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Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Life, rugby and everything else: Stories from the Touchline by Springbok legend Theuns Stofberg

Stories from the TouchlineStories Van Die KantlynNew from Zebra Press, Stories from the Touchline by Theuns Stofberg:

A collection of humorous, touching and uplifting stories about life, rugby and everything else by one of South Africa’s true rugby legends …

Theuns Stofberg’s illustrious rugby career spanned from 1976 to 1985, and he is commonly considered one of the all-time Springbok greats. As the 36th captain of the Springboks, one of only 56 players to be given this honour, he was tough and uncompromising on the field but a true gentleman and great raconteur off it, which he proves with the anecdotes collected in this book.

In Stories from the Touchline, he takes the reader behind the scenes, from his childhood days as a schoolboy rugby player to the 1981 flour-bomb tour of New Zealand and winning the Currie Cup for three different provinces – a feat unmatched to this day. He also writes about what it was like playing with legends such as Morné du Plessis, Gerrie Germishuys, Schalk Burger Sr and Gysie Pienaar, marvels at the fans’ odd and often colourful behaviour, and affords readers a fascinating glimpse into the amateur days of rugby in South Africa. He also shares his personal struggles with a speech impediment and ill health, and coping with family tragedy, in his own inimitable way. By turns deeply personal, amusing and nostalgic, this book will be treasured by each and every South African rugby fan.

Also available in Afrikaans as Stories van die kantlyn.

About the author

Theuns Stofberg is the only player in the history of South African rugby who won the Currie Cup for three different provinces: Orange Free State, Northern Transvaal and Western Province. In the 10 years that he played senior rugby, his side always advanced to the Currie Cup final, winning six and drawing one. He became a Springbok at the age of only 21, replacing the legendary Jan Ellis in the second Test against Andy Leslie’s All Blacks in 1976. He scored six tries in his 21 Test matches and captained four international matches, against New Zealand, England and South America. He and his wife Martie live on Rouana, a small wine farm among the vineyards of Stellenbosch.

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Ryan Sandes will launch Trail Blazer: My Life as an Ultra-distance Trail Runner in Cape Town, Joburg and Durban

Trail Blazer: My Life as an Ultra-distance Trail RunnerDon’t miss Ryan Sandes’s book tour to launch his biography, Trail Blazer: My Life as an Ultra-distance Trail Runner.

Sandes burst onto the trail-running scene seemingly out of nowhere in 2008 by winning the Gobi March, a seven-stage, 250-kilometre race across the brutal Gobi Desert. Proving this was no fluke, he went on to become one of the elite of ultra-trail running.

Trail Blazer recounts the life story of this intrepid sportsman, from his experiences as a rudderless party animal to becoming a world-class athlete, and includes details on his training regimes, race strategies and aspirations for future sporting endeavours.

As Professor Tim Noakes says in the Foreword to this book: “However much we might think we know and understand, there are some phenomena which now, and perhaps forever, we will never fully comprehend. We call such happenings ‘enigmas’. Or even miracles. Ryan Sandes is one such.”

The events will take place in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, and kick off tomorrow evening!

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From party animal to ultra-trail-running superstar: Trail Blazer by Ryan Sandes

Ian: “You’re going to run how far?”
Ryan: “250 kilometres. But it’s over seven days, though.”
Ian: “And the furthest you’ve ever run is … ?”
Ryan: “42.2 kilometres … on the road. And on trail … 35 kilometres.”
Ian: “Ryan, I think you need to reassess this …”

Trail BlazerWhat does it take to run a six-day race through the world’s harshest deserts? Or 100 miles in a single day at altitudes that would leave you breathless just walking? More than that, though: what is it like to win these races?

South Africa’s ultra-trail-running superstar Ryan Sandes has done just that. Since bursting onto the international trail-running scene by winning the first multistage race he ever entered – the brutal Gobi March – Ryan has gone on to win various other multistage and single-day races around the globe.

Written with bestselling author and journalist Steve Smith, Trail Blazer: My Life as an Ultra-distance Trail Runner recounts the life story of this intrepid sportsman, from his experiences as a rudderless party animal to becoming a world-class athlete, and includes details on his training regimes, race strategies and aspirations for future sporting endeavours.

Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the adrenaline-inducing trials and tribulations of one of South Africa’s most awe-inspiring athletes, while endurance-sport participants – from beginners to aspirant pros – will benefit from his insights and advice.

