beginning of an error

Sport, like life should be simple. There are rules and we play by these rules, achieving outcomes based on our abilities, playing the game fair and square. See what I mean?  Simple. But perhaps that is just my naive way of looking at things.

After all, where humans are involved, there is room (sometimes too much room at that) for human error and even more room when it comes to bending the rules to achieve an outcome which does not wholly reflect the true situation.

And this was never more so than the situation between Golden Lions and Southern Kings.

Admittedly, the Lions were dealt with a rather unfortunate card. And with tails between their legs, they walked a rather embarrassing journey to collect an elusive ‘fair card’. It was never going to be pretty.

All because someone at decision making level screwed up, royally. There’s no getting around that. If job appraisal depended on this situation alone, then SARU should be without an NB member, end of the year plan.

What we we’ve learned is one valuable thing, there’s no accountability from our leaders. Ones who promised the Eastern Cape body a three-year deal, then turned around and withdrew that card, like it was never in play, without considering the obvious implications.

Trending on my Twitter timeline, minutes after the hooter on Lions’ 23-18 loss to Kings, #EarnedNotBought, obviously Johannesburg based franchise fans know something we don’t.

Lions Back

It is not the obnoxious manner in which they created and easily played this tag that makes me shake my head, but rather the lack of grasp of what relegating the Kings really means for South Africa.

Sure, our rugby will survive a couple of seasons, however the global image is forever tarnished and that’s not even the most significant part. The greater tragedy is the implications for a country that has come this far in terms of any form of development.

SA’s most successful Super Rugby franchise – Blue Bulls – average a 29 000 in crowd attendance this whole season. Stormers the greatest carriers with 33 000 in numbers, while Sharks did not even get above 19 000. At 31 500, Australia’s Reds just nick the Kings troops by 500. A telling picture.

Sure the Lions have reclaimed their Super Rugby status, because they, well, earned it. Never mind losing at home to a team that came last in this year’s competition.

Considering the amount of players gone to greener pastures, this factor gives a clear indication of where they’ll end up, come 2014. Yet you have the loud roar of “yes we are better”. Of course you are, despite tying the series one piece a side.

Let’s face it; the Eastern Cape franchise was doomed from the start. They were brought into the highest level of rugby in our generation prematurely, an aspect fully accredited to that accountability factor I mentioned earlier.

Kings Exit

This current plan is worse than putting a wound on a broken leg and being given marching orders (literally). Lions will not escape unscathed. Whether they’ll admit it or not, they are in the same position the Kings were in only months ago. Only they have ‘experience’ to worsen the matters. We wait…

A good mate of mine asked; “Kate, you support the Bulls, so why the fuss?”

The point is I’m an Eastern Cape child first, before a rugby fan. Choose to see that however you choose. I do hope you do not misunderstand though.

I came across a Tweet from someone who seems to get it; reason known to him, he deleted the post and for that alone I shan’t mention his name.

This must be the saddest day in SA rugby history – I played during apartheid, this is nothing compared to that” (sic)

As a late 80s kid, I will not profess to have lived through the dark times of this country. So what is he trying to say?

I enlisted the help of someone who could possible phrase this better than any 140-characters-limited post:

“As disappointing as it is to have your provincial team knocked out of the Super Rugby competition, the slight positive side is knowing that the team demonstrated that the region does belong in this competition.”

“The Kings were seldom overwhelmed by the task of playing among the elite provincial unions in the Southern Hemisphere. In fact, they played as if they had long been in those echelons. Hardly has a team made a better debut in Super Rugby than the Kings, not even the Western Force (2006) and the Rebels (2011) had better introductions to this level.”

“Yet here we are, and here are the Kings out of Super Rugby – a glimmer of hope of playing Super Rugby has been dimmed for an Eastern Cape child that is being nursed at an Eastern Cape rugby academy.”

“As a product of the EC, I weep for that child”Sbu Mjikeliso Avusa Media Sport Journalist.

The Lions may have won the promotion-relegation 2013 fight, but the truth, in this situation, there’s no winner…

Just a beginning of long repercussions from a bad error.

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.

well…now that’s a first

It’s been an excruciating week…..well, for (some) sports fan anyway: Lions fans are running around with excitement (shame, who can blame them?). I, however, am in agony! Not to mention still confused as to what to wear on Fridays. I work for a sports organization, so supporting ‘Magnificent Fridays’ is sort of expected..

Okay fine, I don’t mind one bit. In fact I look forward to Fridays (even if they were a lot easier a couple of weeks ago). It’s just that my problem is having to settle on a decision of what to wear. Despite the fact that my gender are often (rightly) accused of having this dilemma, my challenge is entirely different…as you may have imagined.

