National Sport

Vodacom Bulls make a Super Rugby comeback

THORISO PHASHA
The Vodacom Bulls looked eager to bounce back when they hosted the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday 5 March at Loftus Versfeld. After the team endured a tough start to the 2016 Super Rugby season with a defeat against the Stormers, they won back the hopes of disgruntled fans with a 45-25 victory.

Read more: Vodacom Bulls make a Super Rugby comeback

Sascoc dashes Olympic hockey dreams

THANDO CELE
On 1 November 2015 the SA men’s and women’s hockey teams were crowned African champions after winning the Greenfields African Hockey Championships. According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Hockey Federation (FIH) standards, winning the tournament meant that the hockey Proteas automatically qualified for this year’s Rio Olympics.

However, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), the largest sporting body in the country and the body that oversees all sport issues in South Africa, has deemed the competition within the continent to be too easy a route for the Proteas to qualify. They have therefore insisted that the teams need to finish in the top three of their rounds of the Hockey World League to qualify, instead. Both teams narrowly missed out on their targets, which has led to Sascoc preventing them from competing in Rio.

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Varsity Cup past players: Jesse Kriel and Handre Pollard

ZUKO QUSHEKA

Varsity Cup is a league to be reckoned with, breathing into the dreams of many up-and-coming rugby players who hope represent their country in green and gold. The popular phrase “back your boytjies” could very well be the start of backing your future Springbok stars. UP has seen particular success with two former TuksRugby players, Jesse Kriel and Handre Pollard, who have captured South African hearts with their recent World Cup performance.

The two youngsters, who ply their trade for the Blue Bulls, have enjoyed a meteoric rise to the Springboks. Both played in the same u/18 Craven Week tournament in 2012, putting in performances that drew the necessary attention to set their professional rugby careers in motion. Pollard’s step up to TuksRugby and then quickly on to the Blue Bulls has been a fairy tale rise for the youngster, whose talent has seen him keep up with older teammates also vying for the number 10 rugby jersey. His form in of Super Rugby last year made sure he was guaranteed a spot on the trip to the World Cup. With his boot and some exquisite vision, Pollard has been terrorising opposition defences since his high school days and is set to continue in the coming years as he matures in the Blue Bulls and Springboks backline.

Read more: Varsity Cup past players: Jesse Kriel and Handre Pollard

Understanding the hype: NBA All-Star Weekend

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THANDO CELE

The National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Weekend is an annual American weekend-long entertainment festival that is usually held in the second week of February. It consists of a vast number of exhibition games, basketball events, and performances from artists and comedians alike during the course of the weekend, all building up to the finale of the festival: the NBA All-Star Game, which takes place on the Sunday night. This year’s version of the All-Star Game took place in Toronto at the Ricoh Coliseum (home of the Toronto Raptors) and was the first time that the All-Star Game was held outside the US.

This year’s NBA All-Star Weekend kicked off on Friday 12 February, with the highlight of the evening being the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game that saw a matchup of Team Canada vs Team USA. It was hosted by Canadian rapper Drake and four-time Celebrity Game Most Valuable Player (MVP) and stand-up comedian Kevin Hart. It featured 21 players, including actors Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Anthony Anderson, O'Shea Jackson, Jr., Joel David Moore and Tom Cavanagh, and TV hosts Nick Cannon and Terrence Jenkins. The game also included four NBA legends in Chauncey Billups, Muggsy Bogues, Tracy McGrady and Rick Fox, as well as Elena Delle Donne and Tammy Sutton-Brown of the WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association).

Saturday night’s finale came in the form of the Slam Dunk Contest. This competition showcases the creativity and athletic ability of some of the league's youngest, best dunkers. The competition is always judged rather subjectively, according to the unique preferences of the individual judges. After each dunk (or attempted dunk), competitors are awarded a mark out of 10 from five judges, giving a possible high score of 50. The 2016 final was contested between Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic and defending champion Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Close comparisons were drawn between NBA legends Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins. LaVine defended his title against Gordon, after multiple rounds of sudden death.

Read more: Understanding the hype: NBA All-Star Weekend

Thousands enter Spar Women’s Race in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

CARLI-ANN FURNO AND ERIN SLINGERLAND

The annual Spar Women’s Race, also known as South Africa’s Most Beautiful Race, is an event that encourages women from all over the country to come together and participate in either a 5 km or 10 km run. On Sunday 11 October a record 13 358 people gathered at the starting line near the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.

Lebogang Phalula proved to have entered the event with determination when she crossed the 10 km finish line first in a time of just over 35 minutes, followed by Rutendo Nyahora and Diana-Lebo Phalula. All runners received a free pink T-shirt upon arrival, and although it was a women’s event, men were also seen blending into the crowd with pink attire and dressed in drag.

Read more: Thousands enter Spar Women’s Race in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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