Rob Houwing

Shimmy’s shaping up on TV

2013-08-02 09:49
Rob Houwing (File)
His rugby career reached the very highest levels of competition, but he will also forever be remembered as the hooker who spent near-unprecedented amounts of time warming benches.
So it is pleasing that Hanyani 'Splinters' Shimange, now 35 and retired, is clearly getting plenty of personal satisfaction through ongoing involvement in rugby.

Shimange is nowadays a regular presence on SuperSport live offerings on the sport, and I feel his broadcasting star is quite nicely on the rise.

For all his struggles to nail down regular starting berths in a career that featured nine Springbok caps, he is – usefully for TV knowledge purposes – well-travelled in South Africa following first-class stints in Cape Town (where he is now permanently based), Bloemfontein, Durban and elsewhere.

Shimange is also one of those rugby men who isn’t shy to show genuine enthusiasm for schools and club rugby: also an asset considering that the pay channel’s cameras get around to those types of venues much more often than they used to.

He is a proud 'Bosch' product (Rondebosch Boys’ High School) and recently got even more intimately involved at club level once more because he has taken over coaching reins at UCT – one of his most pressing tasks will be to improve on their modest 2013 Varsity Cup performance, early next year.

Once a member of a world title-winning Junior Bok front row that also included, if I remember correctly, a certain John Smit and Lawrence Sephaka, Shimange is a good judge of the science and politics of scrummaging (I say 'politics' because its policing by referees sometimes seems so subjective and confusing) and forward play more broadly.

He has a jovial and nerveless manner and occasionally exhibits a natural sense of humour as well, whether behind the mike in live play or doing pitch-side work.
Any agreement out there?

Rob’s Awesome Foursome:

1. Sri Lanka v South Africa, 1st & 2nd T20 cricket internationals
Colombo & Hambantota, Friday & Sunday 15:30, SS2, SHD2, CSN 

This mini-series rises so soon out of the burning wreckage of the Proteas’ 1-4 defeat in the ODIs that a turnaround to win the Twenty20 phase would go down as pretty remarkable.

Of course there is a case for saying South Africa have been too bad to be true on tour in ‘Lanka thus far, meaning that the only way must be up.

These contests could be closer, too, given that an ability to grab wickets regularly is arguably less important in the much more condensed format than it is in the 50-overs variety – it’s an area where the Proteas’ bowlers often looked so impotent in the ODIs.

Greater devotion to basic discipline (far fewer wides would be a good start) could bring some reward in the quest for revenge ...

2. Chiefs v Brumbies, Super Rugby final
Hamilton, Saturday 09:35, M-Net, SS1, SHD

Interest in the competition has probably nosedived in South Africa, given that the Bulls frustratingly blew our only chance of a berth in the showpiece game.

Now it’s a NZ v Oz final ... and maybe we should fret just a little over the fact that the grand prize hasn’t landed in a South African cabinet since the advent of the conference system?

Nevertheless, local rugby purists will still watch the Waikato Stadium clash, and perhaps be slightly partial toward the Brumbies, given the enormity of their task in unseating the champions after a long trek from Pretoria, coupled with our own Jake White’s holding of the head coach post at the Canberra franchise.

Considering the intensity of their own, breathless semi against the Crusaders, the Chiefs may not be in maximum physical and mental fettle themselves ... but yes, I still have to fancy them. The Mooloos by around eight points?

3. Black Aces v Kaizer Chiefs, Premiership soccer
Mbombela, Friday 20:00, SS4 & SHD4

This may not necessarily look like the most glamorous soccer offering for the weekend on paper, but it’s the first PSL fixture of the new season – a Friday night standalone – and an opportunity to assess the credentials of champions Chiefs for a repeat of the league silverware.

Aces may be just returning to the big-time after a spell in the relative wilderness, but some critics (notably former Bafana coach Clive Barker) fancy them to do rather better than just survive.

Mbombela Stadium is an appealing sports venue and there should be a healthy spread of supporters for both the Mpumalanga outfit and the ever-popular nationwide Amakhosi.

I’m going 1-0 Chiefs.

4. Lions v Kings, Super Rugby 2nd leg promotion/relegation
Johannesburg, Saturday 17:00, SS1, SHD & CSN

The Kings are certainly up against it in the decisive leg of this playoff series, not only with a deficit of seven points from the PE clash to make up, but also the news that Ellis Park – surely one of the most intimidating places on the rugby planet – is going to be well nigh full.

Still, the fat lady hasn’t yet put on her pearls, and maybe the very need to be up-tempo in Jo’burg will bring out the best in the visitors?

But I will say this much: if the Lions cross the 'wash' for a seven-pointer very quickly, it ought to really knock the wind from their opponents’ sails and go a long way to ensuring the Lions’ comeback to the senior Super Rugby fray.

It will be passionate, especially in the first few minutes, and is a worthy headline act in SA on Saturday now that local interest in the 2013 Super Rugby final has dissolved.

Behind the SuperSport mikes will be Highveld old firm Messrs Bladen and Stransky (English), Hennie Koortzen and Breyton Paulse (Afrikaans) and Kaunda Ntunja and Makhaya Jack (Xhosa), with Robbie Kempson the sideline guy.

Read more on:    super 15  |  psl  |  rob houwing  |  cape town  |  rugby  |  soccer  |  cricket

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