THE RESURGENCE OF THE SPRINGBOKS

The gong sounded and Herchel Jantjies placed his hands on the ball, gave a quick glance and pinged it to Handre Pollard to boot out. A moment South Africans will never forget, we were going to lift the Webb Ellis trophy once more, a record-equaling third time tied with our fiercest rivals New Zealand.

So how exactly did we climb a mountain that 18 months ago seemed beyond our capabilities? It started when Rassie Erasmus took over Allister Coetzee in March 2018. His first match in charge was against Wales in Washington DC, in which he gave thirteen players their first test cap. It was a narrow 22-20 defeat but from there it was a journey heading straight to the top.

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South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus at a press conference. Image from @SuperSportTV

Erasmus was prepared to scuffle the old structures set in place by his predecessors – outdated and fragile blueprints that crippled a team that had the potential to go toe-to-toe with anyone in World Rugby but just couldn’t. Erasmus manifested a whole new philosophy that would ultimately take us back to the summit of World Rugby. His new style of play, fusing power with speed was an indication of what was to come. England was the experiment job that proved successful and would lay the foundation for something special, the appointment of our first-ever black captain part of the masonry. A comprehensive victory over the Red Roses was the shift in the paradigm, and a spark to a fire that would burn on the biggest stage of them all.

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Say gold! Captain Siya Kolisi holding the Webb Ellis trophy at the World Rugby Awards. Image from @WorldRugby

Que the 2019 Rugby Championship, the Springboks were totally a different team. The team was playing with a certain swagger that was missing since the days of Kitch Christie and Jake White. Suddenly a team that looked like it was on the brink of vaporizing into thin air, was rejuvenated and signalling ominous signs. Maybe it was a case of be careful what you wish for to then New Zealand coach Steve Hansen who before the Championship started said: “rugby needs a strong Springbok team.”

Spearheaded by the likes of Kolisi, Marx, and Etzebeth the Springboks proved to be a force to be reckoned with, playing a brand of rugby that only Erasmus can pioneer. Springbok teams are renowned for their gutsiness and ruthlessness but this time it was different, they had taken it to another level. Erasmus created the perfect team, investing time in the likes of Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am who at the time were maybe good enough to play against an Italy or Georgia side. The shenanigans of Aphiwe Dyantyi proved to be a blessing in disguise as Mapimpi would go on to become one of the best finishers in modern rugby together with mercurial winger Cheslin Kolbe.

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Magical feet! Cheslin Kolbe dotting the ball down in a 49-3 victory over Italy. Image from @SuperSportTV

I can’t imagine the Boks playing a test match without Lukhanyo Am who in many respects has become an integral part of the defence structure that we so heavily rely on. Erasmus’ right arm man Jacques Nienaber who is responsible for the defence operation turned Am into a defence general alongside marauder and 2019 Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit. (Donald Trump maybe needs to consult with Nienaber on that wall situation)

Essentially what it boils down to is that Erasmus knew what he wanted and crafted the players he knew could do the job. A lot of players copped a lot of flack, the likes of Willie le Roux, Damian de Allende, Mapimpi, etc but he saw the bigger picture and finally after a gold medal and a Webb Ellis trophy we see it too. Have a clear vision and stick to your guns is the key lesson, his predecessors were quick to drop players upon public outcry but he did what he believed would work.

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Pieter-Steph du Toit scores the Springboks’ only try against rivals New Zealand in their opening match. Image from @SuperSportTV

South Africa is in desperate need of minds like Erasmus to sustain what we have accomplished this year, and maybe him stepping into the directors’ role is another step towards greatness and taking our rugby to unprecedented heights.

Only time will tell, but there’s a lot to be excited about.

WHY THE NBA IS CLOSE TO BEING THE BENCHMARK LEAGUE

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is one of four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, the other three being the MLB, NFL, and NHL. The league, now 73 years old has captivated fans not only in the United States but across the globe.

It is one of the most recognizable leagues in the world and seemingly on the upward curve which will continue for some time before it stagnates. The sheer influence of the teams and personalities make it a sought-after entertainment commodity. The league revenue for the 2017/18 season was a staggering $8.01bn, double the figure of the 2011/2012 season. Now, what makes the league so special?

