Springboks , coaches offer young players comprehensive holiday training


Having identified the gap in youth sports development in South Africa, the Investec International Rugby Academy aims to emphasise the importance of playing a sport at school while guiding schoolboys with a passion for rugby.

Offering position-specific skills and theoretical training, young players can look forward to working closely with former Springboks Braam van Straaten (flyhalf), André Pretorius (flyhalf), Marius Hurter (prop) and Ian MacDonald (flank), and Italian lock Carlo del Fava, as well as former provincial players Greg Miller, Greig Wegerle and Ryno Combrink.

“We want to create young men who will become great leaders in their communities and schools. We challenge players and get them to come out of their “shells” with confidence. Rugby is just the vehicle that gives us that opportunity,” says former Wallabies kicking coach van Straaten.

Coaches can also look forward to fast-tracking their expertise by learning alongside former Springbok coaches’ Ian McIntosh and Dick Muir, current Sharks assistant coach Paul Anthony, and former English player and provincial defence coach Michael Horak.

“We need to direct more of our resources into this area and help to create platforms for the coaches to develop. Evolving with the game through constant upliftment will enable coaches to grow within their schools’ systems,” says Academy Director, Dick Muir.

The Investec International Rugby Academy’s courses cover more than just theoretical and practical rugby training; they also educate young players on the importance of nutrition, injury prevention and recovery, physical conditioning and mental toughness.

Rugby specialists Mark Steele (Sharks Strength Conditioning Coach) and Ruan Fourie (former Sharks and Lions Physiotherapist) will be ensuring that players understand the effort that is required behind the scenes.

“Players need the correct technical information from the early stages to prevent through trial and error training which often results in the accumulation of bad habits,” explains van Straaten.

Aiming to nurture the pool of talent available at school level, the Academy gives players and coaches the advantage of learning the skills and knowledge that professional coaches attending took years to develop; allowing coaches to integrate the latest coaching methods into their practices and allowing players the opportunity to stand out among their peer groups.

Offering a Prestige Players’ Course (ages 7 to 10), an Intermediate Players’ Course (ages 11 to 13) and a 5-Day Players’ Course (ages 14 to 17), the academy’s biannual players’ courses are highly sought after by school players and teams from all over South Africa. Depending on the level of instruction, coaches can choose between the comprehensive 5-Day Coaches’ Course which runs alongside the 5-Day Players’ Course or the Intermediate Coaches Course for coaches who work specifically with primary school players.

Since first established in 2009, the Academy has seen several players and coaches go far in their career as a result of their experience in the Academy’s courses – these include coaches Johann Ackermann (Lions) and Neil Powell (Blitzbokke), and players Roelof Smit (Blue Bulls), James Hall (French Oyonnax), and Marco Labuschagne (Blitzbokke). They share the learning experiences that helped them to achieve their rugby dreams.

“The Investec International Rugby Academy is a unique opportunity to learn what professional rugby is all about; from rugby skills, to nutrition and recovery. The best aspect of the courses in the academy is position specific coaching,” says Johann Ackermann.

“I wanted to up-skill myself as a coach and this course presented the opportunity to do that with all the high-profile coaches that were there.  It was my first coaching course so I had so much to still learn about coaching and managing a system,” says Neil Powell.

“The Academy taught me vital skills, such as mental toughness, which for me is the key to reaching the next level. The courses teach you how to get the ability to perform at maximum in every game and that you can beat someone purely by being mentally stronger,” fondly reflects Roelof Smit.

“The Academy showed me what is expected of me to make it to the top and guided me in the right direction to achieve my rugby goals,” says James Hall.

“The Academy helped me to understand the difference between constructive and deconstructive criticism, taught me to exceed what is expected off me, and improved my personal game,” says Marco Labuschagne. The Investec International Rugby Academy’s next set of courses will take place on Saturday, 1 to Wednesday, 5 July at St Charles College in Pietermaritzburg. All meals and accommodation, as well as kit and learning material are included in all course packages. For more information about the Investec International Rugby Academy’s Courses or to register your son for the July Courses, contact Greg

Maritzburg sun reporter

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