What about former All Blacks coach John Mitchell he should be involved with Boks

THE last 15 minutes or so of every Super Rugby game involving New Zealand teams playing Australian and South African teams is like watching Ground Hog Day, the Hollywood movie where every day is the same.

Consider last weekend when Kiwi teams ran in tries with abandon in the last minutes of matches when South African defences were flagging. It happened to the Stormers against the Hurricanes, to the Cheetahs against the Highlanders and the Bulls against the Crusaders (discounting the Bulls’ two against-the-run of play tries at the end of their game).

It happens every weekend and it happens every season, and of course, it happens on the international stage where the All Blacks soak up pressure for much of the game, a bit like a cat toying with a mouse, and then destroy the opposition.

Remember those great games at Ellis Park when the Boks under Heyneke Meyer traded blow for blow and try for try with the All Blacks only to sink without trace in the last ten minutes?

It is not rocket science and if our teams want to close the gap on their old rivals they have to replicate how they train.

And it is easier for that to happen than we think. Former All Black coach John Mitchell has made studying New Zealand training techniques a science. He spent time in his old homeland catching up on the latest systems in the game before he took up a position as head coach of the US Eagles.

The Americans immediately benefitted and have been dominating rugby in the competitions in which they participate.

John Mitchell lives in Durban. He has done since 2009 . He has made South Africa his home and he has made no secret of the fact that he wants to get involved in rugby at the highest level in this country.

Mitchell is not without his flaws. We know that the human resources departments were busy places at the Western Force (the team Mitchell got off the ground in Perth) and at the Lions (where he won a Currie Cup).

While nobody has ever quibbled with the Waikato man’s rugby knowledge, he has ruffled feathers by being a touch over-zealous in communicating with players. He has a history of calling a spade a spade. He takes no prisoners, does not suffer fools gladly and some players have not enjoyed his communication style, hence the player revolts.

But that was some time ago and those who know Mitchell well in Durban will tell you that he has been working in business for some years and has learned to handle staff differently.

But back to Mitchell and the systems that he has learned in New Zealand and which could be of great use in South Africa

.In essence it is all about training with greater intensity. In South Africa players scrum at about 60 percent of capacity, in New Zealand they do it at 80 percent. The same goes for lineout drills, breakdown work, and so on.

They train with greater urgency in New Zealand. They don’t stop for a bit of chit chat between drills. They get stuck in and train as they play. Sessions can be shorter but are carried out at full tilt.

Mitchell is contracted to the Eagles but he no doubt has an out clause. The World Cup in Japan is just over two years away and South African rugby is in a mess, particularly at Springbok level. Is it going to be sorted out this year? What are the chances of us needing a new coach before too long …?

Are there any world class coaches currently uncontracted?

Mitchell is a touch task master who likes winning rugby games and is not in the sport to win prizes for good fellowship, although, he has apparently calmed down on his man management skills.

He got the chop from the All Blacks for losing just one game – the semi-final against the Wallabies at Rugby World Cup 2003.

He lives on our doorstep and has the techniques and knowledge to improve the performances of our teams, notably the Springboks. It would be crazy if Mitchell does not get involved with the Springboks sooner rather than later.

By Mike Greenaway

Springboks’ draw for the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019

THERE are a few ways of looking at the Springboks’ draw for the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019 and you can either take the positive approach and take respite in the fact that the Boks should make the semi-finals or you can be a pessimist and say the Boks will have to create World Cup history if they are to be crowned World Champions in Tokyo.

On that last point, in the history of the Rugby World Cup dating back to 1989, no team has ever won the Webb Ellis Cup having lost a Pool game.

Well the Boks are drawn in Pool B alongside the defending champions in New Zealand, along with Italy and two teams yet to be identified – qualifiers from Africa and Europe, and both are likely to be cannon fodder for the three Pool B teams that have already qualified.

Let us be honest, with the All Blacks having won nine of their last 10 matches against the Springboks and with the Boks having won just four of their 12 matches in 2016, it is unlikely that the Boks are going to beat their old rivals in a Pool game in two years time.