As Professor Tim Noakes says in the Foreword to this book: “However much we might think we know and understand, there are some phenomena which now, and perhaps forever, we will never fully comprehend. We call such happenings ‘enigmas’. Or even miracles. Ryan Sandes is one such.”

About the authors

Ryan Sandes burst onto the trail-running scene seemingly out of nowhere in 2008 by winning the Gobi March, a seven-stage, 250-kilometre race across the brutal Gobi Desert. Proving this was no fluke, he would go on to become the first, and only, person to win every race in the 4 Deserts Race Series before turning his attention to the world’s great single-stage 100-milers. A sensational win at the high-altitude Leadville 100 in Colorado and victories in Australia, Hong Kong, the Canaries and Patagonia, as well as setting the fastest known time for the 209-kilometre Drakensberg Grand Traverse, have confirmed his status among the very elite of ultra-trail running.

Steve Smith is a successful magazine editor and writer who penned the bestselling sports autobiographies To the Point, for bad-boy cricketer Herschelle Gibbs, and SuperVan & I, for motor-racing legend Sarel van der Merwe. Steve is also an enthusiastic mountain-biker, having completed several multiday stage races. He is the editor of CAR magazine, and was previously at the helm of Red Bull’s magazine, The Red Bulletin, and Sports Illustrated.

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Chad le Clos gearing up for Rio Olympics

Unbelievable!Chad le Clos gave a strong indication on Sunday as to what event he may compete in at the Rio Olympics in August – outside of his two specialist butterfly races.

The double medallist from London 2012 is keeping his racing schedule under wraps‚ but he achieved an Olympic qualifying time in the 200m freestyle in the second leg of the SA grand prix swimming series in Durban on Sunday afternoon.

He won the race in 1 min 47.54 sec‚ almost half a second inside the criterion he will need to repeat in the same Kings Park pool in April at the six-day SA championships‚ which will serve as the Olympic trials.

Le Clos‚ who won the 200m fly gold and 100m fly silver at the last Games‚ competed in the 200m freestyle at the 2015 world championships‚ finishing sixth and more than a second off the podium.

But there is a possibility that he might also try the 100m freestyle or the 200m individual medley‚ where he made the Olympic final four years ago.

Coach Graham Hill has said Le Clos will enter more than the two butterfly races at the Rio Games‚ but he doesn’t want to say which – or even how many. Right now‚ the 200m freestyle looks like a good bet.

Le Clos and his Seagulls club training partner Myles Brown were the only swimmers to achieve qualifying times at the three-day gala‚ which is still early in the season. Le Clos also did it in the 200m fly on Saturday and Brown in the 400m freestyle on the opening day.

Not even Cameron van der Burgh‚ the reigning 100m breaststroke Olympic champion‚ managed it in his main event on Sunday‚ clocking 1:01.48. But that’s no train smash for the veteran swimmer who only begins to start lifting his game around April.

Pundits are predicting a small SA swimming team at the Games‚ with possibly fewer than 10 members qualifying in individual events. There is also a strong possibility that there might be no women in the team‚ which would be a first since 2004. Swimmers at the Durban gala this weekend did nothing to dispel these fears‚ but it’s still early days.

Source: TMG Digital

At the 2012 Olympics Le Clos, then 20, astounded the world by achieving the “unbelievable”: he beat Michael Phelps, his childhood hero and the world’s number one swimmer, in the 200 metres butterfly final.

You can re-live that incredible moment in his autobiography:

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Kalk Bay Books understands readers – Luke Alfred

The Art of LosingWhen the Lions Came to TownLuke Alfred, renowned sports journalist and author of The Art of Losing: Why the Proteas Choke at the Cricket World Cup and When the Lions Came to Town: The 1974 Rugby Tour to South Africa, recently paid a few visits to Kalk Bay Books in Cape Town, one of the country’s best loved bookshops, and found it to be one of the finest out there.

Alfred supports his argument by listing, and explaining, the reasons readers read and visit bookshops. Kalk Bay Books, according to him, understands this and presents itself as both a place “with a sense of self and of humour”.

“What academic monographs and run-of-the-mill reviewing fail to do is to take us into this place – part fantasy, part reverie, part stunted friendship – at the very core of how readers read.

