After successful careers playing for the Springboks, former players John Smit, Butch James, Braam van Straaten, Dick Muir, Ian MacDonald, Marius Hurter, and Hentie Maartens have returned their attention to the rugby field once again to offer up the knowledge, that took them years to build, to KZN’s school players as part of the Investec International Rugby Academy; a high-performance training initiative that aims to grow the sport and to nurture young talent nationally.
Conveniently taking place in the school holidays, from 8 to 14 December, players and coaches attending will spend a week at St Charles College in Pietermaritzburg, closely paired with rugby professionals within their position.
“We hope to put our experience to good use by raising the standard of rugby from a grassroots perspective; helping coaches stay-up-to-date with the latest techniques and players to reach their rugby goals,” says former EP and Border player, as well as Investec International Rugby Academy General Manager, Greg Miller.
Also set to share their expertise with young players are former All Black player Murray Mexted, former Italian player Carlo Del Fava, former Springbok Coaches Ian McIntosh and Peter de Villiers, former Blues Coach Paul Feeney, Springbok Backline Coach Ricardo Loubscher, Sharks Super Rugby Coaches’ Paul Anthony and Michael Horak, former provincial players’ Ryno Combrinck, Grant Bashford and Jacques Botes.
School players and coaches can look forward to meeting these iconic rugby professionals, and other like-minded, players and coaches from various provinces. The December Academy offers four Players’ Courses designed to meet the age-specific needs of school players and Coaches’ Courses which run alongside these levels to allow coaches to learn more about working with different age groups.
Behind-the-scenes training is also included in the Investec International Rugby Academy’s Courses and specialists’ Mark Steele (Springbok and Sharks Conditioning coach), Ruan Fourie (former Sharks Physiotherapist), Nico le Roux (former All Blacks, Blues and Chiefs Technical Advisor) and Greig Wegerle (Performance Coach) will be providing players with an insight into what it takes to become a professional in the game.
Position-specific coaching, skills work and mental toughness are high on the learning agenda for all age groups. High school players (ages 14 to 17) are offered two options – a 5-Day Players Course or an Advanced Players’ Course (seven days). Primary school players (ages 11 to 14) spend four days in the Intermediate Players’ Course, while junior primary players (ages seven to 10) spend three days focusing on building a solid foundation in the game.
“Our coaches work with our players as they would with their provincial or national teams which provides players with a taste of what it takes to play professionally and coaches with an opportunity to discuss and implement these practical coaching tips into their practices,” says Miller.
For more information about The Investec International Rugby Academy’s Courses, taking place from 8 to 14 December at St Charles College in Pietermaritzburg, visit www.investecacademy.com or contact Greg or Bernadine Miller on (031) 940 5565.