You would have to be a betting man to put money on the Boks, or you would be betting on a change of coach at the Springboks and a re-energised Bok team under a world class coach.

So as it stand in 2017, form would suggest that the Boks will be runners-up in Pool B and that would mean a quarter-final against the winners of Pool A, and the form teams in that group are Ireland and Scotland.

If the Boks pull themselves together over the next two years, they might just beat Ireland or Scotland and make it through to the semi-finals.

Is that good enough for the Boks?

Well, it could have been worse. The Boks have avoided the Pool of Death, which appears to be Pool C, where one of Australia, France or Argentina will not make it past the Pool stages.

So are we South Africans going to be content with (hopefully) a semi-final finish or possibly a final against the All Blacks or are we putting our money on the Boks being the first country to win the Cup having lost a match in the Pool stages?

Again we are looking at form and it would seem that the All Blacks have a strong edge on the Boks.

Given the Boks’ woeful performances in 2016, will we have the same coaching staff in 2017? There are a lot of questions surrounding Springbok rugby two years away from the World Cup, and much could depend on whether the Boks win or lose the three-match home series against France in June.

In the meantime Allister Coetzee is the coach and he had the following to say from Kyoto in Japan where he attended the draw.

“As I have always said – to us it doesn’t matter who we are drawn against, because to win the Rugby World Cup, you have to beat the best teams out there,” said Coetzee.

“The pools consist of five teams each and history shows that you need to win at least three of your four pool matches to be sure of a place in the play-offs. We will focus on our journey towards the RWC 2019 and make sure we are ready and well prepared.

“We’ve been working hard since since the end of 2016 to ensure improved results from now on forward, with the Rugby World Cup on the distant horizon.

“If ever there was testimony of how the the gap between the top teams has closed, then we saw that at the over the past few months in the Northern Hemisphere. With New Zealand established as the number one side, there is also very little to choose between the top sides in the world, while the next batch of teams have to continue to improve.”





Europe 1

Playoff winner


New Zealand

South Africa


Repechage winner

Africa 1





Oceania 2

Americas 1





Oceania 1

Americas 2

by Mike Greenaway

Nigiri Law the book is meant to entertain the reader in the genre of black comedy, crime story / courtroom drama

The writer Barry Varkel describes the book at such

The genesis of the story-line for Nigiri Law came about as a result of a very weird divorce case I was involved in with a client who couldn’t really speak much English. Many a time after seeing the client, I would think to myself “this is really funny stuff, well to me at least”.

One Saturday morning, while trying to relax with a bottle of prescription medication after a gruelling week of fighting the good fight against the forces of litigation evil on behalf of my numerous insane clients, I started playing around with the idea in my head of perhaps writing a stand-up comedy piece about the case.

I started banging away at the computer keyboard when the pills ran out, and it kind of took flight from there. I sent some of the initial work to a lawyer mate who seemed to enjoy it. It was then that I realised it was very much more a narrative piece than a stand-up comedy piece. It was meant to be a short story only. Never a short novel.

Almost every odd Saturday morning, I would wake up early and bang out a segment. It probably took me about just under a year to finish it.

The story is a massive send up of the fallibility of the human condition when it comes to romantic relationships, the imperfection of the legal system and the genuine insanity of the lawyers and judges who participate in it.

It’s a way out and irreverent story that is purely meant to entertain the reader in the genre of black comedy, crime story and courtroom drama.

The book is available at Book Lounge in Roeland Street Cape Town

Johan Ackermann to build a winning Springbok team from 2020 to 2023 ?

Lions supporters will be saddened by Johan Ackermann’s move north from the Lions to English club Gloucester but for Springbok supporters it could be the best news we have had on the national front for a very long time.

We have all marveled at how Ackers took the nondescripts at the Lions when they were a non Super Rugby team and turned them into a “brotherhood” – a term the players themselves use to describe themselves – that contested the Super Rugby final last year and could possibly go one further this season on the evidence of how they destroyed the Stormers at Newlands last week.