“We read soulfully, vulnerably, and the bookshop in Kalk Bay seemed to acknowledge this, resisting the temptation to link the experience of selecting a book, buying it and taking it home to read with any other form of consumption. Here we had a strong black with a dash of milk and one sugar,” Alfred writes.

Read the article, then start planning your trip to Kalk Bay to experience this remarkable bookshop for yourself:

My family and I found ourselves in Cape Town’s Kalk Bay for the holidays. As well as the village’s many delights — the Olympia Café and the decadent seals twirling in the harbour — Kalk Bay possesses a fine bookshop.

If it is not independent of ownership, it is certainly independent of spirit. During several immersions there, I found myself wondering about the shop’s range and atmosphere, realising that as well as the staff clearly being readers and loving books, the shop pedalled a view of the world.

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Image courtesy of SA Venues

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“Our form of late has been pretty poor” – AB de Villiers after Proteas lost test series

Over the weekend, Proteas fans were devastated when the national cricket team were bowled out for 313 on the second morning of the third test against England, seeing them lose the series as well as their position as the top-ranked test side in the ICC Test Championship table.

AB de Villiers, who played his first match as test captain, was devastated too. At the press conference held after the match, he said that it almost felt like all hope was gone.

“I believe our form of late has been pretty poor and it’ll take something special to turn it around,” De Villiers said. He went on: “It’s important for us to keep fighting and find that type of cricket that we’re looking to play. But we’re a little bit off-beat at the moment, that’s for sure.”

Read Lloyd Burnard’s article for Sport24 for a round-up of the match and De Villiers’s reaction to his team’s performance:

At lunch on day three of the third Test against England in Johannesburg on Saturday the Proteas would have fancied their chances.

They were 16/0, ahead in the game and looking to manufacture as big a target as possible in their bid to level the series.

One Stuart Broad masterclass later and it was all over – the Proteas crashing to defeat by seven wickets before the day was done.

It was a bitter pill for AB de Villiers to sallow in his first match as Test captain.

At the post-match presser he was trying his best to look forward to the fourth Test in Centurion, but the hurt was unmissable.

“South Africa’s era of dominance in Test cricket has come to an end, but the ashes will continue to burn well beyond the end of this series. The Proteas are in desperate need of some direction, especially from their management staff,” Daily Maverick’s resident cricket expert Antoinette Muller writes in an op-ed after the match series.

Read the article to see what she proposes:

In the aftermath of the bloodbath at the Bullring, South Africa will desperately be seeking answers for what has gone so terribly wrong with their cricket in the last 12 months. Barring their effort on a flat deck at Newlands, an entire group of core players seem to have lost form, or picked up injuries.

While the players should shoulder some of the blame for the disaster that has seen a once feared team fall from grace, Russell Domingo and his coaching staff have a lot to answer for. The current set-up, made up out of one head coach and three assistants all dedicated to different roles, seem to have brought little structure to a team in transition in the last year.

Telford Vice wrote a scathing article for Business Day in which he warns that “cricket in this country should be put on suicide watch”:

With another match-fixing scandal darkening its doorway, the last thing SA cricket needed was a performance like the one their Test team delivered at the Wanderers on Saturday – when they lost the third match of the series against England by seven wickets with two days to spare.

Two days to ache about being dismissed for 83 in their second innings. Two days to let the awfulness of losing the series sink in. Two days to embrace the disappointment of having been toppled off the top of the Test rankings.

For more about cricket in South Africa, and the men that have made an impact on the game, have a look at some of Penguin Random Houses’s titles relating to the gentleman’s game:

South Africa's Greatest BatsmenThe Art of Losing100 South African Sporting LegendsEmpire, War & Cricket in South AfricaJacques Kallis and 12 Other Great South African All-rounders


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Image courtesy of IOL / Themba Hadeb

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Greener pastures for John Mitchell as he heads off to the US to coach the Eagles

Mitch: The Real StoryThe United States men’s national rugby union team has named its new coach: John Mitchell.

Mitchell’s previous positions include coaching the All Blacks, the English side Sale Sharks and Super Rugby teams Chiefs, Lions and Western Force.

His name was in the hat for the Stormers coaching position, and even mentioned a few times in conversations about possible replacements for Heyneke Meyer. However, Sport24 reports that politics in South African rugby made it an easy decision for Mitchell to head to the US to coach the Eagles.

“This opportunity [USA job] in many ways is probably the better of the opportunities, because the longer I was in the process of the Stormers it became very evident to me that the process saved me,” Mitchell said in an interview.