I went to watch the Proteas receiving a whipping at SuperSport Park, Centurion on Wednesday – thank you Cricket SA – and today I’m wearing their top. It should be simple enough. But before this, I had my Bulls top on for a whole two minutes this morning. Then, doubting my choice, I changed. See what I mean? Confused.

Then to complicate things further, there are the Bok jerseys. I have to admit that it is exciting to see so many SAffers in Bok jerseys. It makes me realize that SA Rugby will flourish. We will be holders of that cup in no time. The timeline will solely depend on SARU and their selection of new leaders. For now: we move on and I’m moving on.

Although I think that I haven’t cried enough, I have stopped. Besides I have got other things to smile about (move over clothing dilemma).

For one, I got that tattoo I’ve been screaming about; I got a great job (call me the new girl at SASCOC) and just the other day I got my car. You’d think that for someone who’s been an employee since 16 I would’ve been a wheels’ owner ages ago, but nee, I had other ‘priorities’.

Like how many piercings my body can hold, of course much to my mom’s delight (clearing my throat here) – who by the way has no knowledge of said tattoo, ‘Christ Forever Reigns’, forever indelibly printed on my rib-cage… sigh… interesting December holidays await…

she shall be called Xena

Anyway back to the new car; I got the Ford Figo 1.4 Ambiente…she shall be called Xena (my very own Warrior Princess). And the guys from Garmin) saw my potential hapless situation and decided they couldn’t let an Eastern Cape girl cruise the street of Jozi on her own.

So they are giving me one of their toys: a nuvi 1310 device worth just over R7.000! So for the next Month British accented Daniel (I didn’t name him) will be ensuring that I take the longest routes to find my way….I am hopeful 😉

A big thank you to Fraser McHenry and his team for this baby. I cannot wait to see if this thing is worth that price tag.

And while I”m saying my thanks:

I owe Mark Harris from Paul Maher Auto for the great service. Xena drives like a dream and my friend Barry-John Robinson for ensuring Mark and his team are not cleaning me out or just making a sale.

And most importantly Mark Biagi of Accredo Financial Solutions(Pty)Ltd for his work around the clock to ensure insurers give me my worth…well money’s worth that is. If you need financial service, give this guy a shout. He’ll make you rich….okay not really, but he sure can try :P. and seeing that his site is under construction – go ahead and email him – mark.biagi@accredo.co.za

daniel

Okay, cheers, gotta go and test this Daniel boy out.

Enjoy the games. Well done Wallabies. Gooo All Blacks! Goo Lions! And for the love of all that is soccer: Goo Man City!
#YNWA

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

the right time

Timing IS everything. There’s a time for everything, and every season has a reason. My pastor taught me – there’s time to be born a time to die; a time to plant and uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to weep and a time to build; a time to search and time to give up, etc. When asked for my Currie Cup predictions this past weekend, particularly which players will be avoiding eye contact with their fans, at Loftus Stadium, “without a doubt the Bulls will win”, was my immediate response.

Its no secret, that born and bred in the Eastern Cape as I am, I fly the Bulls flag every season and in between.

Yes, the Afrikaaners joint. Where flabby bellies, long blond hair and beers complete the design are where my loyalties lie (Give me a break! – The Border Bulldogs are not doing anything to change that. Might be a bit late for EP Kings).

This affair began in 2003 during a Currie Cup season (as a matter of fact). My cousin and I were watching a Sharks and Bulls game, and neither of us had a team (you could say we were holding onto the Bulldogs dream).

Anything blue in my eyes would go at the time and I’ve always been one for underdogs (well…). The Sharks tried first, immediately recruiting my cousin, compelling me to take the Bulls (who lost that game) and I have never looked back.

My (what some call blind) faith with Frans Ludeke’s men is mainly influenced by timing. Throughout the years I’ve learnt to accept Bulls and their structure that confuses me at times.

This is a team that has painted tears of joy and other kind (a time to cry and a time to laugh). I’ve endured endless chirps for this team as much as I have for Liverpool, I’ve sat alone in a house full Stormers, Sharks, Cheetahs and Lions supporter, but my love for this team has yet to waver.

The Sharks have been called the lesser evil, I’ve seen Cheetahs supporters take a Stormers corner before my beloved cows (courtesy of a Yanky friend), but I’m yet to shift (I have threatened to hang my Reds jersey – once, but not my Bulls’).

Why? – Timing! The Blue Bulls have mastered the art of timing. You can always count on the Pretoria side to win that crucial and oh-so-imperative-game. Last week was exactly that. The Do-or-Die. An obligatory event; one that demanded (along with the stands) a victory, when nothing less would do.

Why? – Timing. Which is more than I can say about Siyabonga Nomvete, who missed a penalty that ultimately handed Orlando Pirates millions of Rands. Eight millions to be exact. It seems Bhele is following Gyan’s footsteps, only he doesn’t have most of Africa in tears with him.

Timing Bhele. Timing.

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.