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A Glass of Gold

Gary Gold with the Springboks
Gary Gold with the Springboks

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.

More Wheelchairs from Bread Tags and Bottle Caps

Bridge House Servest staff was on hand at the handover of the wheelchair to Mavis Vingi.

Bridge House’s collaboration with the Bread Tags for Wheelchairs organisation reached another milestone during the recent school holiday when the seventh and eighth wheelchairs obtained in this way were presented to worthy recipients.

The seventh wheelchair was handed to Franschhoek resident Mavis Vingi, who has advanced osteoporosis in both knees. The eighth chair went to Yolanda Petersen from Somerset West, who has no right kneecap and suffers chronic back and hip pain.

If you’ve ever wondered how many bread tags are required to pay for a wheelchair the answer is 200 kg. To put that into perspective, a bread bag holds 1 kg of tags. So, keep eating bread!

In the case of bottle caps, 450 kg of bottle caps is needed for a wheelchair. The difference is down to the fact that they’re made from a different material for which a lower price is paid.

A request from the school though, please do not mix your tags and caps and make sure no other objects make it into the containers.  Odd finds like batteries and toothbrushes are laborious to separate and if missed damage the recycling company’s machinery.

Since Bridge House started collecting tags in 2017 the initiative has grown to such an extent that the school now receives tags from communities all over the country – and even Australia! The seventh wheelchair was obtained through contributions from the Bridge House community and the other was a team effort between collectors in Australia and South Africa.

Text: Editorial Desk | Image: Bridge House

From South to North and Back Again

Dick Muir
Dick Muir, former Assistant Springbok Coach and now Head Coach of the Russian National Rugby Team will be transforming talent at Train Camp Franschhoek

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.

Old School | True Sport

The historic 1907 school will become the high performance gym and overlook a landscaped courtyard.

There has, for some time now, been a sense in the village that something is afoot at Franschhoek High School. This is indeed the case and the Franschhoek Tatler is delighted to be able to officially share the inside story of Train Camp – Franschhoek.

Ballet Achievers

Four ballerinas from the Anma School of Ballet took the Royal Academy of Dance Ballet Examination just before the lockdown. This international syllabus is of a very high standard and the ballerinas did themselves proud. They are FLTR: Loumari Hugo (Distinction), Sarah Buchanan and Bianca Dingyo (Merit Passes) and Sadie Lawrence (Pass).

Town and gown unite against COVID-19

FLTR: Maties SRC Chair Xola Njengele, Stellenbosch University Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers, Stellenbosch Executive Mayor Adv Gesie van Deventer and Visit Stellenbosch CEO Jeanneret Momberg in the town’s iconic Victoria Street, which runs through the University’s campus. Key town-and-gown stakeholders are taking coming together in a campaign against COVID-19. (Photo: Stefan Els)

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.

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