After two successful sets of courses in KZN, the Investec International Rugby Academy will be returning to St Charles College in Pietermaritzburg these school holidays, adding position-specific courses, for both players and coaches, to the course line-up. The 5-day course aims to provide high school players with the skills and expertise they need by matching them with former national and international players in their position and teach coaches to learn alongside these players. The exciting line-up that attendees can look forward to working with are former Springbok flank Ian MacDonald and utility-back Brent Russell, former Springbok assistant coach Dick Muir, ex-Wallabies kicking coach Braam van Straaten, former Sharks coach Grant Bashford, Sharks forwards coach Ryan Strudwick, Sharks under-19 coach Paul Anthony, Super Rugby referee Archie Sehlako, as well as local coaches Greg Miller, Greig Wegerle and Ryno Combrink. Behind the scenes training is also a feature of the academy and specialists such as Mark Steele (former Springbok conditioning coach) and Ruan Fourie (former Sharks and Lions physiotherapist) will be educating players on conditioning for the season and injury prevention. “The academy affords players the opportunity to meet, interact and learn from the greats of the game. It can only have a positive effect on one’s development,” says former Springbok, Brent Russell. World renowned kicking coach, Braam van Straaten, who has been a coach at the academy for the past seven years, is passionate about his role at the academy. “In a week you see boys become men. We get players to function outside their comfort zone,” says van Straaten. Players’ courses on offer in July are the Prestige Players’ Course (aged seven to 10 years), the Intermediate Players’ and Coaches Course (aged 11 to 14 years), the 5-Day Players’ and Coaches Course (aged 14 to 17 years). Former Eastern Province player and GM of the Investec International Rugby Academy, . . .
Promising FNB NMMU-Madibaz rugby player Junior Pokomela had a big decision to make when he made a name for himself as a top schools star in 2014. Having being selected for the South African Schools team, the former Grey High pupil had to consider offers from the Cheetahs and the EP Kings as he pondered his future. Two years later, Pokomela has no doubt that the decision to stay in his home town of Port Elizabeth was the best move for him. The tall number eight was a key performer for the EP Kings U19 team in winning last year's Currie Cup premier division title, and he now faces the next challenge of his burgeoning career when he represents South Africa at the Junior World Rugby Championship in England from Tuesday. While the Baby Boks will be among the top contenders for the title, Pokomela said their immediate focus was only on their opening match against Japan. "I have not set myself too many goals at this stage," Pokomela, christened Siphatu, but now known mainly as Junior, said. "My only aim is to make the starting team to play Japan and then to take it from there." He said he was delighted to have a number of his university team-mates – Jeremy Ward, the captain, Tango Balekile, Nicolaas Oosthuizen and Keanu Vers – in the squad. "It's great to have them here, but I have also made some new friends, so it's very chilled and there is a great vibe in the camp," said the 19-year-old. "The guys are confident and positive, but we know there will be some tough opponents, such as England and New Zealand. But, for the moment, we are only focusing on Japan." Pokomela said he had to make the tough decision to join the Cheetahs or the Saru Kings Academy while he was still in high school. "Robbi Kempson (former Springbok and Academy manager) spoke to me and told me of my opportunities with the Kings, where I would be able to study and play at the same time. "As I look back, I'm so happy to have made that decision. Born and bred in PE, I . . .