Take a good look into rugby’s crystal ball and you might just see a Springbok captain holding aloft the Webb Ellis Cup at Ellis Park. In the background a beaming Johan Ackermann, the victorious coach.

It is not that impossible for the stars to fall in line in 2023 for South Africa as they did in 1995. In fact it is quite possible indeed. The Republic is well due a chance to host the tournament once more. Ireland are the other front-runners but South Africa have the infrastructure in term of Stadiums and as a heavyweight rugby nation have waited patiently for a second shot at the World Cup.

With respect to Allister Coetzee, I can’t see him turning his horror first year in charge of the Boks (four wins in 12 Tests) into World Cup glory in Japan in 2019 and while he is contractually bound to Saru until then, it would be a miracle if he turns things dramatically around, wins the world Cup and is retained as coach.

If we get a new Springbok coach at the end of 2019, it will surely be an Ackermann, who by that stage will be even better than he is now for the years he is going to spend in the Northern Hemisphere, learning from other respected coaches and indeed players.

There is virtually nothing that Ackermann can still learn about the South African game. As a player he was the oldest player to play Super Rugby at 37 years old (eclipsed in 2015 by Victor Matfield) and was also the oldest Springbok (37), Victor Matfield also breaking that record when he played for the Boks in 2015 at age 38.

He broke into coaching as the forwards coach for former All Blacks coach John Mitchell at the Lions and has had a meteoric rise at Ellis Park ever since.

When the speculation first broke that Ackermann had been offered the Gloucester job, he said: “It is a tough decision for me to make. I drive to work and this is my city, my country, my culture, my language. I am very comfortable here …”

But in choosing to break out of his comfort zone, Ackermann is acknowledging that he is not the finished product. He later said: “Like a player aims to play at the highest level, so does a coach, and maybe this is what I have got to do (go North) to one day coach an international team.”

Young Sharks prop Thomas du Toit summed it up neatly in a recent interview when speaking about his three-month loan to Munster in the South African off season. “It made me realise that we as South Africans do not know everything and they don’t know everything over there, so a cross pollination of ideas is beneficial for everybody.”

Ackers is the personification of humility. He will be open to fresh ideas and soak up technical detail in his time in England. We have seen how immensely respected he is by his players. They play for him and I suspect that the Lions will play their guts out to win the Super Rugby title this year for the ‘Meneer”.

It was evident against the Stormers. I have never seen Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit manhandled as they were Newlands. And the image of the game I will never forget was young Ruan Ackermann, all 21 years of him, leaning his face into that of Etzebeth (who had him by the scruff of the neck) and defiantly eye-balling the Springbok lock. A chip of the old block or what…

So there we have it. A wiser Johan Ackermann to build a winning Springbok team from 2020 to 2023 and the Webb Ellis Cup won for South Africa at Ellis Park that year. That is a dream that has a very good chance of becoming reality.

by Mike Greenaway

Who could be Bok Loose trio be for incoming series 2017 against the French ?

South Africa’s conveyor belt of quality loose forwards continues uninterrupted and for a Springbok coach there are often tiny margins separating players when it comes down to pencilling in the names for positions 6,7 and 8.

A lot, of course, depends on the game plan the coach has in mind and in the case of South Africa and its policy on selecting overseas-based players of 30 caps or more, there is the difficulty of knowing just what kind of form those players are in because you are not comparing apples with apples (Super Rugby v the Northern Hemisphere competitions). On overseas players, it needs to mentioned that Marcell Coetzee would surely have been picked had he not suffered another serious knee injury playing for Ulster.

As things stand now, with just five weeks to the first Test against France, Super Rugby has enlightened Allister Coetzee to the form players in the country and there is not a lot of game time for players coming back from injury to state their case. A bolter like Philip van der Walt springs to mind, and Daniel du Preez is barely back from a groin injury.

An addendum to the loose forward scenario is that Coetzee’s new captain could well come from the loose trio, and the captain needs be a guaranteed starter.

Let’s look at seven options and narrow it down to three.

