Michaelhouse head coach resigns after just five games in charge – 20 April 2018
Sam Mofokeng’s tenure will probably go down as one of the shortest 1st XV head coaching spells ever in KZN schoolboy rugby history . After just 5 matches (and 5 defeats) he decided to hand his resignation. The first speculation was did he jump or was he pushed? Things haven’t been going well behind the scenes of House rugby. There has been coaching disagreements about the direction the first team should be moving in. From my own previous experience of these kind of conflict matters, 1) it almost always impacts on the team’s performance on the field and 2) it just about never ends pleasantly. Anyway asking around about Sam there seems to be consensus even amongst rival school officials that he is a good coach and a helluva nice guy. Many people don’t always realise that there is a lot of pressure placed on a prominent school 1st XV coach from all sides to achieve the desired results. Perhaps the added message is that those who have succeeded in the role, have the strength of character to withstand the inevitable criticisms and challenges to their leadership that go hand-in-hand with the top job. Head of rugby James Fleming steps into the Michaelhouse pound seat now. He will be assisted by Ryan Strudwick. Between the two they have extensive professional rugby coaching experience. They will have to mould that into something schoolboys can relate to. There is potential for them to become quite an effective team. At this stage it is not known where Sam Mofokeng will fit into the House rugby setup.
College head coach relinquishes the role to focus on other duties – 26 February 2018
Well if you thought Maritzburg College were flying under the radar as far as 2018 KZN coaching dramas are concerned, guess again. With just a few of weeks to go before their regular season gets underway against St Charles, Maritzburg College old boy Ryan Kyle has stepped down as head coach at his alma mater. Apart from being a qualified teacher and the Shepstone BE Housemaster, Kyle holds the position of Admissions PRO (recruitment) at College. Just about every SBR coach out will concur that 1st XV coaching on it’s own is an onerous responsibility, so to lump it with at least two other time consuming jobs that carry a great deal of accountability equals huge pressure. And I guess in this case it was just a matter of time before something had to give. Ryan won’t be lost to rugby altogether – he is set to take charge in the 2nd XV environment where there is a lot less external focus and hence pressure etc. etc.
The applecart hasn’t been fully upset though – there is potentially a smoothish coaching transition to someone who knows the players and systems well. Stepping up and into the 1st XV hot seat is another MCOB and teacher Tim Orchard. The likeable 1st XV assistant coach has paid his dues while working his way up the coaching ranks at College ever since he joined the staff back in 2004. Tim has been involved with the Red, Black, White 1st XV since 2015 and has also formed an integral part of the KZN under-16 Grant Khomo Week coaching setup for several years now. He has just 19 days until the regular season starts.
Yet another Westville rugby official jumps ship – 30 January 2018
Dirkie Strydom – Westville. Westville’s 2017 1st XV head coach who made way for Jeremy McLaren and was all set to focus more intensely on directing the Highways’ school’s rugby, has handed in his resignation and will be heading to Middelburg in the Pumas region to work at Hoërskool Kanonkop. With so many coaches having parted ways with Westville in recent years, one might be inclined to think that the working environment isn’t too pleasant there. However with part of his family having already moved back to Middelburg, Dirkie’s decision has been put down to him wanting to reunite them under one roof again.
Instability is the appropriate term to describe the rugby setup at Ville. Jeremy McLaren who joined from Glenwood late in 2017, will be Westville’s fourth different head coach in four seasons. However as some seemingly good coaches have come and go, WBHS somehow manages to keep attracting quality. Another worthy recent addition has been Njabulo Zulu, a WOB (Westville Old Boy) with Golden Lions Academy Week coaching experience as well as being former all-KZN schoolboy rugby player, having earned caps at u13, u16 and u18 level for the province.
Braam van Straaten – St Charles. Once the dust settled at Kings Park, it was revealed that former Bok flyhalf Braam van Straaten, would look after the Super Rugby team’s defence in addition to his role as kicking coach. This effectively means that Braam and not Dick Muir replaces Ryan Studwick (now at Michaelhouse) at the Sharks. Braam spent a season overseeing the rugby of St Charles before joining the Sharks on a full-time basis. His understudy Petrus du Plessis, who is the St Charles’ strength and conditioning guru and scrum coach will take over in the role of Director of Rugby at the Pietermaritzburg private school.
Northwood sees the return of the prodigal son (again)
Grant Bashford – Northwood. He’s back! Can you believe it. After literally walking out on Northwood midseason last year to take up a job in Japan, “Bashie” has been returned to the Knights fold, no questions asked. Bashie will be Director of Coaching in this his third spell at Northwood. Torsten Sorenson will continue on as 1st XV Head Coach. Jonathan Scuby remains as Director of Rugby.
Blog from 1st January 2018
Dick Muir – Northwood. It was eventually confirmed late in 2017 that Dick Muir would be returning to the Sharks as an assistant coach, thereby ending his short-term stint with Northwood. A couple of interesting things came out of this move.
