Dick Muir played five tests and five tour matches for the Springboks and 183 first class games, but it is as a coach that he is best known – famously helping to steer the Boks to a Lions Series win and a 3-0 TriNations whitewash of the All Blacks in 2009. Perhaps his greatest asset is an instinctive eye for talent, and how to develop it – having spotted the gifts of Bok legends Frans Steyn and Beast Mtawarira, amongst many others. We caught up with him on a call to Moscow, where he now coaches the Russian national team.
Reinventing and Restoring Rugby at Franschhoek High School
Former Springbok assistant coach Gary Gold recently joined Train Camp at Haute Cabrière as a guest of Franschhoek Tourism, where they toasted some new developments in a decade-long relationship. Train Camp said, “We asked Gary to consult on the strategy for our Rugby Programme at Franschhoek High School. He was part of the team that beat Richie McCaw’s All Blacks twice in New Zealand and the British & Irish Lions, and he’s one of the great thinkers of the game.”
Head Coach of USA Rugby since 2018, Gary divides his time between the Cape and Colorado – and the Tatler sat down with him, over a glass or two, to talk about his vision for rugby in the valley.
So how did this partnership come about?
I’ve always wanted to get involved in the development of rugby and rugby players, and that starts at school level. I’ve coached at provincial, club and national level for twenty years, and the time is right to use that experience to drive development. When Dick Muir and I coached the Springboks under Peter de Villiers, Dick introduced me to the guys at Train Camp – so we go back over ten years. They showed me what they’re doing at Franschhoek High School, it was a great fit for my thinking on the evolution of the game – and we took it from there.
What changes are you bringing to the rugby played by FHS?
It’s more the introduction of strategic development for individual players, and systems that support that. The programme has the squads living in the hostel – so we can build strong teams from around 60 of the best young players, and develop them individually like you would at an academy. Inevitably there’s a talent deficit in some positions, and that’s where we’ll identify and recruit players and offer bursaries. We’ll look for local Winelands players from the community for the bursaries, because we want to keep building the game in this region. And of course, we want to make the school a force in the game nationally.
How will it work with your national commitments in the USA?
I’m contracted with USA Rugby until the end of World Cup in 2023, so I will be consulting to Train Camp for now. That’s said, I’m passionate about the strategy – and developing this level of rugby is a long-term commitment for me. We’ll also have a good team; small, but very focused. A head coach, an athletic performance coach – and we’ve developed a very good talent identification and scouting network here in the Cape. We’ve had a lot of interest in the head coach position, and I’m also here to discuss some of those names. Train Camp already has the sports science expertise lined up.
We just had lunch with global swimming delegates and officials. What does Train Camp have up its sleeve in terms of Rugby partnerships?
To start, they’ve brought in the Serge Blanco fashion brand to package the team and its kit. Their team has collaborated with Toulouse, and recently announced Cheslin Kolbe as a global brand ambassador – so that’s an exciting relationship. Serge Blanco’s son, Sébastien, works with Train Camp and has close ties with the French clubs, so maybe there’s an opportunity to bring overseas players here to play – rather than them scouting ours.
What makes this project special for you?
The fact that it’s at a school. South Africa already has the best rugby schools system in the world, while some top test nations don’t even have a schools rugby culture. That’s why many of our players are scouted straight out of matric, but it’s only a matter of time before they expand their own full-time programmes to this age group. South Africa needs to up its game at this level to stay competitive, and for us the head coach role is as much about mentorship as technical training. He gives them structure and discipline, and they have to perform in class as well if they want to play.
Also, an academic institution gives the players options. We can introduce coaching accreditation, sports science and sports management to the curriculum, and they and the other students can have a career in the future. It’s good for the whole school.
Museums worldwide annually celebrate International Museum Day on 18 May. In the Western Cape museums affiliated with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport celebrate this global event by staging a very popular English speech contest for high school learners.
