Michaelhouse rugby guru gets the Paul Roos top job

Michaelhouse’s Head of Sport Ryno Combrinck, who is widely acknowledged as being one of the best schoolboy rugby coaches in South Africa has been appointed as the Paul Roos Head of Rugby starting in 2018.

Before going on to make a name for himself a strong on discipline coach with an outstanding rugby brain, Combrinck was once upon a time a provincial rugby player and had the distinct honour of playing alongside his brother Gerhard at Northern Transvaal or the Blue Bulls as they have always been known. Rugby genes run in the Combrinck family with nephew and current Lions Super Rugby player Ruan going one step better to become a Springbok.

In spite of a long and proud rugby history, Michaelhouse has only produced four Springboks, Ruan Combrinck, Pat Lambie, Pat Cilliers and Ross Cronje. Significantly all four have earned their international honours within the last decade, making Michaelhouse a top contributor to the SA national cause during this modern era period. Along the way all four of House’s Boks together with a host of other promising school teammates who have also gone on to feature at various levels in provincial rugby, were coached and mentored by Ryno who has been at the private boarding school in Balgowan in the Natal Midlands since 2004. House have produced some outstanding teams during Ryno’s time including their 2015 1st XV which was the first House team in over 100 years to go unbeaten. While Ryno was the capacity of coach or the hands on Director of Rugby, House were definitely known for their enterprising brand of rugby which showcased ball-skills and well-defined player roles. Backline moves executed at pace and with high precision have been amongst the most memorable facets of the play witnessed on the Meadows over the years.

Paul Roos ready to step it up a gear

Paul Roos really does not need any sort of school rugby introduction in SA. They have always been and are likely to continue being one of the most successful schools in the country for generations to come. Along with Affies of Pretoria, Grey College of Bloemfontein and the Paarl schools Boy’s High and Gymnasium, the five schools are often referred to as the “powerhouses” and feel the pressure of high expectations year in year out. However in recent years Paul Roos has ever so slightly slipped into the shadow cast by fellow Winelands region rivals Paarl Boys’ High and Paarl Gymnasium.

Looking at what’s coming through in terms of rugby talent at Paul Roos over the next couple of seasons, there is a lot to suggest that the Maroon Machine is ready for a much larger chunk of the limelight beginning in 2018.

The appointment of new rector Andre van Staten earlier in 2017 has set in motion a process geared towards quickly making up any ground lost in rugby, which is bound to see Paul Roos at the very least knocking harder on the door that containing the number 1 on it.

Acquiring Ryno Combrinck can therefore only be described as a huge coup in that drive to improve on an already good product.

Interestingly in addition to his main rugby role, Ryno looks likely to step into the classroom as a teacher at Paul Roos as well.

KZN churning out top coaches

Ryno is one of a handful of top coaches who have been involved in KZN school rugby. At Hilton, their old boy and coach Brad McLeod-Henderson took time off to win the Currie Cup as the Sharks head coach before returning to his old school. In order to become the most well-known assistant coach in SA provincial rugby, Swys de Bruin had to resign from his post at Northwood before joining the Lions a few years ago. These days Paarl Boys’ High’s head coach Sean Erasmus, formerly of Glenwood in KZN, is arguably the top school rugby coach in SA and with a remarkable three unbeaten seasons (locally) under the belt, one has to say it’s an achievement that legends are made of. Stars on the rise include rated KZN head coaches Jeremy McLaren (Glenwood) and Scott Mathie (DHS), while experienced men like Grant Bell (Clifton) and Barend Steyn (Kearsney) would hold their own at any consistent top achieving rugby school.

Plenty of changes at Michaelhouse

With the term “professionalism” being more topical at Balgowan now than ever before, particularly in light of what’s happening at Hilton College, it’s not the most advantageous time for Michaelhouse to lose the sort of top rugby man who could have guided them in this direction without impacting too greatly on their ethos.

In truth some of those close to the school feel that ever since the Director of Rugby post was made away with a couple of years ago, Ryno Combrinck’s rugby coaching pedigree had not been maximised on and it was showing in the results across the board. Filling the void left by someone of his potential won’t be easy.