Russell Westbrook

SUPERSTARS

The NBA boasts some of the best players the league has ever seen and it is partially due to the exclusivity of the sport. There is a lot of international players plying their trade in this esteemed league, take for instance the two biggest winners of the 2018/2019 season MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is from Greece. Rookie of the year was Dallas Maverick sensation Luka Doncic hailing from the land of caves Slovenia. All the best players in the world jumping under one umbrella can only have one outcome. Just imagine if all football stars the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Harry Kane all played in the same league? Pretty much what’s happening in the NBA. This coupled with the regular endorsement of A-list celebrities make it a notoriously famous league and where there’s fame there’s interest.

Kawhi Leonard

MONEY MONEY MONEY

NBA franchises are at their most profitable than they have ever been. The average franchise valuation is at $1.9 billion almost 14% up over the last three years, yes that is ridiculous considering there are 30 teams in the league. As of 30 May 2019, Juventus, the most successful club in Italy has been valued at $1.51 billion. The startling aspect of these two comparisons is that the gap will continue to widen, the growing TV audience means the NBA will be even bigger in the coming years. The NBA’s logo patch sponsorship has already made a significant impact with teams reaping the financial rewards of the sport’s popularity. The excitement and star-studded rosters are bringing new people to the game. According to Sports Retriever, there has been a significant spike in audiences between the 18-49 age group resulting in the NBA selling 95% of its entire ticket allocation with a total of 741 stadium sellouts. Football can’t even begin to challenge these numbers.

Steph Curry

SOCIAL MEDIA

Embracing the outreach of social media has become a gamechanger for sporting teams around the world. The NBA has more followers than the world’s richest league the NFL. It is easy to upload real-time footage such as pre-match training, behind the scenes and exclusive player interviews. Players are major assets and a leveraging opportunity to promote the franchise. In some odd instances’ players are contractually bound to use social media to engage with fans, somewhat odd but anything that makes the brand look good.

We’re heading into another polarising season and coming off the back of a trading frenzy, fans can be sure to witness the sport blaze to new heights on the court and on the Forbes list.

Top 10 Most Valuable Teams

  1. Dallas Cowboys – $5bn
  2. New York Yankees – $4.6bn
  3. Real Madrid – $4.2bn
  4. FC Barcelona – $4.02bn
  5. New York Knicks – $4bn
  6. Manchester United – $3.81bn
  7. New England Patriots – $3.8bn
  8. Los Angeles Lakers – $3.7bn
  9. Golden State Warriors – $3.5bn
  10. Los Angeles Dodgers – $3.3bn

Photo Credits:

https://www.sportsnet.ca/basketball/nba/report-thunder-receptive-toward-trade-calls-russell-westbrook/

We Asked a FOX Sports Host Why American Networks Keep Ignoring the Toronto Raptors

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/06/golden-state-warriors-historical-greatness/

SPRINGBOKS: A CREAKING MACHINE RARING TO GO

For the first time in a long time, we have South Africans singing to the same tune. Rassie Erasmus and Mzwandile Stick have done an incredible turnaround job in the aftermath of Heyneke Meyer and Allister Coetzee’s humdrum tenures.

The Springboks are well known for their brute style of play and uncompromising defence structure, we saw glimpses of that during Meyer’s term as a coach and it was almost non-existent with Coetzee at the helm. The All Blacks laid the gauntlet for the rest of the world with exquisite, easy-on-the-eye gameplay which most teams tried to emulate and inevitably failed to master.

South Africa v New Zealand - The Rugby Championship

There were unsurprising calls from the South African public to also try and play this expansive trade and one would argue and say this led to Coetzee’s lacklustre tenure, trying hard to play a style very much foreign to the South African blueprint.

What is the South African blueprint? Well, the blueprint is what we have witnessed in the Springboks successful Rugby Championship campaign this year. Direct, incisive play and an unforgiving work rate, a trade which has been established in the Kobus Wiese era, followed up by the Os du Randt and Bakkies Botha of this world and is now being manifested by Kolisi & co.

Bakkies Botha

Erasmus reverted back to this blueprint which set the Boks up for a merry-way starting with the demolition of the England team during the June Test Internationals in 2018. Eddie Jones’ team were the hot favourites having dominated Europe in the Six Nations tournament and boasted a talented squad featuring the likes of Saracens duo Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje.

England went on to claim one over the Boks at the end of year tour which ultimately served as a fine-tuning platform against Europe’s elite and now the Springbok machine has been oiled up and is ready to go on a collision course.

