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Kevin McCallum Masthead
November 17 2014 at 11:33

Dylan Girdlestone will become the next South African cyclist to take another step on to the international stage after he signed for Drapac, an Australian Pro Continental team.
 
There is a South African twist to the story as Girdlestone will be riding on a team sponsored by Swift Carbon bikes, a company founded by former South African professional Mark Blewett. His agent is former South African pro, Robbie Hunter, the first South African to win a stage at the Tour de France back in 2007.
 
“It’s for sure the biggest contract of my career,” said |Girdlestone, who is currently with Team Bonitas. 
 
“I’ll be moving over to Australia to be with the team, meeting up on November 28 for the first camp, which will see us get our kit and new bikes and then again on December 28, which will be a proper training camp. The Australian guys will be preparing for the national champs. It’ll be a hard camp.”
 
Drapac will mostly be based in Australia, but their Pro Continental licence puts them on the same level as South Africa’s MTN Qhubeka, who rode in the Tour of Spain, a World Tour event, this year. 
 
Their programme will involve races in Asia, Australia and the United States, with aims to take it up another level next year to Europe. Girdlestone’s hopes are to make the line-up for the Tour Down Under, the first World Tour event of the year.
 
“The Tour Down Under is the first big race I want to race for them. There is also the Herald Sun Tour in Australia, which I’ve raced in before for MTN Qhubeka. Then there is the Tour of California, Utah, USA Pro Challenge, Cadel Evans Challenge, Tour of Korea, races in Oman and Dubai.
 
“I approached Drapac a few years ago. I’d raced against them in the Sun Tour. They looked like MTN and had the same feel. My dad and my brother live in New Zealand and my brother rides for the Drapac feeder team. He’ll be based in Melbourne, where I will be, although I may look for somewhere cheaper to live. I’ll be riding some races with him.”
Hunter organised Girdlestone a spell with Garmin-Sharp, the team he rode for in his last few years as a professional. It was an |experience that opened the eyes of the young man. 
 
“It was the best thing that could have happened to me. |They were great and helped by sending me to France for two months. I got to race in France, Spain and Austria. I won a race, got a second and third and a King of the Mountains.
 

“Riding at the level |Garmin-Sharp operate at is a |completely different world. It’s hard in its own way. It’s a different level. Much more tactical and a different kind of hard. It’s smart racing. In South Africa we don’t do tactics as well. Everyone is just going crazy, shooting from the hip. It’s mad from the gun. 

“In Europe, it’s an insane level at the end when everyone is |fighting. But you go in more relaxed and smarter because |of that.”
Girdlestone describes himself as more of a “tour rider, I don’t |classify myself as a climber, not at World Tour level. I do well on multi-day races as I have that strength.”

Girdlestone began riding at school after his superbike-riding father broke his legs in an |accident. The doctor suggested cycling as a way of rehab, the bug bit and his father became more competitive. Girdlestone junior joined in. He rode his first race in Sabie on an old Raleigh, then moved to road at 16, rode for MTN Qhubeka for a few years before spending some time at Westvaal BMC (“The best years of my |career, thus far.”) and now Bonitas.

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November 14 2014 at 12:02

 At around the same time as Baleka Mbete, the Speaker of the National Assembly, was struggling with recognition and telling the opposition, “You wish”, in Parliament yesterday, Jerome Valcke, secretary general of Fifa, was doing a damn fine impression of the ad hoc committee on Nkandla in Pretoria.

 
Valcke, in the country to mark four years of the World Cup Legacy programme, spoke on the findings regarding the bids of Qatar and Russia, insisting they were above board.
 
“Fifa didn’t clear Russia and Qatar, it was Ethics Committee, that’s important to note.” 
Yes, but the Fifa’s Ethics Committee belongs to Fifa as much as the Nkandla ad hoc committee belonged to the ANC.
The outcome was pre-determined. The good news, someone sharp tweeted yesterday, is that Fifa have come to the conclusion that they are not, according to them, corrupt. The ANC have done the same thing.
 
Instead, it was the English, the staunchest critics of the bids of both countries in their media and parliament, who found the spotlight turned on them for cosying up to Jack Warner of Concacaf with promises and the odd, well-laundered bribe. 
 
A backhander remains a backhander, no matter if it is to pay for a dinner or cash stuffed into a wallet. It is, though, a distraction tactic by Fifa, much like the previous regime of Cricket South Africa orchestrated against Gauteng Cricket when they dared challenge them over the running of the 2009 IPL.
 
“It must be made clear that President (Sepp) Blatter did not violate the FCE (Fifa Code of Ethics). The one concrete allegation against the President, concerning an account purportedly held in his name at a US bank, was demonstrably false,” announced Fifa. 
 
