Opinion: What’s going on with our athletics?


It’s not nice to start an article on such a negative note, but it can’t be otherwise after the implosion of our athletes at the recent World Championship.

Not a single medal was brought back by the 36 athletes. And was it really an explosion or rather a lack of quality?

What is going on with our athletics? It is high time that there is an outside investigation into the governing body Athletics South Africa regarding the sport which is increasingly sinking.

Yes, one can point to Akani Simbine’s early start in the 100m final and the third handover in the men’s 4 x 100m final as misfortunes – the latter less so, because even in the qualifying race it was conspicuously absent with the handover did not go well (Perhaps under-trained? After all, this is the second major athletics event in recent times where South Africa’s athletes have dropped the baton.)

As a slight relief, there was Wayde van Niekerk who, after his injury six years ago, could not repeat his recent string of good performances at the championships.

However, it goes much further than the above examples. There were very, very few South African athletes who looked like they belonged at all at an event of this quality.

Where does the fault lie? Coaching? Poor administration? Both, one would guess.

Or is it a lack of opportunities/good competition so far away from big events in Europe?

But why could our neighboring country Botswana do much better? Or other lesser sporting nations such as the British Virgin Islands, Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Peru and the Dominican Republic who won medals?

Whatever the reason may be, it is high time that the South African Athletics Federation started fulfilling its duties. At grassroots and junior level it is literally chaos in most of the provinces. Feel free to check out what’s going on at events…

It’s club rugby’s turn again

The national club competition for the Gold Cup, which kicks off on September 9, will be exceptionally important this year.

South African teams’ move to European competitions resulted in the Currie Cup Series being neglected here and there due to the greater importance of the United Rugby Competition, and the competitions of the European Championship Trophy and European Challenge Series.

While it did give the other teams such as the Pumas, the Griquas, the Griffons and others a chance to fill their ranks with some of the best players outside the European competitions, the franchises struggled to get their best on two fronts put foot forward.

The Gold Cup series will kick off this year with 32 teams – two teams from each of the 14 unions, plus two from Limpopo which is currently a sub-union of the Bulls, with three additional invitational teams (Centurion, Wesbank and Unie-Milnerton).

This means that there will be five teams in the Gold Cup competition playing in the Bulls’ Carlton League: Naka Bulls, Northam Rhinos, Harlequins, Wolverines, and Centurion.

The complete list of teams and draw was not yet available at the time of writing.

The structure has been changed somewhat this year, with each rugby union and also Limpopo, a sub-union of the Blue Bulls, each having two teams in the knockout series.

Background to the Gold Cup competition

The universities have the Varsity Cup and the Varsity Shield as competitions. But South Africa’s leading open clubs have had their own competition since 2012 where they participate without the universities. (Since the 1970s, the annual Easter tournament has been held in Durban with eight invitational teams playing by invitation. Over the years, the open clubs have only won a few times.)

The Gold Cup, made of nine carat (soft) gold, is one of the most valuable trophies in SA Rugby’s trophy case. It comes from the era when there were still quite a few “national rugby bodies” in South Africa.

The trophy was made in England about a century ago with the aim of donating it to the winner of an annual airplane race between London and Cape Town which did not take place at the time.

It then became the trophy for the winners of the SA Rugby Federation’s (SARFF) top competition between 1961-1974.

When the SARFF joined the SA Rugby Board (SARB) in 1978, the Gold Cup became the trophy for all provincial competitions of the affiliated unions until 1991.

Rugby unity under the SA Rugby Football Union was achieved in 1992 and the Gold Cup was initially used for various competitions of the unified larger provincial competitions.

Since 2013, however, this is the trophy for which the South African clubs compete.

Bulls and Blue Bulls’ golden year

Yes, there was no Currie Cup for the Bulls and Blue Bulls this year – with the Free State winning the Currie Cup. Still, it was an excellent year for the Bulls and Blue Bulls – and I’m not just talking about rugby results here.

At the time of writing this article, the Bulls’ Daisies are the first women’s professional team in South African rugby to be paid at the same level as the men. They completely dominated the women’s league this year and, almost humiliatingly one would say, won their competition on Saturday when they beat the WP in the final at Loftus with 69-8.

Their results are not limited to the playoffs either. The Daisies won all 12 of their games before the final, scored 111 tries to just seven and scored bonus points in every game.

Earlier in the season, the Daisies also thrashed the WP women’s team 43-5 and 41-0 in the league matches.

It is of course something to be proud of, but it is also important in an international context. The interplay and development of this group of top players in South African women’s rugby showed what is possible.

This will undoubtedly be of great benefit to the women’s Goats at international level.

Bulls’ juniors

The Bulls’ depth at junior level also extends beyond its borders. They will defend their title in the u.21 series over the next few months – and there is catching up to do with the Leopards who beat the young Bulls in the first game on Saturday!

But things are going well on the whole at the Bulls’ clubs where there is such an abundance of junior players that 24 of their club players will represent the Falcons and the Pumas in the under-21 Shield competition.

▪ They are currently also the u.19 champion team This joins the BBRU which in collaboration with Uxi Sport established the cross-border u.20 series this year with the aim of giving young club players the opportunity to develop their skills .

There were 21 club teams participating in the series in three divisions, the North, South and Central regions, with under-20 teams from the Cheetahs, Blue Bulls, Pumas, Griquas, Falcons, Leopards and the WP’s rugby unions competing against each other. has.

Northern Transvaal’s three representatives who qualified for the play-off between the unions are Tukkies, Naka and Centurion.