Warren Whiteley

Pros: the Lions captain is a classic No 8 in how he reads the game and knows where to pop up to ensure continuity on attack. He is a hard-working, inspiring captain and a very good link between forwards and backs.

Cons: Whiteley had his opportunities last year at international level and generally did not step up. He tended to disappear for periods in tight Test matches. As a ball carrier he does not always generate momentum.

Duane Vermeulen

Pros: He was one of the five nominees for the IRB Player of the Year award in 2014, and with good reason. He was Coetzee’s first choice No 8 at the start of last season before injury struck. He is a robust ball carrier and a savage defender. He commands respect from friend and foe.

Cons: Playing at Toulon, we are not sure how fit he is. He was outspoken late last year about the problems facing SA rugby, which might have made him some enemies but at the same time it showed his passion for the Boks. It is difficult to find too much fault with his game at No 8 apart from his lack of genuine pace.

Siya Kolisi

Pros: He is a very good carrier and has the acceleration to take the half gap. His defence is top notch. He can scavenge for the ball on the ground, hence Heyneke Meyer’s plan to make him an opensider, and he pops up in that position occasionally for the Stormers. He now has experience on his side having been a Super Rugby stalwart since 2012. He has proven leadership ability. He has a very good work rate. He is a strong contender to captain the Boks – but he has to make the side first!

Cons: While he is an athletic carrier, he is not the hulking ball carrier that the Boks have boasted in their better years, for example a Danie Rossouw, Willem Alberts or Juan Smith. He doesn’t have the level of physicality some would want from a Bok blindside. Having said all this, a lot depends on the game the coach wants to play. Kolisi is not a strong lineout option. A bit like Whiteley, he did fully take his chance at Test level last year.

Jean-Luc du Preez

Pros: He has a massive physical presence at No 7 and uses his size to crash over the advantage line when nothing is on for the backs, to create momentum. He is very difficult to stop when he has the tryline in sight and regularly scores. He is an abrasive player, with a devastating hand-off and is a very physical defender. He has a strong all-round physical presence.

Cons: His handling has let him down at times and he can end up on the wrong side of the penalty count. He is not the quickest around the park but that is no surprise given he is 113 kgs and 1.94 tall.

Oupa Mahoje

Pros: Tall and strong at 107 kgs, he has the physique you would associate with blind-side flankers and Heyneke Meyer picked him in that role after just seven Super Rugby games. He is excellent in the lineout and an explosive ball carrier. He has picked up his work rate this season and has been one of the Cheetahs’ stand-out players.

Cons: There has been no obvious weakness in his game this season, besides playing in a losing team! He is in the form of his life. He is a strong contender for the No 7 jersey but has stiff competition.

Francois Louw

Pros: Another overseas player that Coetzee picked at the start of 2016, Flo played most of the Boks’ Tests in 2016. He is an out-and-out opensider and at the 2015 Rugby World Cup had the second highest total of turnovers (13) in the tournament (David Pocock made the most – 17). Also at the World Cup, Louw and Lood de Jager tied for most tackles made (77). He is powerfully built and a strong ball carrier. His pedigree and ability is unquestioned.

Cons: Louw played in most of the Bok Tests last year without ever capturing his best form. He turns 32 in June and there is the question of whether he is the future.

Jaco Kriel

Pros: He is arguably the form loose forward in South Africa, if not the entire competition. Before this weekend’s round of games, in nine matches Kriel had made 78 carries, covered 376m with ball in hand, made seven clean breaks, made 47 passes and three try assists, and offloaded eight times. He had beaten 21 defenders and scored four tries. On defence, he had made 66 tackles with a 91 percent success rate and missed just six tackles.

Cons: It is difficult to pin point a weakness in his game right now. There was a yellow card for making contact with the face of Robert du Preez with his elbow but a judicial hearing cleared him of intentional wrongdoing. Maybe he needs a new hair cut?!

So there we have seven of the leading contenders for the loose trio but the list could have been longer. Chris Cloete of the Kings would be many a fan’s openside flank because of his consistently good performances in a struggling team. He is great ball stealer but his shortness counts against him (not a lineout option) and he is not an effective ball carrier. Nizaam Caar and Sikhumbuzo Notshe are others that are in the frame.

