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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you have gone too far

England Rugby players should be safely tucked up in their comfortable beds by now, following a brutal Three-Test series in South Africa, which like all test series ended with its casualties on both sides.

A day after the Baby Boks were crowned World Junior Champions, cementing a bright future of SA rugby, our senior chargers walked on that wet floor, slipped.

With a 2-0 series victory over England, the third in PE on Saturday was a mere technicality. Only it was not. Stuart Lancaster’s men needed redemption. Heyneke Meyer needed validation. Certain players needed recognition – a recipe which was to make this match a tougher challenge than anticipated.

That still doesn’t justify sharing a 14 all spoils, which may be acceptable when certain English football clubs face each other; that can never fly when the Boks face anyone. Least of all the Poms. Yet, here we are….

winning boot

winning boot

When the stuff that hits the fan, hits the fan, we are a country that will not be satisfied until we find a reason for the cause and even better if we can single out a single culprit: enter Morne Steyn.

Usually the darling of South African crowds, Steyn was booed by some spectators at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium after a second-half drop-goal effort drifted wide.

Avusa Media Sport Writer Sbu Mjikeliso tweeted ‘#MorneSteyn deserves a lot of things (death, torture, getting dropped from the squad), but not getting booed by South Africans’. While Sbu has propensity for the dramatic, he makes a valid point: we have gone too far.

I have witnessed this ethos at Coca-Cola Park, home of the Golden Lions Rugby Union. My commitment to go to as many (Lions) home games as possible has become a regrettable vow each time an opposing kicker steps up.

Lions’ supporters (apologies to the few that don’t fit this coming description) in my opinion have very little sportsmanship. And the biggest disappointment of all is the Union Management’s somewhat ‘encouragement’ of this behaviour.

Without fail when Elton Jantjies or Jaco Taute take their kicking duties, spectators are reminded to be silent, while Brumbies’ Christian Leafliifano didn’t stand a chance. Neither did Beauden Barrett or any other number 10.

I have never been to Newlands, but I am told the crowd there is no better. In fact 20 year-old Ihaia West, a (young) Kiwi fell victim to this treatment only on Friday during their finals against South Africa. Despicable!

The Poms avoided a whitewash simply because the Boks were utterly poor. There is no getting around that. They made poor decisions, failed to execute well-grounded advantage. Saw the 9m mark a number of times only to be turned-over. Desperate and simply dire circumstances, with Steyn even worse than Jerome Boateng of Germany against Greece.

Having missed 12 of 22 kicks at goal and several drop-goal attempts during this series has undoubtedly given Meyer enough headaches. I shall not add to that.

Meanwhile, at 27:

• Fastest 100 points by a Springbok (8 Test matches, 3 as a replacement)
• Fastest 200 points by a Springbok (16 Test matches),
• Fastest 300 points by a Springbok (24 Test matches),
• Fastest 400 points by a Springbok (33 Test matches),
• Most drop-goals in a Super Rugby season (11),
• Most points scored against the All Blacks for a Springbok (31),
• Most points in a Tri Nations match (31),
• Most drop goals in a Super Rugby game (4) (in the 2009 Super 14 semi-final against the Crusaders),
• Most drop goals in Super Rugby (22),
• Most drop goals in a Super Rugby season (11 in 2009),
• Most penalties in a Super Rugby season (51 in 2010),
• Most points in a Super Rugby season (263) – Beating Dan Carter’s record of 221 set in 2006,
• Most points by a Bulls player in Super Rugby history (1,157),
• Most points by a South African and first South African to reach 1,000 points in Super Rugby (1,157),

These do not exonerate Steyn, just a reminder of who’s head you’re a calling for. While you may be inclined to say ‘drop him’, he has a number of times settled the arguments of who should wear the No. 10 jersey.

Sure, maybe this time, it should be re-opened. Patrick Lambie? Considering HM’s style he is well suited at 15, then there’s Peter Grant, Johan Goosen and even Elton Jantjies. This however is why you and I are not the coach.