The school has already waved goodbye to former 1st XV head coach Michael Schwartz this year. Current 1st XV coach Andre van Wyk has also stepped down but will likely be involved at a junior A-team level. Old boy and provincial rugby physiotherapist James Fleming has been brought on board to help steer House’s rugby as the master in charge in addition to being the Head of Sports Medicine. Although he has professional level coaching and HP work listed on his CV as well as passion for both rugby and House, there is still a challenge ahead for him to convince all that he’s up to the task as a rock solid coach rather than a physio who happens to be able to coach.

The most significant Michaelhouse change happens right at the top though. Their rector Greg Theron has opted out of a new contact and will depart at the end of the year. House’s academics is very strong, the arts and culture activity curriculum is good and the school continues to be fully subscribed, even at its premium fees. There cannot be many complaints. This is a school that is doing very well in just about all respects. It’s perhaps just in sport where the next head might see opportunity for improvement.




  1. I have no dog in the fight, but can someone for interest’s sake please confirm whether HJS is considered unbeaten this year?

  2. What a loss. Mainstay of rugby at House. Paul Roos have gained a great man.Roos going to be unbeaten next year and forever.

  3. Next year is going to be interesting, especially amongst the Winelands schools, go PRG, cant wait for new season to start! @maroon

  4. Well done to Ryno. It will be interesting to see what sort of influence he has on PRG especially their backline creativity.

    Also keen to see who Michaelhouse now bring in to replace him. Who knows it might be an interesting big name.

  5. @beet: Yes someone like Alan Morrissey who can teach Economics at the same time. That would be Machine almost Green Machine 2 3 House

  6. @McCulleys Workshop: I’ve seen an oke reffing a few games. Just needs to lose a few pounds and he could be the chosen one. Maybe for extra workouts he could run the sideline with the medics

  7. @beet: I know that Graham Henry used to be a teacher, rumour has it he has been on a crash course on how to teach Afrikaans … he would be a useful addition to the MHS coaching staff .

  8. This is the job spec for the MHS Head of Sport:


    Applications are invited for this position, which will become vacant in 1 January 2018.

    If you :
    Are experienced, energetic and enthusiastic, a team leader with a sound understanding of the full range of sports offered at Michaelhouse.
    Have and a clear vision for achieving excellence across all sporting codes
    Have a track record of excellence
    Are excited about working with the Co-Curricular team and taking on the following responsibilities, then please lodge your application, as per details below.

    Senior Master Sport
    Chair Games Committee
    Develop policy for sport at Michaelhouse
    Develop and monitor a programme for sporting excellence
    Confirm budgets for sport codes
    Chair sports disciplinary hearings
    Plan and monitor programme of festival and tour participation.
    Implement sport participation policy and liaise with housemasters in this respect
    Lead the committee that selects sport scholarship candidates
    Oversee sport scholarship assessment programme
    Collate and submit board reports
    Collate and submit Chronicle reports
    Monitor and manage sport comment entry in boys’ reports
    Present candidates for sport awards to awards committee
    Assist sports co-ordinator and masters in charge of sports with organising fixtures and staggers.
    Monitor staff involvement in coaching to ensure fairness and balance
    Maintain records of sports results and
    Record all sports awards
    Oversee implementation of development programmes for coaches
    Liaise with masters in charge of sports and facilities manager to ensure that facilities are prepared and maintained for different sporting events
    Monitor year plan and quarterly calendar entries to ensure balance and integration with other school programmes and activities.
    Co-ordinate the activities of MIC sports.
    Ensure coaches are appropriately qualified.

  9. All the best to Ryan Strudwick , who has been appointed as master in charge of sport at Michaelhouse.

  10. @Far Meadows: Yes, Ryan is a great man and will fill that spot with distinction. He has such an incredible rugby brain and a wonderful athlete. 2 3 Strudders. Well done to House for securing his services.