“Mr Blatter has implemented a number of critical reforms, including those that made this inquiry possible. The bidding process established by Fifa was for the most part fair and thorough, although the executive committee’s obligations in that process\[morgan.bolton\] – including its members’ obligations to abide the same reporting requirements placed on the bid teams - ... should have been made more explicit.”
 
It wouldn’t seem out of place to insert “Zuma” for “Blatter” and “bidding process” for “Nkandla”.
 
Michael Garcia, who was appointed by Fifa to investigate the bidding race for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, has said that the report, written by a German judge who headed up the adjudicatory arm of the Ethics Committee, Hans-Joachim Eckert, has misrepresented his conclusions.
 

“(It) contains numerous, materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions detailed in the Investigatory Chamber’s report. I intend to appeal this decision to the Fifa Appeal Committee.” 

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November 10 2014 at 11:05

 Under the big red tent near the start of the Momentum 94.7 Mountain Bike Challenge yesterday, a man took a picture of the front of his bike.

He didn’t quite like the angle of the handlebars, and turned them a shade to the right so that he could get in the race number attached to the front of the bars. He snapped, frowned, smiled, snapped and then showed the picture to his wife, who was flapping like a turtle in the bean bags in the tent.

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November 7 2014 at 11:59

 The near flambéing of Australian T20 skipper Aaron Finch by a flame thrower in their defeat by the Proteas in Adelaide on Wednesday made him angry. 

 
Or so the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday, with the headline “Aaron Finch angered after incident with flame thrower”.
 
In the piece, Finch is quoted as saying: “I sort of stood off, waiting for them to go off. 
“And when they didn’t (I thought) they must have pulled the pin on them for that time – and then bang. It was a shock, I can tell you. I’m sure it could be quite dangerous.” 
 
So he was shocked, but, well, no mention of anger there, but, heck, why let that stop an editor seeking an adjective to bump the headline to fit instead of pumping up the font size or playing with the leading?
 
Finch was right, though, it was dangerous. It would have been doubly so if Doug Bollinger had got too close to the flames with that Russian-made hair he had trans-planted on his once-bald noggin back in 2008. 
 
Greg Matthews, the former Australian all-rounder, signed Bollinger up for the deal with his hair company. 
 
Matthews was described as a man with “extravagant affectations, cool lingo and dogged fighting spirit which briefly made him the most hip player in the country” by Greg Baum on cricinfo. 
 
“I’m sure the hair will make Doug feel better about himself. If you feel good about yourself, you become a better man, and if you’re a better man, you’ll become a better cricketer. 
“Doug was broke and bald when he first met Tegan (now his wife). Now he’s got hair and cash – and an Australian contract.”
 
The hair, admittedly, looks good. It’s a little like T20 cricket; you think it’s a bit thick, but you find yourself liking it anyway. As did many on Sunday at the Ram Slam T20 Challenge triple header at the Wanderers. 
 
It was a long day, and, thanks to Eskom and Joburg City Power, it was a longer day. There was power around, but not enough of it to enable TV sets or the main scoreboard to work properly. T20 demands TV replays. 
 
So do sports journalists, and the scorers in the press box worked their socks off to ensure we knew who was out, when, where and how, and how many they had scored. 
 
It was like cricket reporting from the mid-eighties, except for the pesky dictating of copy.
 
The power came on near the end, the generators (“We have enough diesel to run them for four days,” one Gauteng Cricket Board official told me) being cranked up to warp factor 11, so the scoreboard finally worked. 

Through it all, the stadium DJ never seemed to lack for power, and the flame throwers never missed a beat.

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November 3 2014 at 12:07

 In The Star’s sports department weekly planning meeting in the hallowed halls of the World of Beer in Newtown, a reoccurring debate goes about just how a newspaper should go about revisiting a match for our Monday readers. Some believe the immediacy of the interweb means that a match report is redundant.

 
They want a quotes piece, more analysis and looking ahead. 
 
“Looking ahead” is a common phrase in newsrooms these days. 
 
I’ve never truly understood what exactly it means, although I suspect it is a heady mixture of speculation, guesswork and a lot of looking backward to look forward. I always argue for a timeline of the big match on Saturday for Monday papers, recounting the detail of play.
 
The planet has developed a collective short-term memory because of the interweb, and, save for the score and the best try of the match, come Monday few could tell you exactly what happened. I rarely win the argument. One day I will. Hell, let’s start with today.
 
On Saturday, the Barbarians and the Wallabies played one of the most enjoyable games of rugby you could have wished to watch. It was rugby with a smile, a devil-may-care show of skill and enjoyment. 
 
It was captured quite magnificently by the BaaBaas official Twitter feed (@Barbarian_FC), who made the game all that more delightful. The tweeter understood the power of short, sharp writing, had a good knowledge of the game and, most importantly, was witty. 
 