The topics for the first round and gala speech contest focus on “Museums and the important role they play in our communities.”
Locally the first round will involve grade 10 and 11 learners from Franschhoek High School, Groendal Secondary School and Bridge House School. The first round will be hosted at the Huguenot Memorial Museum where strict Covid-19 protocols will be in place.
The first, second and third place winners at the first round will receive a floating trophy to keep in their school’s display cases for the year. These learners also automatically qualify for the online Gala Speech Contest later in the year.
The closing date for entries is 3 May 2021.
The museum’s educational officer, Moniqec Dirkse, can be contacted for copies of the rules, the topics or any other information. Her contact details are: firstname.lastname@example.org | 064 092 5467 | 021 876 2532
If we all work together, we can minimise the coronavirus risk, protect lives and livelihoods, and safeguard the success of the academic project. WIM DE VILLIERS (Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University and Chair of Higher Health)
Stellenbosch and surrounding towns have of late become busier again in the runup to the formal start of our academic year on 15 March 2021. The return of students and staff may be a thrilling prospect for businesses, but some fears have also been expressed around COVID-19. Let me explain our approach, in collaboration with other role-players in our university town.
Bridge House School Matrics of 2020 achieved excellent results in the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) examinations and the school maintained its 100% pass rate to date.
In 2020, 12 024 full time candidates wrote the National Senior Certificate through the IEB with a 98,06% pass rate nationally. 88.41% of the candidates achieved a Bachelor Degree pass, qualifying them to apply to study for degree courses at university.
We are deeply saddened by the news of Jeff’s death. Jeff was truly one of the handful of kids who inspired us to get involved and more importantly, to stay involved with children and young people in the Franschhoek valley.
Jeff brought with him a unique charm, openness and warmth to any meeting, announcing himself with his incredible bright smile.
He bought into the idea of both self-improvement and community improvement right from the start. He never lost his positive outlook nor his belief that things could get better, that indeed, things could be better. As a kid Jeff was always prepared to volunteer for extra classes – our Dream Team – and for any other initiatives to assist others in the community, especially with younger children. He took his attitude with him into young adulthood in founding a small charity to provide assistance to families with small children in need.
Like others in that special group of kids we worked with in the early years, Jeff stayed in touch with us. We will miss this young man with his positive spirit of hope and belief in a better future.
Rest in Peace Jeff
Few things in life that are truly worth having or achieving come easily. Raising a family, mastering the violin, running a marathon, surfing a wave, passing your final exams or climbing a mountain all take plenty of good old fashioned hard work. There are times when you feel disheartened as you see little reward for your efforts but, in the end, you enjoy a family dinner, ride that wave, cross the finish line, graduate or reach the summit.
Much of the spirit of our times is about luxury, ease and convenience. ‘Simpler, better faster’. We expect replies to our messages in minutes. We aspire to and come to expect business class, VIP parking, air conditioned comfort.
Children do not learn perseverance, tenacity and grit by themselves. It is human nature to give up in the face of adversity. We need to plan those lessons, as we do others. It starts with giving them responsibilities around the house that are appropriate for their age. A four year-old can help carry the shopping in to the house and by five should be able to help you pack it away. They should be able to feed the dog or cat and help water the garden. By 7 or 8 they should be able to fry an egg and bake a muffin. By ten they can cook a meal for the family. In so doing they learn to be responsible for something, knowing that it is an important task and that it needs to be done reliably and with pride. Quitting or making excuses isn’t an option. Later on in life, they will have the skills of self-mastery to be able to study for exams, practice a musical instrument, or train for a sport.
Important life lessons must be planned into the curriculum. Children must learn that in order to enjoy a tomato you have to plant it and water it every day. It takes weeks for the plant to grow and there is a small but real sense of accomplishment when they see the fruit ripening.
One of my favourite quotes is from Robert Schuller: ‘Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.’
Andy Wood, Green School South Africa’s Head of School.