Chief Sport writer – Kevin McCallum – who probably opened more beer cans than he had in his life. Cindy Poluta of Eyewitness News Sport kicked up her heels for her beloved Lions.  But the man of the weekend has to be Schillo.

Bafana Bafana has evolved under the guidance of Carlos, and seems to be souring with Pitso in the driving seat. The 2010 World Cup has left an impressionable legacy. My white boss actually won a ‘Name a Bafana’ contest against her brother and husband.

Yeah this inheritance is serving the white household, and on the pitch it was evident on the Blackstars / Niger clashes. The endless missed opportunities (especially against Niger) are an extensive concern though, and while Pitso may be a patient man, the Boks have shown the SA Fan Club is anything but.

Pienaar flaunted his escalating ball skills, hushing his critics and fueling the ever burning fire of his fan base by collecting the MOM award. The Everton man proved once again why he is SA’s greatest export to the English League and an avid midfielder.

While most players wouldn’t part with the ball in the ’18 area’, Schillo displayed his unselfish heart by sending one of those legendary passes to a man who, even though lacks composure (at times), deserves to be playing in the English soil – Katlego ‘Killer’ Mphela. Bernard Parker’s goal and the other five that should have been are a reflection of this Capetonian’s God given structure.

If I had illusions of making pro-soccer Pienaar’s jersey would probably be on my wall.

Ah Legendary Heart. Legendary Feat.