we will never know

I was 15 years-old when I realised I was better suited to play Shortstopper than Pitcher.  This was not because I couldn’t pitch.  On the contrary under-16 (or 18) provincial was already on the cards.   However two years of bad technique had finally taken its toll on my young shoulder and my vision of myself making it as a Pitcher heavily rested on that.

promising arm..

promising arm..

Back up a bit;

Way before dirt was invented; a very young Kate reckoned – given a shot – she could make it as professional baseball player, in South Africa (nogal). I know. I know. As you can see that did not happen; injury and other factors killed that dream before you could say ‘S-A-F-E’.

So, back to that pivotal day when I switched positions;

It all started in the second inning of our second game, where a victory would more than guarantee us a semi-final of a ‘big tournament’.  However, it was at this untimely moment that my shoulder gave in and coach forced the switch that was to change the direction of my career. I moved from first to the 6th position.

It was a game where our opponents were the favourites, and the most successful team of the tournament. A draw would not be our demise, but a loss would have us playing the “if so and so lose, and then we could…” No sportsman likes that game, not even a 15 year-old.

As the newbies of the event we were in way over our heads. And therefore needed something special to gain the upper hand. We our chances and hopes depended on dismissing three experienced 17 year-old provincial players would be key:  the first two gave us trouble, but the third helped us complete our most successful double play.

Backed into a corner of a full house (three balls and two strikes), she had to take the shot; and she did. A brilliant catch from first base sent her packing; from shot stopper I got my foot on third base, taking out the most lethal player on the pitch.  But our premature celebrations were cut short as the umpire screamed ‘safe’.

That was a game changer in more ways than one; ironically that’s the day Border Province selectors finally made that call. But not before we lost the game and umpire had the last say.

Despite what players, coaches or spectators may say at any given time or game, there is only one final opinion that can sway any game, which is exactly what the Springbok’s head coach, Heyneke Meyer boldly proclaimed following the Boks 15-29 loss to the All Blacks on Saturday:

“The ref is always right…..  If you start making excuses for your team then they start to make excuses. There were a lot of things that weren’t good enough even when we had 15 men on the field”.

In the short space of time that he has been in charge of our favourite sporting heroes, what have we learnt about Meyer? He’s a gentleman who refuses to take credit for anything.

Without fail, he will quietly shift any praise to the next man; and will not let another person take criticism when he can ‘gladly’ accept it, just as he did when commenting on Saturday’s game.

In what promised to the greatest contest of our time – the top two nations, fought with more heart and passion than ever seen before. One looking to end a 76 year-old monkey; the other doing whatever it took to keep the status quo unchanged.

However, the former fell victim to human arrogance, when in the 17thminute Bismarck du Plessis’ perfect tackle on Dan Carter denied spectators any hope of witnessing history, with the referees citing:  no arms. If it weren’t so dire, it’d be laughable.

A game changer – in more ways than one.

Since the incident, I’ve come across conflicting reports. The ‘loudest’ being the” Kiwis were the better side, anyway. And they were guaranteed a victory.’

From where I was sitting, I beg to differ. The SAffers’ dominating physicality could not be matched; at breakdowns they were supreme and the scrum contest was one way – Boks’ way.

The ‘victim’ tweeted “Nothing wrong with the tackle. Fell awkwardly and popped my AC joint which I’m pretty gutted about but proud of the boys getting the win” – Dan Carter.

IRB have since conceded defeat and admitted Romain Poite’s decision to issue the first yellow card to Bissie was incorrect.Their statement read “Just as players and coaches make mistakes, the decision was an unfortunate case of human error by the match officials, who, having reviewed the match, fully recognise and accept that they made a mistake in the application of law.”

In addition SANZAR has removed a red card from the disciplinary record of the hooker. This helps no one, let alone the Boks.

If anything, these outcomes show that the rugby body needs to evaluate how the same set of rules does not apply to everyone.

For way too long Ma’a Nonu has gotten away with rugby murder. And Saturday was no different. He received a slap on the wrist for shoulder charge on Captain Jean de Villers.

Unfortunately this human error is within the confines of this magnificent game, only.  In 2010 World Cup Fifa President Sepp Blatter had to apologise to the Football Association over Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal in England’s World Cup defeat by Germany.

Just like my legitimate but unaccredited removal of that youngster in my little league game, Lampard’s disallowed goal shifted momentum and had a fundamental effect on how the game ended, much in the same way that Bismark’s legitimate tackle was not only unacknowledged but unfairly judged.

Although my baseball team made it to the semi-finals by the skin of our teeth, unfortunately that disallowed goal forever altered England’s chances and they crashed out of the World Cup.

That is the sad outcome of these unjust judgements; it is not just the decision taken in that particular game, but rather the ramifications of the decision in terms of the overall tournament, as witnessed by our rugby squad on the weekend.

Forget history not being on our men in green and gold’s side.  Even World Rankings should not be taken into account. If ever there was a side to break this record, it was that outfit on Saturday.  But the point is that now we will never know for sure.