  11. A Hopper sat on my shoulder and told me GB is leaving SA and moving to the UK. All the best GB hope you find your comfort zone and well done. Takes big nuts to uproot and move to a new country. Hope to see you in the English Red Rose jersey and not the Bokke jersey.

  12. @Bush: Hi Bush, yes hopefully he can implement good policies/programmes across all the sporting codes.

    One thing I have noticed over the last few years , is that fewer boys seem to be playing sport in general ( not only rugby ). Hopefully he can get the boys back onto the sports field and playing .

  13. Lekker Wilson

    GB told me he is already connected to London Wasps and will get involved with training referees

  14. I just hope that House will enlarge their nuts and start playing schools like Paarl Roos and Monnas

  15. @Far Meadows: He will definitely do that. I remember when he was at College he would do Cross Country with the boys. That encouraged more boys to get involved. House did well there.

  16. @Speartackle: Spear just because House has a 2-0 lead over Monnas don’t be a cry baby. Monnas was lucky House didn’t play them this year, let’s not even go down the road about last year. I think I heard the Ile Maurice calling you. Maybe you and Hopper can sip on a lekker Banana Colada in your Cappy Speedo. Yes that one you stole out my son’s cupboard :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

  17. @Bush: Definitely taking that GW Speedo….looks like Chappies wrapping
    Will look lekker with my Free State tan

    Alcohol free island holiday…… 2 3 Edistar

  18. @Van: hi, McLaren is leaving but where to I don’t know. Will ask my son. Pinheiro’s move to DHS has started a exodus of note from Glenwood. There is so many teachers and coaches that moved there that I believe they might just call it Glenwood 2 :mrgreen:

  19. @beet: Hi Beet, I believe that Fleming was a defensive coach at the Sharks before returning to the Kings.

  20. My boys! This dutchman is specil. There was no fight just faith and lots of grace! AMEN!

  21. Lekker manne, I just want to thank Beet for this amazing blog. I have met the best okes ever from being on this blog. From GW okes to Monnas, Gimmes and the Blue Train okes. Then a few Grey okes in between. I was at the Cpt 7’s and went and had a few beers with the guys from Paarl. It has been amazing meeting such great people that are on this blog. Thank you again Beet and thank you Rugby for once again being a life changer. 2 3 SBR Blog. South Africa has Lekker people and is a lekker place with Mooi wors .

  22. @Bush: On Sunday evening after the final, was that you standing with a few guys outside the gate that leads to the Waterfront in a red shirt (I think)?

  23. @Bush: Agree with you. @beet: Thank you for running an excellent blog. Bush it was great meeting meeting you and your KZN SBR mates at the Craven Week in Jozi. Your boy Knox is a beast and I hope he makes it out there :wink:

  24. @Bush: Howzit. I’m red-green colourblind, so it could still have been you! :lol: I watched the final day with kiwi mates – bloody painful experience.

  25. @Vleis: Shame I do feel your pain. I watched the Final with friends from Boksburg and that was very entertaining.

  26. @Bush: Lekker Bush. I see the real silver spooners are said to form part of the Mafia in the winelands. We have been dethroned.

  27. @McCulleys Workshop: @McCulleys Workshop: Whahshsgsgsgswhsgags according to a Hopper only MHS okes were Silverspooners, but seems he was wrong. Thank goodness I’m from Toti. Wonder how GB would blow his whistle on this????? Whahshahshsgshshsfah. Hopefully I don’t breakdown on Twini Hill and need a tow truck driver!!!!’ Spear where are you

  28. Too all my english SBR bloggers and most of all the English friends I have met during the past year or 2. May you all have n blessed Christmas with loved ones and a 2018 year filled with good School Boy Rugby.

  29. to all SBR bloggers. Thank you for an eventful 2018. Enemies become friends and friends remained. Some moved on and others just remained like a stuck old LP. Personal favourites were punted and still are ,non stop. I cause the proof lies on the field. Who will proof the “knowledgable” right and who will surprise? Personally moving on fast. Looking forward to a great year 2018 of SBR. It is going to be a humdinger of note with lot of surprises and the Green Machine will be very much part of it. Merry Christmas and a happy new year! :mrgreen:


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