There are the two Currie Cup matches being played this weekend. The Bulls, who have been in rampant form all season, play host to Western Province. Back in the day this was always the big game of the Currie Cup, with the two unions having the most Currie Cup trophies between them. Admittedly, the competition has lost its lustre in recent times. The Bulls should win, but perhaps in the 9-point range. The other semi-final pits the Sharks up against Griquas in Durban, where the hosts should win comfortably, also by 9-plus points.
New Zealand’s All Blacks have been rampant this season, although they’ve yet to be tested by the world champion and Lions-taming Springboks. This weekend, in the Rugby Championship, the Kiwis are up against the Australians, who they’ve dominated recently. This should again be a big (15+ points difference) win for New Zealand.
There are no English Premiership matches this weekend, with an International break allowing for 2022 World Cup qualifiers to take place. There are no real mouth-watering games on display however, but the likes of Ireland, Netherlands, Denmark, France, Ukraine and Wales are all in action this weekend. South Africa open their campaign with a match against Zimbabwe.
The PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship is under way and this is the event where the big bucks are. It features the top 30 money-earners on the Tour’s FedEx list and there are two South Africans in the field – Louis Oosthuizen and Erik van Rooyen. King Louis has had a grand year and he has become an ATM, seemingly printing money, while also getting back into the top 10 in the world. Van Rooyen himself has broken through on the PGA Tour, winning for the first time. Now the cheques (or is it EFTs?) start rolling in!
The Dutch Grand Prix takes place on Sunday and it’s a home race for Max Verstappen. Yet again it looks to be a race where Verstappen in his Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes are set to fight it out. Hamilton seems to have had a tough week. He wasn’t happy with last week’s grand prix where there were a couple of laps nbehind the safety car – Verstappen had pole – before the weather forced the race to be called off and then half points were dished out based on what had happened in qualifying. Then, to make Hamilton’s week worse, news leaked that George Russell will replace Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as Hamilton’s “teammate”. Hamilton won’t take it sitting down that Russell is less of a “yes-man” than Bottas is.
The US Open is currently nearing the end of week one and it’s impossible to make predictions with so many matches up in the air. However, the big talking point for me was the long toilet breaks that Stefanos Tsitsipas took while getting past veteran Andy Murray in a five-set first round match. There are suggestions he was using the breaks to be “coached”, via WhatsApps – which is illegal – or, at best, was using the time to try to get Murray off his game. Tsitsipas went through in five sets. While Novak Djokovic is the hot favourite to go all the way in the men, the US Open is the one Grand Slam where it’s thrown up some upset results. Daniil Medvedev might just be the one to test, and beat the seemingly invincible Djokovic in New York.
Tokyo 2020 Paralympics
The curtain comes down on Tokyo’s Paralympics, nearly a month after the Tokyo Olympics was completed. Team SA’s Paralympians have done better in terms of medals returns than their able-bodied counterparts, with athletes Ntando Mahlangu and Anrune Weyers being the most successful of the Paralympians. The last South African competitor will be blind athlete Louzanne Coetzee, who competes in Sunday’s marathon. She won the silver medal in the 1500m earlier in the week.
The postponed Kenilworth meeting from last weekend, called off due to the wet conditions, is being staged at the same venue tomorrow. The main event is still the Sophomore Sprint (Listed) over 1200m, but an interesting addition to the field is the Anton Marcus-ridden Safe Return. He is the highest merit rated three-year-old in the field (MR 98), but preference remains the GGG-sponsored Bass Racing trained colt Xavion, who will be partnered by Aldo Domeyer.