Here, for those of you who didn’t get to see the match and for those of you who did and can’t quite remember all of it, is a timeline of one of the great games of the weekend.
 
 “Briefing with the ref for the bigger lads to clarify how to legally crash into each other! #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
“Kick off. Show time. Great |atmosphere. Early observation - @QantasWallabies Will Skelton is colossal.Enourmous #rugby #rugbyunited #baabaas”
 
 “First scrum leads to pen for Baabaas. Stevens leading charge. Loves a scrum almost as much as Graham Rowntree #rugby #rugbyunited #baabaas”
 
“NFL quarterback lineout throw. Boys have come to play! Good hustle #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
“Strong defence from #baabaas so far. Big first up hits. Parsons is marauding around clattering anything vaguely gold #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
 “7 mins gone. 0-0 still. Match besieged between 10 metre lines. Wild west stand off. Who will blink first... #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
 “Now we’re cooking. Classy dink from Slade to de Jongh then |backhanded offload from Thomson. Champagne stuff #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
“#baabaas held up over line. Penalty. Reverse chip on tap & go befuddled Wallabies. Agonising knock on. Ole ole ole #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
“Try! Offloads aplenty & a slalom finish from the Kiwi giant Frank Halai. Oosh. #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited #BARvAUS”
 
 “#baabaas bubbling away like a post-hangover Berocca tablet. Nearly a try then Wallabies batter down left flank. Power #rugby #rugbyunited”\[michael.oakley\]l “Huge hits from both sides. Honey Badger with an interception then gang tackled. #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
“Wallaby defence intense. Flying into #baabaas like West End |bouncers handling a rowdy stag party. No prisoners #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
 “Wallabies may have scored. Crowd say knock on in middle of move...TMO having a peak from his TV den #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
 “Try given. Crowd not impressed. Cheerleaders are on. Crowd are now impressed.. 5-7 26mins #rugby #rugbyunited #baabaas”
 
 “Neoooow!! Superb try from #baabaas Footwork, multiple |offloads & darting finish. Try time. Thomson. 12-7 #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
 “Fair play. Good try from Benn Robinson as pressure tells. Good game of what Honey Badger calls ‘footy’ 12-14. #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
“Massive defensive effort. Wave after wave from Wallabies. Relentless defence. TMO says ball short. Phew. #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
 “Penalty! #baabaas lift the siege. Much needed supplies (water) are ferried on. #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
 “Superb kick chase produces a sliding turnover by Halai. Then offload fumbled. Another huge walloping hit. Half time 12-14 #baabaas #rugby”
 
 “Up the ante, up the energy & give it a lash. No regrets. Half time message #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
 “Here we go. Round 2. Grab some chips, sup that pint & get ready to rumble. #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
 “Nearly an intercept by de Jongh. Pops in & then out of bread basket. Agonising. #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
“Clean break & try for Aussies. 13 regally glided through the hole with a single ticket to try town.. 12-21 #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
 “Hold the phone. #baabaas may have notched a ‘meat pie’ here. Saili chasing chip ahead like a rabbit down a hole. TMO #baabaas #rugby”
 
 “Try! TMO presses the button. Sladey slaps it through from outwide. Party back on #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
“Thomson is a #rugby Starbucks today. He’s literally everywhere. Can’t avoid the bloke. Warrior 19-21 #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
 “Slade lines up a pen from halfway. Nails it. Greeted like the bloke who goes out to buy more alcohol at a party. Hero. #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
 “Gnarly nudge from Slade into Cummins gaping arms. Another bamboozling expedition to Wallaby 22m line. 22-21 54. #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
 “Heavy hit after heavy hit. Then a blindside try by Rob Horne. 22-26 #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
“Jurassic Park moment as everyone’s pints mysteriously shake. Then the PA: ‘Substitution: Will Skelton on’ #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
“Muscular defence this. Soaring break from Folau. Caught by Halai. Somehow a try results. Your guess is as good as mine #rugby #rugbyunited”
 
“Halai’s chase tackle & turnover of Folau was mantlepiece moment. He should fight crime. He’d have caught Jack the Ripper #rugbyunited #rugby”
 
“Another mantlepiece moment - Mexican wave catching the big fella with a pint unawares. Splash. #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunion”
 
“Turnover by Matt Todd. He adores the dark, murky space of #rugby. Snaffler #baabaas #rugbyunited”
 
“MEAT PIE! Honey Badger gets his feast as he slithers through a gap & dives under posts 29-40 #baabaas #rugby #rugbyunited #BarvAus”
 
“WOW! Impossible to describe. Stunning try from Boshoff via Badger from 22. Mesmerising. Crowd go ballistic. #rugby #rugbyunited #baabaas”
 

 “36-40. Last minute. Breathless. Stunning. #baabaas throwing kitchen sink at it. Now the sofa #rugby #rugbyunited”

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