Find out more about this remarkable, albeit controvertial, rugby coach by reading his biography, Mitch: The Real Story.

USA Rugby made the announcement on their website, followed by a short Q&A with the man himself. His appointment is effective immediately with a four-year contract aimed at preparing the US team for the next Rugby World Cup.

When asked what his goal for the Eagles will be, Mitchell says:

The speed of development towards getting USA to win the Webb Ellis will be dependent on the amount of money put behind marketing the game to the USA and player recruitment and development. Everyone involved will need to understand that winning is directly proportional to the talent pool and investment in that pool.

My thinking immediately for the next four years is more about building a platform for USA Rugby to launch from in the following areas:

1. To cultivate a team culture and climate that is improving individual performance and connectedness
2. To be recognized as authentic competition to Tier-One playing nations by the end of 2019
3. To establish a winning playing style and approach to the game that will attract in audiences and new talent locally and globally
4. To mentor coaches and management to generate long-term sustainability and competitiveness throughout the USA
5. To support the establishment of the PRO League and Americas Rugby Championship

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Read Pierre Francois Massyn's Introduction to Springbok Rugby Quiz: 1001 Questions and Answers

Springbok Rugby QuizSpringbok Rugby VasvraSpringbok Rugby Quiz: 1001 Questions and Answers by Pierre Francois Massyn is a fascinating, fun look at rugby history and facts.

The book contains 1001 questions about Springbok rugby from the national team’s first test match in 1891, right up until the present. There are answers for the questions, along with relevant anecdotes, in the back of the book.

Massyn has shared an excerpt from the Introduction to his book on the Springbok Rugby Quiz website. In the excerpt the author writes about his love of rugby and the Springboks that inspire him. He speaks about the personal letter he wrote to Nelson Mandela about the importance of the Springbok emblem, and the effect it may or may not have had on the former president. The book is illustrated throughout with pictures of significant moments and characters of South African rugby.

Read the excerpt:

In 1965 we as a family were having a meal in the Gordonia Hotel in Upington. Sitting on his own, there was an unknown man at his table. “Go and ask that Oom his signature” my father encouraged me. Clutching my father’s Rembrandt van Rhijn’s cigarette box in my small hand, I bravely approached the other guest. Minutes later I proudly returned, with his signature on the back of the cigarette box. Sias Swart’s (Footnote 1) was the first Springbok autograph I had ever obtained. I have since collected a few more. I discovered I somehow had a penchant not only for the stories, but for the statistics as well. As a boy, I began to challenge anybody, sometime complete strangers, to ask me anything about rugby. I always knew all the answers. Players, matches, scores, tries … And to this day I have never stopped reading rugby books or stopped following the matches. This book is the natural progressions of my love for the Game.

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Dean Allen is Visiting His Old College to Speak About His Best-selling Empire, War & Cricket in South Africa

Empire, War & Cricket in South AfricaDean Allen, the author of Empire, War & Cricket in South Africa, is returning to his old school West Somerset College to speak about his book.

The Somerset County Gazette has featured a story on Allen and the positive reception of his book on “cricket in South Africa about the workings of the British Empire and the adoption of the game in Southern Africa”.

Empire, War & Cricket in South Africa is a South African best-seller, and is on the short-list for Jenny Crwys-Williams’ Book of the Year. The article lists a number of Allen’s other impressive accolades and engagements.

Read the article:

Set during a time when the country was heading towards war with the British Empire, the book explains how Logan was instrumental in arranging some of the first-ever international matches between England and South Africa, hosting a number of these at Matjiesfontein, the town he founded.

“The book is filled with colourful characters, political intrigue and fascinating history, all with the theme of cricket running throughout,” Dr Allen said.

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Does John Mitchell Meet the "Strict Criteria" to be the Next Stormers Coach?

Mitch: The Real StoryJohn Mitchell, whose biography Mitch: The Real Story was released last year, is reportedly set to become the next Stormers rugby coach.

In an article for Business Day, Craig Ray outlined Mitchell’s career until this point, comparing it to Western Province director’s “strict criteria” of six or seven years’ Super Rugby experience and also international experience.

Read the article:

Former All Blacks coach John Mitchell is edging closer to finalising a deal to become the next Stormers coach.

The 51-year-old Mitchell is set to replace Eddie Jones after the latter vacated his post less than three weeks into the job to become England head coach.

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