Journey comes full circle

2013-08-27 00:00

FORMER Sharks assistant coach Grant Bashford has gone back to school, accepting a contract at Northwood as the school’s first team rugby coach.

It’s a journey that has reached full circle for Bashford as he is an old boy of the school and taught there for 13 years.

Bashford was part of the Sharks coaching set- up under John Plumtree who was asked to leave the union last month. He is still under contract until the end of this year with the Sharks but relished the opportunity to stay in rugby, albeit at another level.

“That’s the life of a professional coach,” he said. “While the going is good, it’s a job everybody wants, but sooner or later, there reaches a point where you are out of contract and it’s back to the start.

“For me, it’s great to still be involved in rugby as a coach and the timing of this venture could not have been better.”

Focusing on a business where he is in partnership with another Northwood old boy, Bashford is relishing the opportunity to divide his time between this and coaching, plus spend more time with his family.

“Professional coaching is disruptive when it comes to family life. Time away from home, regular commitments — they all add up,” he said. “Now I can spend time with my three boys — Dale (13), Ben (8) and Mitch (3) — and watch them progress to and through high school before considering another high-profile coaching position.”

Bashford acknowledged he had received some offers after leaving the Sharks, locally and internationally. At the end of the day, while the lure of big money was always present, he opted to step back from the big time for a while.

“I have the credentials for coaching at a high level and this will stand me in good stead in the future. As long as I can stay at the coal face of rugby, at any level, I will be happy,” he said.

The appointment at Northwood came about through the school’s strong Old Boys Club.

“I was asked whether I would consider coaching at the school and was keen to return to a place I know well,” said Bashford. “I met with the old boys and the headmaster and I officially start on September 1.

“I have met with the players and had one session with them. It’s far too early to gauge anything yet, but now is the time to work toward next season. It’s a refreshing challenge and I look forward to it.”

Knowing that schoolboy rugby is a “big game these days,” Bashford is under no illusions that he needs the right people and players to ensure that his team and the school remain competitive and be respected.

“Obviously we want great results and want to provide strong opposition for the traditionally strong local rugby schools,” he said. “As time goes on, we will get the right players in the right areas and move forward.”

Bashford Stats

• Played cricket and rugby for Natal. Was a wicket-keeper, batsman and

scrumhalf.

• Never had much opportunity for the Sharks as he was understudy to Kevin Putt.

• Was on the bench for the 1993 Currie Cup final in Durban against the Lions.

• Joined the Sharks in 2006 as coach Dick Muir’s

assistant.

• Worked with John Plumtree from 2007.

• Took Sharks to Currie Cup glory in 2008 v Bulls in Durban and 2010 v Western Province

in Durban.

• Lost Super Rugby final in 2007 v Bulls in Durban and 2012 v Chiefs in Hamilton.

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