Three Springbok and Stormers rugby players are getting their hands dirty to make a contribution towards rugby development. Scarra Ntubeni, Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi have joined forces with boutique winery Mitre’s Edge to launch a limited edition wine to raise funds for WP Rugby President’s Trust. The initiative was started by Ntubeni after seeing many talented players not reaching their full potential. “We want to make a difference, while we are still actively involved in the game. We are hoping that this could help in some way to assist young players and create some opportunities for them. Sometimes you just need a chance to develop your rugby career further and this initiative can hopefully make a positive contribution. Although this is a relatively small project, it will start at grassroots level where transformation needs to happen,” mentions Ntubeni. The President’s Trust offers talented youngsters the chance to realise their potential through improving both their sporting development and schooling. The players were actively involved in the entire winemaking process and gained hands-on experience from the picking of grapes, to destalking, pressing and finally bottling the 2015 ES Merlot. Following in the winemaking footsteps of other rugby legends such as Jan Boland Coetzee, Hempies du Toit and Schalk Burger, this might not be the last efforts in the cellar by this inspirational trio. Only 500 bottles of the wine was produced and it is presented in a three-pack box set with a bottle of Mitre’s Edge Cabernet Sauvignon and their flagship Sholto as well as an autographed photo journal documenting the three players’ wine journey. “It was a privilege working with these players as we believe in investing in the future of our youth. Scarra has definitely been the driving force behind the initiative, which we hope will continue to future vintages. It is really rewarding to be part of a process which could be responsible for unearthing a future . . .
Cape Town, South Africa – On Saturday, 7 May 2016, the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) and Spur will handover almost 4 000 rugby jerseys to schools signed under the union’s rugby structure. The event will take place at the Bellville Technical High School. This mini rugby day, billed as one of the biggest events at school level in Western Province Rugby, will also be attended by DHL Stormers stars Nizaam Carr, Jean Kleyn, Leolin Zas, Wilco Louw, Brandon Thomson, Jean-Luc du Plessis, EW Viljoen, David Ribbans and Kurt Coleman. These young rugby stalwarts will mingle with the children and parents and will be available for signature sessions and photo opportunities during the day. The union will welcome 318 teams from 93 different schools with matches set to start at 08:00 and conclude by 14:00. Over the last few years this event has grown significantly and has seen the start of many successful careers of rugby players that have gone on to wear the famous blue and white DHL Western Province hoops. “Spur Steak Ranches is proud to present our future rugby champions with the platform to enjoy sports and hone their skills through the enjoyable game of mini rugby”, said Khakhi Diala, Brand Activation Manager of the Spur Group. Spur is the majority sponsor of the mini rugby day. “We are very thankful to Spur for supporting this worthy initiative to introduce young people to rugby and grow the game. Spur has been our partner in this day since 2009, so we value their support and look forward to another successful Mini Rugby Day”, said Thelo Wakefield, President of the Western Rugby Football Union. This event is part of WPRFU’s effort to make the game of rugby accessible to all young South Africans living in the region. Entry fees: R10 per adult and R10 per vehicle, with children under 12 allowed in for free. The above mentioned DHL Stormers players will be available for a signature and photo session from 10:00 to 11:00. Western Province Rugby . . .
The FNB NMMU Madibaz are looking forward to the home ground advantage when they take on Varsity Cup newbies FNB Wits at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Monday night. Madibaz captain Roy Godfrey said good crowd support would go a long way to boosting the team’s on-field performance in the first of four home games in the 2013 campaign and encouraged PE fans to come down and spectate. “If you’ve got the crowd behind you, it’s just so much easier,” he said. “We played our first game in Cape Town last week and the whole stadium was packed.” Despite the partisan crowd and gale-force winds, the Madibaz mounted a solid defence against the FNB Ikey Tigers to draw the game 5-5. “Although we missed a few try-scoring opportunities, to draw away from home against the champions from two years ago wasn’t bad. We will build on that for this week’s game.” Head coach Brent Janse van Rensburg was satisfied with the committed display from his side in some tough conditions at the notorious Green Mile, but believes that they are capable of raising their standards significantly in front of their passionate home crowd. “True courage, bravery and resilience were shown out on that field, which have become qualities that are deep-rooted in the Madibaz men. I feel that the team grew from the experience and will be better for it,” he said. “We are very confident, but grounded for Monday evening. “We realise that we need to be prepared to fight every week and we feel that to get our performance up to where we want to be does not require major open heart surgery.” This will be Wits’ first year in the top-tier event, after winning promotion from the Varsity Shield competition last season. “They are the new team in the competition and, even though they lost to the Shimlas last week, we certainly can’t take them lightly,” said Godfrey, a second-year business management student. “But we are expected to win, so if we stick to our . . .