The rugby administrators are colour blind

The rugby administrators have become colour blind and can’t see that all the yellow and red cards are destroying the integrity of the game. The player’s safety is undoubtedly the most important aspect of rugby but the matter needs to be addressed to protect both the integrity of rugby and the players. It no longer is a case of the best team winning the match, but which teams concedes the least cards at the discretion of the referee.  The Super Rugby play-offs are the best example of how cards have influenced the results of games. The Lions were heavily favoured by the yellow cards in both the quarter- and semi-final matches. In fact, it would be fair to say that the two yellow cards against the Sharks and Hurricanes secured them a final berth. In the final it was ironic that the very same system, a red card in the … Continue reading

A sure threat to the sustainability of professional sport

As if to drive home the point of last week’s E-column (“Is professional sport sustainable?”), French football giants Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) are poised to sign Brazilian forward Neymar from Spanish champions Barcelona for a world record transfer fee of €220 million (or just over R3,5 billion – let that sink in for a moment…). This imminent transfer more than doubles the previous record.  Neymar will complete the move on Friday after he personally paid the transfer fee to Barcelona to trigger a so-called buyout clause in his contract.  According to various media reports, Barcelona confirmed that Neymar’s lawyers “made the payment of €220 million in the player’s name” to release him from the five-year contract he signed just last year. In Paris the news was met with great excitement.  The leading French daily, Le Parisien, devoted the first five pages of its Thursday issue to Neymar’s impending arrival. Even the … Continue reading

Is professional sport sustainable?

In December 2002 the Australian-born Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Corporation, wrote a very interesting column on his thoughts about professional sport as we knew it then. He was critical of the way professional sport was being managed and its economic demands on society. His punchline was that it was difficult to see sport surviving the professional era. This was interesting coming from a man who had a vast investment in professional sport through his media empire. At first I thought he was being hard on professional sport, but as the years have passed there is no doubt that there are signs he could be correct and that professional sport is becoming a monster in certain areas. The honour of playing for your country or province and representing your community no longer exists today. Communities and fans today are irrelevant in professional sport as it is about creating wealth for … Continue reading

The art of batting and T20 cricket

The Proteas’ drubbing of England in the second Test Match at Trent Bridge in Nottingham was absolutely remarkable.  On 9 July their heads hung in shame at Lord’s after a 211-rum thrashing at the hands of new captain Joe Root’s England side.  Eight days later, the shoe was on the other foot and England received an even bigger hiding at Trent Bridge – by 340 runs. England’s performance was roundly criticised by all and sundry.  The back page of the Daily Mail the following day screamed “You Shockers!”  Former international players like Nasser Hussain, Ian Botham and David Lloyd harshly criticised England’s batsmen in particular.  Michael Vaughan even got involved in a war of words with Root.  According to Vaughan the way England had batted showed “a lack of respect about what the Test game is,” to which Root responded: “I think that’s very unfair. To be honest, I can’t … Continue reading

Lions tour of New Zealand was iconic

The British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand was iconic. It must be the most difficult tour any international team has ever undertaken. They played ten matches winning five of them, losing three with two draws. The statistics do not do justice to the tour, as the All Blacks are probably the best international team the world has ever seen. Also, the Lions played the five franchises and not the provinces as in the past. Importantly they drew the series with the All Blacks and became only the second Lions team not to lose a series in New Zealand in 129 years. The Lions of 1971, captained by John Dawes, is the only Lions team to have won a series in New Zealand. Warren Gatland must be given full credit for managing the Lions through what was a high profile and demanding tour on the field. It could have … Continue reading

Tough assignment awaiting Proteas

Proteas coach, Russell Domingo, recently said that a tour to England is always something “you want to be a part of”.  But the Test series will be a very tough assignment considering the circumstances leading up to the first match at Lord’s. The last Test series in England was in 2012.  South Africa had a settled side – eight players were also part of the historic 2008 Test series victory and the likes of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis were in their prime.  They also did some serious planning, including a camp in Switzerland under the guidance of South African-born adventurer Mike Horn.  But most importantly, the Proteas had a massive incentive:  to claim the Test mace. This time, just about everything is different from 2012.  The stakes are not so high again.  Even if South Africa wins the series 4-0, they will not be able to move from their … Continue reading

South African rugby has no context

The first big rugby match I attended was as a thirteen year old in 1968 when Tom Kiernan’s British Lions played Griquas in Kimberley. From that moment, I was hooked on the game of rugby and became addicted to it when Griquas won the Currie Cup in 1970. I have followed South African rugby for nearly fifty years and watched over fifty Test matches live during this period. Today, I have lost my appetite and passion for rugby as a whole, also my patriotism for the Springboks as there is just too much rugby with no context. Let’s start with Currie Cup, the oldest domestic competition in world rugby. It has served South African rugby since 1891. The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has destroyed this high profile competition with the enlarged Super Rugby. The Currie Cup is crammed in at the back of the season and played without the … Continue reading

Teams announced for the T20 Global League

After weeks of speculation, Cricket South Africa (CSA) on Monday this week finally announced the owners of the eight franchise teams for the inaugural T20 Global League (already assuming the abbreviated moniker T20GL in media reports).  It signified a momentous step forward in establishing CSA’s own global T20 event. At a glitzy event at London’s posh Bulgari Hotel (it is a little baffling that an announcement of this magnitude should be made in England and not South Africa), the bases for the franchises and their respective South African marquee players were also announced. The significant features of the team ownerships are an expansion of current Indian Premier League (IPL) and Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchises and the minority of South African owners. Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan, who was announced as the owner of the Cape Town franchise, already owns the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL and the Trinbago … Continue reading

ICC Champions Trophy wrap

The ICC Champions Trophy Final on Sunday at the Oval will be played between the biggest rivals in world cricket: Pakistan and India.  Once again Pakistan, known for their giant-killing acts at ICC tournaments, stood up from the dead to easily beat England in the Cardiff semi-final. The final will be a great occasion between two bitter rivals of world cricket. India will start as favourites because it seems as if this Pakistan team feels inferior to their Indian counterparts who are rock stars in world cricket and in their own cricket mad country.  India has the stronger batting line-up with more experienced match-winners and is the defending champions. However, on the day any of the two can win and Pakistan is known to win tournaments from the dead. Remember the 1992 World Cup in Australia… For the ICC this is a dream final, especially for their sponsors who are … Continue reading

Cricket agency in South Africa in 2017

2013 represented a nadir for agents in the American professional football league, commonly known as the NFL (National Football League).  The general consensus was that there were too many agents in the game (861 to be exact!), that the agents were undermining the authority of the NFL and the 32 teams – often to the detriment of their own clients – by taking many of the stalled contract negotiations to the media, and that they were no longer seen as part of the NFL establishment.  As a respected agent of 41-years standing, Leigh Steinberg, described it, we were seen as “lampoonish, cartoonish, greedy, and destructive to clients and our sport itself”. The NFL’s veteran agents put their heads together and gradually dragged the agency business out of its self-induced morass.  They recognised that the true battle in their sport ought not to be labour versus management.  The real opposition for … Continue reading