Don’t get me wrong I do believe something needs to be done, maybe not as drastic as Sbu’s suggestion, but booing him is not the answer. No man or woman in green and gold should ever be subjected to such utterances by their fellow country man. This has gone long enough.

Once golden boy Bryan Habana was the recipient of such, with many putting pressure on those in charged to get rid of him, not so long ago. How soon we forget, because Habs seems to be on his way back to that sparkly status.

Funny, how the stalwart is on the receiving end of this again. I’m sure he hoped he’d gone past it, for he responded in the best fashionable way (last time); came back to win a game for the Boks against the All Blacks. This too was in PE.

Now there’s got to be a word for that.

now that’s how you put your foot in it

There’s never a dull moment where the South African rugby family is concerned. Family – now that’s interesting word. With all the squabbles, and, and… Anyway, following the Boks’ exit out of the Rugby World Cup last year meant that Peter de Villiers’ days were just about done. We’ve loudly said ‘and rightly so’ to that.

images

With Gert Smal out of the race, last week saw ‘rumours’ of Heyneke Meyer being the ‘only’ available candidate surface. Pundits dubbing him the only name even worth mentioning. In fact, come this Friday SARU were (expected) to unveil the man at the helm of the Blue Bulls franchise to be taking the reins from P Divvy.

Other sports have succeeded in drawing attention as expected.

The ever continuous cricketing debate on whether Graeme Smith deserves a spot in the ODI outfit, and more so after his 125 knock on Sunday, gave one lot to blog about.

I have never made secrete that I am quite fond of Smith. Someone once called me the ‘president’ of the Biff fan club; and so this is one debate I chose not to get involved in, as I didn’t trust my objectivity.

Football was also up there, creating detractions, despite that it wasn’t a particularly good weekend in the football front either, as complacent Liverpool failed to go past Bolton. How the Reds could fancy a Champion’s League spot when we concede three goals to a team on relegation doors is beyond me? It is still a long way to go, but I for one am concerned. The ‘axe Kenny’ notions just about added to the misery.

Yes, football and cricketing challenges are a given; but who could’ve thought the Pretoria giants would be giving me something to blog about long before the season starts?

One of the many things we see in this industry is what we call ‘an epic’ fail. And my beloved Bulls have succumbed to this fate. At least their PR department has, with the release of an official statement on the issue of Heyneke Meyer and the Bok coaching job.

Statement reads:

“At a meeting called by SARU, on Tuesday, 24 January 2012, with the Blue Bulls Company’s Board of Directors, SARU informed the Blue Bulls Board of their intention to offer Heyneke Meyer the position of National Coach.
The Blue Bulls Board reiterated their position that Meyer is under contract with the Blue Bulls Company and had appointed Meyer as Executive Rugby, only after an undertaking and commitment by Meyer to lead Blue Bulls rugby over the next four years.

It is the Blue Bulls Board’s position that it would not be in the Blue Bulls interest to release Meyer after many resources and commitments have been made in order to enable Meyer to fulfill his mandate.
Should Meyer however decide to accept the position of National Coach, he needs to inform the Blue Bulls Board of his decision to abdicate his responsibilities and commitments to the Blue Bulls.

Although the Blue Bulls Board would be disappointed with such a decision by Meyer, the Board has faith in the coaching structures under the leadership of Frans Ludeke in taking the Bulls into the future.”

Now that’s what you call a Bulls Eye! That cat is out of the bag, so what could Oregan Hoskins be hoping to tell the world on Friday?

Imagine this tweet foretelling Friday’s main course: “Wouldn’t it be funny if Friday’s SARU press conference comes around and a beaming P Divvy walks in as says he is staying on?” courtesy of @BrookeBack13

I had (high) hopes that this season’s new kit would be the only thing that would prompt the words ’embarrassing’ from the Bulls;

And that folks is a lesson on how you rightly put your foot in it!