Interviewed by Shana Devitt with the assistance of Katleho Lynch.
1. How long have you been a schoolmaster and what schools have you been involved with?
I started teaching in 1989 at Sir Pierre van Ryneveld High school in Kempton Park. The first year there I coached u/15’s. In 1990, after the then rugby organiser left, I took over rugby and literally coached all four age groups due to not having any other male staff to assist [the school also played soccer]. That same year I became involved with Golden Lions High School Rugby. I left in 1997 to start my own business which I sold mid-2001 and then took up a post at Northcliff High and have been here ever since. Through the years my involvement with Golden Lions High School Rugby continued – this has been and is still a huge privilege to serve.
2. What are your thoughts on the lockdown and the impact it has on rugby?
The lockdown and the effects thereof is huge!! The amount of time and effort that went into preparing for this season by every school, club and individual players sadly seem to be in vain at this stage. Let alone the cost – every one of the 1000+ primary and high schools have laid out copious amounts of money from their own school fees in many instances as well as sponsors which came on board for 2020 to provide not just clothing and equipment but also to provide well cared facilities – again was all this done in vain? At this stage there is no indication whether the season, if any, will go ahead in any format. Another sad part to this is the senior players at both primary and high schools [Grade 7/12] that might not even have the opportunity to represent their schools and perhaps the better ones amongst them, their provinces!! Harsh as it is – the first priority is to counter and stop the effects of this deadly virus. If we manage to play any school rugby – good; if not, as long as we all come out healthy on the other side.
3. What is the one thing that excites you about being the chairman of the Golden Lions High School Association for so many years?
To be able to serve the sport I LOVE!! It is not without its challenges – but to conclude a successful season and enjoy the fruits of this success cannot be explained. I am a biker and I have a t-shirt with the slogan referring to why a person choose to ride: “ I’ll try to explain, but you won’t understand”. And this is so true about my involvement with rugby and exactly why am still doing it – it is not for me – it is for every school, coach and player involved in school rugby. It is a privilege to serve. And one day when I am old and retired, sitting on my stoep, I will be able to look back at all the wonderful opportunities and memories rugby gave me!
4. What is the one thing that rugby has taught you?
Humility – it is not about me. It is about serving the sport and everyone involved in it.
5. Define the qualities of a good coach that you relate close to?
To be a good human being which can manage people well and rather earn respect from people through who he is a person rather than a forceful attitude and demeanour. Obviously knowledge of the game, coaching experience et al is necessary. Ultimately a coach will be working with other coaches and players – how he manage this is the key to getting the best out of others.
6. In your opinion who is the best coach that has come through the Golden Lions schools system?
Every coach that have ever coached at school level, primary and high school – without them rugby will not be played at senior level, is the best coach!! To name one would just be unfair. There are many and they might not have coached at a higher level but I will mention the following: Jake White who started coaching at Jeppe Boys, Norman McFarland who was an institution at King Edward VII, Hans Coetzee who was an institution at Hoërskool Monument, Oupa van der Merwe who was at Hoërskool Monument, Carl Spilhaus currently at Jeppe Boys, Mzwake Nkosi from King Edward VII.
7. Do you believe that there is a pathway for coaches to come through the pathway at school level to pro-level?
Yes – although limited the best ones will make it to the top. I strongly believe that the best coaches are the ones who started their coaching as school boy coaches teaching rugby to the young ones who is still learning to play. There they are forced to focus on the basics of rugby and to be a good coach means attention to these small details.
8. What does it take to be a school provincial coach?
Hard work and commitment, dedication to the sport and above all a student of the game. No coach will ever know everything. To be a provincial coach you need to accept that you must and can learn from anybody, even from players!
9. Northcliff have really improved as a rugby school. What are you guys doing to accelerate your growth?
We have a common vision that we want to be the best, not only in rugby but in every sport, cultural activities and academically! With regard to rugby – it is a combined effort between school management and rugby staff. We coach the same way and structure from u/14 all the way to 1st XV. Success breeds success and marketing the successes actively is an essential part of aiming to be the best and getting the best players. The fact that we have improved as much as we have over the last couple of years is noticed by those from primary schools – instead of moving to the so called rugby schools we have more and more players who have played rugby at primary school coming to Northcliff. Add to this academic excellence and you have the full package at an affordable cost – not only can the kids play rugby at a high level, they can also walk away with an excellent education.
10. We believe that you are a bike fanatic? What are you currently riding now?
Yes I am biker and I love it! The freedom of the open road cannot be explained to someone. Currently I am the proud owner of a 2016 BMW 1200 GSA. I am fortunate to have a wonderful wife who equally enjoy biking. Towing the bike behind our self-build motorhome and exploring the wild yonder out there is extremely satisfying and relaxing.
11. What is the quote you live by?
I have immense respect for Vince Lombardi: “The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there”. If you want to get somewhere in life there is no free ride. You have to work for it! And one thing I decided early in my life: I never want anybody to look over my shoulder to ensure the work gets done! Many who know me well would rather say I must use Frank Sinatra: ”My Way”.
12. Do you follow Pegasus Publishing on social media and if so, what do you enjoy reading the most on their page.
Yes I do. Rugby with such a large following in South Africa and around the world is such a news making activity that is enjoyable to follow what is going on out there. More so when it focus on what happen in areas where some of the news worthy items don’t make it into the mainstream news. The fact that you guys are covering some of this unknown news is highly appreciated.
13. Pegasus Publishing has been producing your GLRU Schools Fixture Programme for a number of years now. What affect and role do you feel this has played with the schools – players, staff and coaching staff in general?
Information is one of the wheels which turn society. We need to get the information related to rugby out there. The booklet published is an extremely useful tool which contains and make all the information regarding rugby within a province available in one place – from provincial to club to schools. At any given time all those involved with the sport in the province have access.
A closing statement – and I will once again use a Vince Lombardi quote: “Some of us will do our jobs well, some will not. But we will be judged by only one thing – the result”. I can only hope that what I have done and have achieved through my involvement has been done well. We always say to the players – leave the jersey in a better place than what you have received it. I trust I will do that when I retire!
There is only one ball – a RUGBY BALL.
There is only one sport – Rugby.
ALSO READ: Coaches Corner with Katleho Lynch