Nick Mallet summed it up accurately with his words, saying “this is an utter disgrace”. And unfortunately this is true when unfair judgements turn a game on its head. Like the umpire in my youth, Poite, despite his added advantage of having all the technology at his disposal, put the final nail in the historical Bok coffin, making an irreversible error in a decision that changed the outcome of a game which held the potential to make history.

We will just never know.

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women + sport = rivalry

From the day I started this page (late last year) I had an ally, one that (not only) faithfully read my post (but) saw them before anybody else – my editor.

You’ve often read posts mentioning my ‘sporting loving boss’. Actually she was not my boss in the very core sense of the word(because she didn’t pay my salary and she’s only two years older than me).

To this day I often wonder how Samantha Robinson and I got along. I guess it is true what they say – sport can unite even people destined for rivalry. (Okay that’s a bit extreme, read her post and you’ll understand). I have finally convinced Sam to be my first guest blogger.

Take it away Sam:

I am a woman and I love sport. I think this has something to do with the fact that I have a grandfather, father and two brothers who are sport mad. I have always been able to give good commentary on most sports (except rugby) and I always find myself gravitating towards the group of men talking about the sporting highlights of the weekend and away from the ladies talking about the shopping highlights of the weekend.

I thought I was alone and that I would always be one of the very few ladies engaged in conversions around EPL standings, the starting line-up for the Proteas and the F1 teams and drivers. And then I met Kate! When she started as my intern we were in separate offices so we didn’t chat much and then I walked into the office one Football Friday in my Chelsea jersey and life at Sabio Communications was never the same again

I must admit we don’t agree on most things sport. I am Chelsea and she is Liverpool (shame poor girl), she supports the Blue Bulls and I support the Cheetahs, she likes the Proteas and well – I don’t! So most of the time, especially Mondays, we are giving each other a good go. The only time we have been on the same sporting page, well sort of anyway, was during the World Cup. We both supported Bafana, we both had a big crush on Diego Forlan and we both admittedly supported Uruguay. We followed each game, whether on TV at home, radio and our computers at the office (before we convinced our boss to get a TV with DSTV) or Twitter. We were at the office together watching the 16h00 games not wanting to go home until we knew the result and we often found ourselves in our boss’ husband office having an in-depth conversation about the games, goals, results and players. It was safe to say we probably knew more than he did. And at the end of the World Cup – on Monday 13 July 2010 we sat at our desks and cried. Seriously. Two girls cried over the fact that the Soccer World Cup was finished. The rest of the office knew not to bring up the subject for at least a week.

Now we have the next big sporting event starting in a few days – the Cricket World Cup. Although Kate is no longer with us (how I miss you!) we will no doubt battle over Twitter, Facebook and BBM. Unlike the Soccer World Cup cricket brings out the worst in both of us. We become fiercely competitive. As mentioned – she is a loyal Proteas supporter (I swear the girl should be made president of the Graeme Smith Fan Club while I could make millions ensuring Kevin Pietersen’s legacy lives on) And I find it a bit difficult to support our boys. I have tried, trust me I have tried but I struggle. Throughout the series against India I found myself gravitating towards the Indian team. But in the final ODI against India where the series was tied I woke up thinking I will support the Proteas, I will dig deep inside of me and support them until the very end. I thought that this will be a good attitude change leading up to the World Cup. But as with the other games after a few a few over’s I could already feel myself siding with India. And this was when I admitted to myself that I had a soft spot for this Indian team (or any other team name that plays against SA) especially MS Dhoni (or any hot captain’s/player that plays against SA). Being a non-SA supporter I get a lot of flack, as you can imagine, especially from Kate and our friend on Twitter, Mel. Even Sias du Plessis from 5fm has commented on my ability to “stir”. I doubt this will cool down over the next month or so. My team for the World Cup will be England and seeing that they are not too far from being completely South African it is not such a bad thing hey? I have also decided that my other two teams will be India and believe it or not – South Africa (if they don’t play against England or India or my next soft spot team).

So as the World Cup nears, whether you support SA, England, India and dare we say Australia, enjoy it and remember there is nothing wrong with some healthy competition. (Go England whip those South Africans on 06 March)



Author: Samantha Robinson – Account Director at Sabio Communications

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!

as it were

Let’s face it – Sport as we know it is gone. The love we have for the game is tainted by so many reactions and choices from individuals we’ve idolised.

What’s with our soccer heroes gracing the pages of Rolling Stones more than Brangelina or our political leaders crippling the motivation to fill up Rugby stadiums? Yeah, sport as we’d like to remember is dead and buried.

Be it as it may, we still take our vuvuzela’s, brace the cold and give the ‘Ultimate Fan’ thing a go. Superbru is sky-rocking. Hell, Vodacom is still making as much money out ‘Player 23’ as with BlackBerry contracts.

Yes, we put aside the grating political influence, proudly put our replicas on and chirp the next person for not supporting same team. No one knows this better than me and my sport loving boss, who celebrates Football Fridays in blue, with a big Chelsea grin, while I (and the rest of her family) insolently proclaim ‘This is Anfield: I Will Never Walk Alone’.