Springboks 1

The Boks are not a polished product yet, the team is idling at 80% and is already bruising the opposition, a very good sign if you’re a South African if not the signs are very ominous. The Springboks pack is dominating teams which allow the backline to flourish under the stewardship of Blue Bulls maverick Handre Pollard. Some might say we don’t have the strongest backline but playing with a forward pack that gives you go-forward momentum and defends like Trojans dilute the existing frailties.

The Springboks in their nature were never built to play expansive rugby like their Southern Hemisphere counterparts New Zealand. It has always been about outmuscling and wearing down the opposition physically. This is evident with the Bok scrum dominating the All Blacks and Wallabies Wellington and Johannesburg respectively, in the match against Argentina, there were 10 scrums of which 6 resulted in penalties for the Springboks.

The Springboks are once again major World Cup contenders and a threat for any opposition and maybe, just maybe South Africans can get their hopes up of lifting another Webb Ellis trophy at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama.

Rassie

Photo Credits:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/rassie-erasmus-determined-to-keep-tourists-on-track-to-show-true-colours-85vwqb7nc

Analysis: All Blacks’ multi-threat attack

Springboks seal series over England with one game left to play

Springboks seal series over England with one game left to play

 

10 SONGS THAT SHOULD AT LEAST FEATURE IN YOUR FAVOURITE PLAYLIST

The list was harder to put together than I had anticipated. I’m pretty gutted that a 1975 or Gretna Van Fleet song doesn’t feature in this edition. Solid list, obviously contentious according to preference, but hope you might dig some of the tunes and potentially unlock a new sound for your playlist. Peace!

10. OLIVER – MECHANICAL: It’s one of those songs which could have easily slipped into 4th on this list. Very much a synth-fused song, which some might find overwhelming, it’s really a brilliant song. It makes me want to buy Cuban cigars and fly away into the galaxy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RDRa3VXiQQ

Oliver

9.BALOJI – L’HIVER INDIEN: If you played FIFA 18 you will have heard this song a million times. If not put this song on, pour a glass of wine and dance your feet off. Most of the songs here on aren’t really the happiest vibes but this one is very upbeat and funky for those who are into happy music. If you understand French even better! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Achj9t5OQP4

Baloji

8. TAME IMPALA – LET IT HAPPEN: I mean fuck! These guys are the best thing to happen to the psychedelic genre ever. And yes, I think they’re better than Pink Floyd and all the other T-Shirt bands. Kevin Parker is musically one of the most creative and authentic producers of the 21st  century. So much that trap king Travis Scott roped him in on the critically acclaimed Astroworld album. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFptt7Cargc

TameImpala

7. HOZIER – SHRIKE: We all know take me to church, but in his recent EP album he reminds us what a talented musician he is. Shrike peeps out a little of his Irish side with an old school melody powered by his magnificent voice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWLqdAJbu0A

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6. MAC MILLER – REMEMBER: This song made me fall in love with Mac. Such a dope ass beat and lyrics that slap harder than yo mamma. The song holds deep ties, he tells a personal story of a departed friend. Text your friends and tell them you love them, well certainly how I felt after listening to it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7MrdaSYvo0

Mac Miller

5. Kid Cudi – Rose Golden: An experimental project featuring Willow Smith, who surprisingly holds the song down, can’t imagine the song without her. Pink is probably the only artist I can think of that can complement such a unique song. As usual, Cudi kills it with the hmmmms… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLgNvaQZ0lc

Kid-Cudi-Press-Photo

4. JAMES BAY – PINK LEMONADE: Rock! Finally. James Bay has always been one of those low-key artists that everybody knows but never really pays attention to. Pink Lemonade is a masterful jam, something you’d expect from a Lenny Kravitz. If you forgot your pre-workout, look no further for an energy kick! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE-gdNIL8WI

James Bay

3. FOSTER THE PEOPLE – SIT NEXT TO ME: Mark has always been a creative writer and producer but this song is an absolute banger. Pumped Up Kicks is still their best song ever, but this song is pretty special and deserves a lot of praise. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKLVpDTZOPQ

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2. THE CHAIN GANG OF 1974 – SLEEPWALKING: It’s a weird song, few songs make me feel nostalgic but this one is off the top shelf. Featured in GTA V’s official trailer, the song warrants more mainstream plays but it’s always those hidden gems that stick longer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rprf7LEraU4