Firstly it’s alleged that Grant Bashford who held the job before Muir and vacated it to head to Japan, applied unsuccessfully to get back his old job at the school. In the end Northwood decided to back Torsten Sorensen, who might have his work cut out for him again this season but stands every chance of reaping the rewards in 2019 if the development of last year’s under-16A players goes well.
Secondly Muir appointment at the Sharks created a knock-on effect that impacted on Ryan Strudwick ending up at Michaelhouse.
Ryan Strudwick – Michaelhouse. A few years back, Strudwick joined Maritzburg College after his contract was up with the Sharks, so he’s acquired plenty of experience of dealing with school kids and he’s also had to come to terms with feeling let down by the Rugby Union. If he was disappointed with the Sharks during that spell at College, one can only imagine how much unhappier he must be with the decision-makers at Kings Park these days. He was effectively forced out of the picture altogether as a Sharks senior pro level coach to make way for the arrival of Dick Muir. According to the print media in November 2017, Strudwick is/was still awaiting some explanations from the Sharks.
Read the full article here: https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/axed-strudwick-still-waiting-for-reasons-20171121-2
The lousy part is that the tone of that article has probably put Strudders on the back foot with the Michaelhouse support base as well now. It states that he “…has settled for a job as sports director at private school Michaelhouse despite offering to take a demotion to the Sharks’ juniors.” The House job which incidentally received plenty of applications, is made to seem decidedly inferior. Anyway actions will speak a lot louder than words in the months to come and if Strudwick delivers, this start will be quickly forgotten.
Derek Heiberg – Glenwood. Heiberg’s meteoric rise at Glenwood continued as he was named new head coach in late 2017, replacing Jeremy McLaren (now Westville). Helberg, a biokineticist by qualification joined Glenwood in 2013 as their Head of Physical Education and a strength and conditioning consultant. 2013 was Sean Erasmus’ last year in charge of Glenwood rugby and there have been a few personnel changes since then. At the start of 2017, Heiberg was elevated to Director of Rugby replacing Shawn van Rensburg (now DHS) and also served as assistant 1st XV coach (replacing Mike Vowles). His new assistant will be Jose dos Santos, the 2017 u16A coach.
Blog from October 2017
Westville lands in the KZN pound seat
Wow! This is going to be one for the books. Westville who form an integral part of KZN school rugby and yet seem to have been marginalised in the all-important under-18 youth week decision-making process for many years now, will soon have the Craven Week head coach and with him a KZN Sharks under-18 selector’s vote. This all happens once highly rated coach Jeremy McLaren joins their staff – (expected 01 November).
Let’s hope no-one feels too threatened by this move as it does bring about a really nice even spread of the selectors’ votes amongst the key schools, provided all other things remain consistent.
McLaren’s move comes as a bit of a surprise. He was only in charge of the Glenwood 1st XV for this past one season having gained promotion to that role from the u16A, and was expected to be in charge of that same talented u16 group at 1st XV level in 2018.
The Westville shift may still see McLaren in the role of head coach, with Dirkie Strydom who had held the job for this 2017 season, stepping into a type of rugby director’s role. However this is unconfirmed.
COACHING MOVEMENTS IN KZN
It is the second big coach news item coming out of KZN in the last few weeks, after Michaelhouse stalwart Ryno Combrinck was announced as Paul Roos’ new rugby head.
In other known moves, Michaelhouse picked up old boy James Fleming from the EPRU (and Sharks before that) to head up an interesting portfolio as the head of sports medicine and he’ll also be actively involved in 1st XV rugby coaching. Sam Mofokeng, having worked at various private schools, has finally paid all his dues and is set to take charge of the Michaelhouse 1st XV in 2018. He replaces Andre van Wyk who steps down to a lower A-team after a couple of years in charge at the top. Remember Michaelhouse have also effectively lost the services of former 1st XV head coach Michael Schwartz to St Alban’s in Pretoria. The master in charge of sport position is up for grabs at Michaelhouse so there could still be a significant new face at Balgowan before long.
Jo-Ash van Aswegen, the Westville 1st XV assistant coach for the past few years and former head boy has joined Clifton, in what now looks like a neat WOB core, as two key figures in the Morningside school’s setup Ross Saayman (head coach) and Grant Bell (Director) are also both alumni from the leafy suburbs of ‘Ville. Clifton has also acquired the services of Hendan Wienand.
Jo-Ash takes the place vacated by Jono Piek, a Glenwood old boy and current KZN under-18 selector. Piek is one of the new faces at Glenwood.
It felt like it was only yesterday when Shawn van Rensburg was named as Glenwood’s new director of rugby, but it was actually back in 2014. He made a quick and quiet exit during April and now plies his trade at DHS.
During the season Northwood’s man in charge Grant Bashford resigned in order to move to a Japanese rugby club. He was replaced as head coach by his assistant Torsten Sorensen, who was part of the big exodus from Westville a couple of years back. Dick Muir stepped into the director of rugby role for the rest of the 2017 season but there is every chance of seeing Muir as part of the Sharks ranks next year and not with Northwood. After four years at the helm Northwood headmaster Paul McAvoy also called it quits. The headmaster appointment usually has a bearing on rugby direction at a school.