Perhaps the biggest question is who to pick at seven. If you want a fearsome pack that is going to dominate the inevitable collisions and generate clean possession, then a trio of Vermeulen, Du Preez and Kriel would fit the bill. There is a heck of a lot of physicality in that trio.

If you want a loose trio with more mobility, then Kolisi needs to be there. He would also do a good job as captain. Kolisi is also versatile and can play all three positions and some would say that makes him an ideal No 20…

There is also a strong case of Whiteley leading the team from No 8, as he does so well for the Lions.

So how does seven go into three?

With neck firmly stuck out, the loose trio to start against France in the first Test for 2017 might be the following:

8 Vermeulen

7 Kolisi

6 Kriel

By Mike Greenaway

When will Cape Town do a festival like this -AUSTIN CITY LIMITS FESTIVAL

(Austin, TX – May 4, 2017) Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chance The Rapper, The Killers, Gorillaz, Martin Garrix, and The xx are set to headline this year’s massive Austin City Limits Music Festival lineup. ICE CUBE, Ryan Adams, Solange, The Head and the Heart, Run The Jewels, FOSTER THE PEOPLE, Spoon, Vance Joy, ZHU and more will deliver an incredibly diverse musical landscape throughout ACL Fest’s epic two consecutive weekends.

The world-class festival will deliver more than 140 bands across eight stages at Zilker Park, October 6-8 and October 13-15.

This year’s eclectic collection of talent includes something for everyone with performances from Portugal. The Man, Bonobo (LIVE), A$AP Ferg, First Aid Kit, Louis the Child, Royal Blood (Weekend One), The Revivalists, Cody Jinks, LĪVE, Eagles of Death Metal (Weekend Two), Car Seat Headrest, DREAMCAR, Grace VanderWaal, Skip Marley and Parker Millsap. The deep list of artists also includes Milky Chance, RÜFÜS DU SOL, Alison Wonderland (Weekend One), O.A.R. (Weekend Two), Danny Brown, Whitney, Mondo Cozmo, and many more.

It is a longstanding tradition at ACL Fest to honor homegrown talent and this year’s lineup of Texas-based artists is strong. Fans can look forward to incredible performances from Spoon, Cody Jinks, The Black Angels, MISSIO, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, The Band of Heathens, Asleep at the Wheel, Dale and Ray, Paul Cauthen, CAPYAC, The Wild Now, Carson McHone, Mobley, Annabelle Chairlegs, Tomar and the FC’s and Mélat.

3-Day General Admission Tickets for both weekends go on sale today at 10am CT at www.aclfestival.com . 3-Day VIP and Platinum Tickets and Hotel Packages will also be available starting at 10am CT. Music fans ages 10 and under will be admitted free of charge accompanied by a ticketed adult. 1-Day General Admission Tickets, 1-Day VIP Tickets and 1-Day Platinum Tickets will be available later in the year.

Austin City Limits Music Festival has called Zilker Park home for 16 years, and in 2017, the Austin Parks Foundation is celebrating Zilker 100 , the centennial anniversary of this legendary green space. For more than a decade, proceeds from ACL Festival have gone directly towards improving Austin’s parks. Just this week, ACL Fest announced $6.3 million in funding to Austin Parks, making the total contribution to improvements to Zilker Park and parks across the city more than $26 million since 2006.

Fans worldwide who can’t make it to Zilker Park will be able to watch the Austin City Limits Music Festival Live Broadcast on Red Bull TV, which is distributed digitally for free on any connected device and accessible online at redbull.tv/aclfest. The Live Broadcast can also be viewed on www.aclfestival.com . Full broadcast schedule of performances will be announced in October.

Fans can sign up for the E-List to be the first to get new information at www.aclfestival.com , download the ACL Fest Mobile App , and follow social media to stay in the loop for all festival announcements. Facebook || Instagram || Twitter .

Austin City Limits Music Festival is generously sponsored by American Express, Honda, Miller Lite, HomeAway, BMI and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

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