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1. TASH SULTANA – JUNGLE: Man, I can’t even begin to describe this song. Tash herself such a unique artist, she recorded the song in her bedroom and is known for her hippie, chilled demeanor, she is a fresh breath of air in an industry dominated by chains and autotune. Truly a magnificent song! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZvP7PwUAwM

Tash-Sultana-Performs-In-Milan-sept-2018-billboard-1548

 

Photo Credits:

Tash Sultana: Billboard / Mairo Cinquetti (Getty Images)

Foster the People: https://theseahawk.org/

Kid Cudi: https://www.pne.ca/

Hozier: https://www.straight.com/

Mac Miller: https://wallpapercave.com/mac-miller-wallpaper

Tame Impala: https://joke-battles.fandom.com/wiki/Tame_Impala

James Bay: https://wallpapercave.com/james-bay-wallpapers

The Chain Gang of 1974: https://www.spin.com/

Oliver: http://whatculture.com/music/oliver-mechanical-ep-review

Baloji: https://focus.knack.be/entertainment/

RED MIST TO DESCEND ON SILVER ARROWS PARADE

We are weeks away, in fact 13 days until lights out in Melbourne, Australia. Testing has concluded in Catalunya with teams critically analyzing every detail to gain whichever advantage over their rivals.

2018-Formula1-Ferrari-SF71H-V4-1600

This is arguably the biggest season for Sebastian Vettel in his Ferrari career. He joined the Italian team back in 2015 and has been in the shadow of now five-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton and his constructors’ amalgamates Mercedes ever since.

It has now been 12 years since Scuderia last won a driver’s championship and 11 years the constructors’ title – something which is bewildering in hindsight considering the team’s history and contribution to the sport.

Ferrari approached Vettel in 2014 when he was still at Austrian team Red Bull and was struggling with then new arrival Daniel Ricciardo outracing him in several. Scuderia was also on the charge to rival the Silver Arrows, having significantly fallen behind the German powerhouse.

2015 and 2016 were experimental seasons for Vettel and the team, playing mostly second fiddle to Hamilton and his cohorts who by then had established themselves as the track sheriffs. They dominated so much that it became a frosty title challenge between their two drivers Hamilton and Nico Rosberg who would later go on to win the Championship in 2016.

Ferrari did eventually close the gap on Mercedes in 2017 with a series of stellar track performances, finding a makeshift balance between pace and reliability. It was however Mercedes who managed to deliver better performance packages in the second half of the season to leave their rivals red in the face. Hamilton claimed a seemingly comfortable fourth Champion by 46 points over Vettel.

Lewis Ham.JPG

If there was ever a season that inflicted pain on the Scuderia faithful, it is undoubtedly the 2018 season where things came apart by the seams. It would be hard to argue that it wasn’t the reason former team principal Maurizio Arrivabene got sacked.

A series of driver errors from Vettel himself and questionable strategic approaches the plight of a dreadful second half season. The consequences? Another Driver’s Championship for Hamilton and the Silver Arrows.

Last season will be firmly etched in the back of the men in red, but there’s a renewed sense of optimism. Contributing to that might be the arrival of French prodigy Charles Leclerc who showed his class and skill in the Sauber producing some outstanding performances throughout the 2018 season.

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Leclerc will have a good car and judging by what he did with the Sauber, it’s hard not place him in the frame for the Championship battle. Early signs show the SF90 might be the car to bring an end to the title drought.

Ferrari last won a constructors’ championship in 2008 when Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen finished second and third respectively – Hamilton winning it with McLaren that season. If Vettel and Leclerc can perform at their peak, it would take something special to prevent them from winning the constructors’ with all respect to Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton.

Mattia Binotto will look to rally his charges to give Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda something to think about. It’s an all but familiar everything-to-gain and everything-to-lose situation for the Prancing Horse team, but early signs show they are ready to throw everything at Mercedes. Also not forgetting the threat posed by Christian Horner’s Red Bulls, who are the dark horses and could throw a spanner in the works.

Red Bull

The countdown to Melbourne has begun and we’ll have a more definite consensus when the checkered flag waves after 58 laps. One thing is for sure, it’s going to be a riveting ride until Yas Marina and we cannot wait.

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Images Supplied:

https://www.formula1.com/

https://www.wsupercars.com

https://www.independent.co.uk/