And when we return to the office on a Monday conversations begin with Cheetahs vs Bulls. Yes we bury the hatches, forget Tiger’s infidelity, and stand oblivious to Micheal Phelps, Marianne Jones’ or even Bakkies’ stupidity.

We swear at government for their meddling, scream our lungs out at having to wave goodbye to the Super 14 only for a (long) while and will eventually forgive the Boks for their poor Tri-Nations campaign, because as exasperated as we may be by these, at the back of our supporting mind, the game is still as it should be. At least would be.

That is more than I can say for cricket, however.

The most popular game in the Eastern and Western Cape. A discipline that sees 7/10 Indian or Pakistan households fed is forever lost. Its credibility belongs only to the History Channel.

A land where 666666’s are the miracles of the game; The splendour of hat-tricks. A museum of super-overs. Sheer sanctuary of clashes between giants like SA, Australia, Pakistan, India or England that guarantee a spectacular heartache, but money’s worth for the avid lover of the game.

A history of unsung heroes ordained by roars of crowds with what seems to be more passion than from the ones in batting helmets. Yeah. That era has ceased with a vinyl and in its place are carbon copies of broken cd’s worth the bottom of a street kid’s shoe.

While some parts of the world have joined SA for the exciting Airtel Champions T20, trouble began to brew in England, who is busy with a series against Pakistan.

The series has produced allegations of match fixing by now suspended Pakistanis. Last week a cloud began to descend upon the English when injury-prone Andrew Flintoff hung his bat up for good.

This week assembled an even greater distress, when reports that they (England) are not above match-fixing. Of course this sent Andrew Strauss and his cronies over the edge.

However, we in SA know a thing or two about smokes and fires. Whether the allegations are legit or just that, allegations is another blog, but what this means is the series is now farce that needs to be scrapped.

Cricket is not cricket but rather a massacre of greed and lies killing dreams of many around the world. Hansie Cronje (R.I.P), it seems planted a seed that is growing like unwanted weed, producing a generation that has undermined the value of the game, paving a way for endless uncertainties.

Will we ever grace cricket stadia without questioning the legitimacy of the game? Will the great Tendukar be above our scrutiny? Is Rusty Theron’s great bowling a result of his form or a lost bet?

Can Shahid Khan Afridi reach a century and claim a MOM award without raising an eyebrow? Will James Anderson ever be allowed to have a ‘bad’ game? God forbid Mark Boucher misses a run-out.

May the Great Almighty have mercy on Graeme Smith in 2011, for we will raise more than a flick of an eyebrow should the Proteas emulate the Boks’ Tri-Nations Campaign.

KP tweet…twit

Kevin Pietersen brought the entire world to a stand still with a four letter word, displaying his gloominess over being axed from England’s limited-overs squad to face Pakistan.

In the process managed to accomplish what (not even) the death of a Tour de France champ Laurent Fignon couldn’t; removed Pakistan’s match fixing scandal from many sporting fans’ lips (if only for a few hours)

Eish Boet

Pakistan Cricket has been a worldwide trending topic since Bees Roux found himself facing a murder charge and fellow Bulls- Victor Matfield – became the first South African to claim a 100th test victory.

The news reached my distressed ears at 2:46 am, while hitting the club scene in Polokwane.

My team and I were celebrating our 2010 VSA Cup Silver with a fellow Jozi team (Quantum), who won the Gold in the men category, affirming once again that ‘Nothing Good Happens after 2AM’.

As I read the tweets, I firmly believed the Rhapsody barman had spiked my drink (this couldn’t be!). Just as convinced, was the company I kept – while showcasing why many have claimed BlackBerry users do not know how to part with their phones.

Only to have Sky News, Guardian Sport (etc) attest to the fact I had nothing to fear from the staff and coach’s tequila had not gone to my head, but Hansie’ name would be uttered once more.

Back to impulsive kevinpp24 (his twitter name). His tweet was there and gone faster than Bolt’ stride, but unfortunately the ‘retweet’ function, for the world’s renowned like the SA born cricketer, has proven lethal (if only KP’s kid was old enough to know who Justin Bieber is, he would’ve warned dad).

And like the sprinter his tweet grabbed ‘front-pages’ with more no balls than a Pakistan bowler as he confirmed:

“Done for rest of summer!! Man of the World Cup T20 and dropped from the T20 side too.. Its a f**k up!!

It’s not his exclusion from the team, than his foul-mouthed tirade to the news that, according to Neal Collins “will send shock waves reverberating through the England dressing room”

The news became an early Christmas present for a few South Africans. These included a lunch show DJ from one of SA’s popular radio station, who, if it were not for the co-host’s purposeful-distractions would’ve shared (to millions) his bed of roses over KP’s blues.

It’s no secret there is no love lost between the batsman and many South Africans, so one can be forgiven for assuming he will not be looking at his Motherland for comfort.

Although maybe he should; for his woes will only accumulate, not only is the English Cricket Board having a field day with ‘irresponsible’ twitter use, but rumour has it no county will touch the right-hander (his Surrey move is only a temp loan).

So much for ‘Proud English Cricketer’.