1. In terms of playing rugby, you have been around the world. Which club did you find the most fascinating to play for?
Galashiels, Scotland 96/97 season. Having not played, much senior rugby previously (just finished my U/19 – 21 season) I walked straight into a “professional” club environment, where rugby is religion with a fanatic local fan base. Gala Rugby Football Club based in the Scottish Borders was founded in 1875 with a rich history and pride. The team competed in the Scottish National League, and the Border League.
To make life more interesting I was moved to inside centre (future Scottish star Chris Patterson was being groomed at 10) a position I had hardly played, and met some interesting characters in this inside channel.
2. What was it like to play rugby in the USA and do you see their rugby programme becoming very well supported?
- Well, I played in the USA in 1999/2000 when the fire department put up wooden poles for rugby posts on certain away fields prior to kick off. There was no professional infra-structure yet, but a small national league and strong contingent of rugby lovers wanting to grow the game. I was fortunate to have landed up at the Gents (Gentleman of Aspen RFC) who was at that stage National & Ruggerfest Champions.
- I was already back then, blown away by the sheer size of the country, the vast player pool available and the NFL franchises, thinking if rugby ever took off, what a force the USA would be to reckon with.
See my blogpost 12 years later covering the Rise of USA Rugby
3. You had a few serious injuries in your playing career. What helped you to stay focused on your rugby goals despite the setbacks?
- I certainly did, major surgery on both knees, 2 Achilles tendon raptures to name a few …. this led to even more problems of a personal nature that put my rugby life on hold. Fighting for my own …
- To be quite honest, no institute, psychiatrist, or recovery programs could do what rugby did for me … because through finding God, this was where I turned to at my lowest. I knew the principles I once held so high, discipline, commitment, hard work, perseverance and the help of friends (teammates) stood me in good stead, for a large part of my life! I knew I had so much to give back … then I made the decision. The rest is history, I can proudly say, rugby saved my life! By being grateful for the talents I received from our Father, treasuring it, realising how fortunate we are to be able to play or just be part of this beautiful game … that was the secret to my “comeback” despite these setbacks!
4. Coaching is your passion. How did you go about setting up KAIWHANA rugby academy and what does it stand for?
- KAIWHANA Rugby Academy was born from necessity on the 8th of November 2011 at the start of winter in Aurora, Ontario. As the first Canadian snow fell, I moved my off-season training group indoors, renting space in a massive indoor arena with perfect artificial turf. Since I have facilitated and help set up off-season focussed clinics under the KAIWHANA Rugby Academies banner in places like Aurora, Markham, Toronto, Knysna, Cape Town & Somerset West.
- In general Maori dialect, KAIWHANA translated to “revolutionary” and this fit my profile like a glove, but when I found The Pocket Dictionary of Modern Maori stating KAIWHANA being “kicker” I knew I had found my rugby vehicle’s name “KAIWHANA Rugby”
5. Where is your academy based and are you looking to expand it?
- I am very fortunate to have been involved with Parel Vallei High School in Somerset West the last 5 years. This has allowed me to run my primary school clinics and base the off-season kicking academy on the beautiful Helderberg school campus!
- I am not necessarily looking at expansion, I merely widened my scope of operations by starting a KAIWHANA Rugby World blog in 2010, launching a You Tube channel and administrating KAIWHANA Rugby’s various social media pages on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. This has helped to spread the word and our philosophy that “Rugby’s not just a game, it’s a way of life …”
6. You currently work at Parel Vallei High School. What was one of the factors that helped Parel Vallei to be promoted into the 1st division in rugby?
- I think what everyone needs to understand is the first & only requirement for Premier inclusion is a minimum number of teams (Premier B, 10 – 14 & Premier A, 15 & more) My first challenge 5 years ago when I joined in October 2015 was to grow our program. This amazing opportunity came after a chance meeting with Mrs Kets (PV Director of Sports) where-after I was offered a 5-year contract to turn the rugby ship around by Mr David Schenck, newly appointed headmaster at PV.
- PV Rugby only consisted of 5 rugby teams back then, and due to this played in the WP High School’s A1 league. Here they found themselves at the bottom of log, and morale was at its lowest all-round.
After sustained growth and an ever-growing list of A1 and Premier B scalps the union gave us the go ahead and due promotion to the Premier group of top 16 rugby schools in Cape Town!
7. How was the 1st XV’s season this year and what will one of your focus points be for next season?
- What a season we experienced, a historic one indeed, in the WP High Schools Premier Rugby league. This ended in dramatic fashion against Pearson High, falling short 27-28. We managed a 55%-win ratio between the big dogs, also losing 4 of our matches with 5 points or less … bad decision making, individualism and not taking points when on offer were trademarks of our season. I learnt and grew from this season as coach in leaps and bounds, I trust my players did too.
- In conjunction with Mr Schenck, we have revisited our program looking at coaches and their appointment to teams. In my new capacity as Director of Rugby going forward, I have been relieved as 1st XV coach for 2020. My recommendations to our new 1st XV coaches will be an increased level of fitness and conditioning, as well as a very strong skill development component year-round, in every practise session!
Notable 2019 highlights:
* Historic inclusion to the WP High School’s Rugby Premier League
* 1st XV included in the WP Top Schools Rugby Day at Newlands
* 4 players included in WP u/18 Invitational XV at the World School’s Rugby Festival
* 5 players included in WP Academy XV at Craven Week 2019
8. You are a busy person with lots on the go but would you say that Parel Vallei is hungry for success and will continue to push the boundaries?
I know we are, just last night I highlighted this at my Rugby Parents Committee year end function! At our social event where the members could unwind, socialise and relax I remarked that for an hour their talk was centred on what they could do differently and better next year! I always push boundaries on a personal level, striving to improve. My parents, players and coaches have the same “Bulldog Spirit” driving them … that is one of “Never Giving Up”
9. What are some of the things we can look forward to with regards to Parel Vallei’s upcoming season?
- 8 Fixtures including the big one, our annual trans-provincial Interschools clash against Pearson High, to be held at Camp Bulldog!
- The unveiling of Jawitz Properties as our new main sponsor for the next 3 years!
- Last but not least, after 5 years of building a fully functional rugby program with depth in each age-group, our spectators can look forward to a unique Bulldog Brand of rugby on display from next year!
The vision and brain child of Mr Schenck our headmaster, rugby lover and experienced WP Rugby man… (or as I like to call him, the president of our PV Rugby club)
10. You follow Pegasus Publishing. How informative do you find the posts and would you recommend it to your colleagues to follow?
I recently started following Pegasus Publishing fervently, as it offered a fresh new perspective on not just schoolboy rugby, but rugby in general. I have grown tired of the mainstream schoolboy rugby blogs and sites that week after week sing the same songs, and push the same agenda. I have and will continue recommending and sharing Pegasus Publishing with colleagues and rugby friends world-wide!
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