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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.

Coaching in Russia must be very different to South Africa.  Was it a culture shock?

“It’s an epic challenge – totally different to what we’re used to at home, but the talent they have here is amazing.  The players are passionate and committed, and it’s really exciting to work with them.”

You have close ties with Train Camp in Franschhoek.  Are you still involved?

“Very much so.  It’s actually a funny coincidence, because our FINA Development Centre’s sister facility is also here in Russia – in Kazan.  In between my coaching duties I’m drafting the Train Camp Rugby curriculum, which will be internationally accredited.  The intellectual property in coaching is really important, as the game becomes more and more technical.  I’m working with Greg Miller – who’s the GM of the International Academy of Sport and also a Sharks Academy coach – and a team of specialist consultants and coaches.  Train Camp is re-laying the whole rugby field in Franschhoek, and upgrading the facilities.”

Player development is specialty of yours.  What’s next in the Winelands?

“Train Camp has hosted a lot of short-term training camps for athletes from Austria, India, Hungary, etc., and for rugby we’re extending that model to a six-month development programme for young players from overseas.  We put them into long-stay accommodation, and manage every part of their day from arrival until they go back home – and our first group arrives in April”.

“Greg and I have brought in ex-Springbok Marius Hurter, and our team of specialists work on every aspect of a player’s game.  Position-specific skills, hand-eye coordination, tactical strategy, tackle technique – which is critical under the new laws – are all coached.

“Five days out of seven they start with a conditioning session before breakfast.  In the morning they do technical sessions, and in the afternoons its analysis and club training.  Players have to compete to grow their game, so we place them with clubs according to their position and development path – and they play matches on Saturdays. Of course, they also go on excursions around the Winelands and Cape Town, and get to experience South Africa over an extended period.

“We’ve created a new, global blueprint for the future of player development – especially for post-matrics. They spend six months being mentored by some Springbok legends, in the historic heart of South African rugby – where there are more clubs than anywhere else in the world.  I love taking a raw talent and helping to transform them into a complete professional – and there’s no better place to do it than the Winelands.”

Text: Editorial Desk | Image: Train Camp