matfield and co. end sharks reign

Those who play SuperBru will testify that players rarely pick with their head when it comes to their chosen team, more often than not their heart dictates their choices. Having been playing for a good four years, I can count with 7 (at most) fingers how many times my vote has gone against the Bulls – (New Zealand tours are usually uncooperative). Continue reading

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.

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.

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.

absolutey. utterly. gutted.

It was destiny. That the greatest captain in green and gold would reach a milestone that only few in the world could ever boast about. These legends, of course, include SA’s incomparable full-back, none other than the retired Percy Montgomery.

I can vividly recall the week the world joined us, as we made a fuss about Monty’s acquisition.It was a first for SA, and we stood proud, in unity, celebrating the greatest of greats.

No one was as pleased as my pastor, Rev Dave Gernertzky. Monty’s boot became a feature in Sundays sermons for an entire season, his love for Monty knew no bounds.

This was it for Smity, this was the moment we will tell our grandkids about. John Smit. Jake White’s protege, the 2007 Rugby World Cup winning captain; would receive the standing ovation from over 94 000 fans as he reaches one of the greatest accolades in rugby history; his 100th cap.

Only God could have orchestrated this meeting, that Smit would earn his glory on home turf. And more fitting was that this would take place in Soweto, with more history than I dare remember.

That FNB Stadium, worldly know as Soccer City – the stadium that hosted the battle between Spain and Netherlands for the ever contested Soccer World Cup Trophy – would host this phenomenon. It was just meant to be.

I can only imagine the atmosphere at the Smit household the morning of this event. One can only envision what was going through the man of the moment’s head during the captain’s run.

Was he calm? Was anxiety the main factor? Or just plain excitement and pure pride? Did the opposition matter at all or only just the reason why all the attention is on him?

Having gone past old City only two hours before kickoff, the atmosphere was electrifying, only I wasn’t to experience it to its core, Dros Pub it had to be. Dressed in my ‘Body Classique Personalised Bok’ jersey I joined the predominant male species.

As he (Smit) walked in ahead of his mates, I’ve never been prouder. I’ve never seen a nation more proud. This is our boy. This is not only his day, but OUR day too.

As we stood, I swear the balding man across our table’s stained-with-tears-face reflected Smity’s. We raised our beer glasses (ok mine had something else), lumps in throats, there really were no words.

By the end of the first half, it seemed the Boks would (prematurely) hold the Kiwis from claiming 2010 Tri-Nations (Not today Haka boys, Schalla and (Juan) Smith’s play demonstrated such).

Title lost to the Boks, pride was on the way and Smity would get his day with absolutely no hindrance, for it is meant to be.

And then, *sigh* then two minutes remaining, it all went sour, particularly for Smit as he missed an all important tackle that simply crushed an entire nation.

Blackstars’ humiliation at the hands of Suarez surely was not this excruciating. Bafana’s crushed dreams by Uruguay was somehow expected. But this? It couldn’t be! Surely Nigel Owens blew his Welsh whistle a tad bit early.

Someone tell him his watch is wrong! Tell him Smity has paid his dues and he has a legitimate claim! Play on! Somebody! Anybody…?

It was all over. Smity wasn’t to reign (Not today Ole Ole boys, Richie McCaw’s grin seemed to say), like Monty’s 19-0 defeat, they will be no victory.

What was suppose to be the greatest day of his life turned into an ‘I will be disappointment for a long time’ (Smit, at a presser’) Maybe Sharks victory was for their captain, but man, if ever there was an irony…

Pierre Spiers summed up the day with this tweet:

“Not nice but that’s sport…we leave it all on the field. Proud of our boys and well done to the All Blacks. Well done John Smit you legend!”