Old boys take the reins at College

2015-01-08 00:00

AS former Maritzburg College director of rugby Ryan Strudwick takes over the role of UKZN Impi head coach this year, the reins of the 1st XV return to the hands of College old boys.

The 2015 season will see last year’s head coach Kevin Smith take over the director of rugby role while Francois Lubbe becomes the new head coach — the latter bidding farewell to Kears­ney’s 1st XV.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Smith was excited at the prospect of carrying on the momentum left by Strudwick.

Last year, College’s 1st XV enjoyed a good season winning 12 of their 18 fixtures while losing four and drawing two.

“With my background being an old boy and having worked with College Rovers U20s in the past, I was more suited at dealing with junior players. Combined with Ryan’s technical knowledge, we developed a good game plan and I believe we only deserved to lose against Grey Bloem last year,” he explained.

College were trumped only by Glenwood (to whom they lost narrowly in both fixtures), Wynberg and Grey Bloem.

Considering the results, Smith hopes to bring about a change in the spirit of the school’s rugby sides, restoring a sense of pride in the jersey, which he recalls fondly.

“When I was at College, we always ran out onto the field believing we could win, it’s something we want to bring back,” he said.

With the help of Lubbe as well as Ryan Kyle, who are both College old boys, Smith believes they can achieve just that.

“These are guys who have put on the jersey, they know the spirit and what it means to be a College boy,” he added.

While Lubbe takes charge of the 1st XV, Smith will have a chance to focus on the broader rugby structures at the school. He will work closely with the junior sides and wants to empower the existing coaches by upskilling them.

Another aspect he aims to improve in the next few years is the recruitment of players to the school.

Recruitment is a controversial topic in schoolboy rugby as teams are often accused of poaching players from other schools. However, the new director of rugby is aiming to avoid such situations.

“Our recruitment in the past has been hit and miss. We want to work closely with primary schools, recruit local players and foster their development. It doesn’t help to bring older guys into the 1st XV as they struggle to develop the spirit of the school,” he said.

A number of players have already trained in a wider squad towards the end of last year and they will meet up again for a two-day camp before the start on the new school year.

The school bid farewell to a large number of 1st XV players this year, but Smith believes a large contingent of last year’s 2nd team players will make up the majority of the 1st XV, while they retain four or five players from last year’s 1st XV.

“It certainly bodes well for our prospects this year, as the 2nd team started to gel very well last season” Smith said.

Highlighting his emphasis on school pride, Smith said he was an old boy who believes in Reunion days that bring back thousands of old Collegians.

“To do that, there has to be a sense of brotherhood. We want to restore that feeling of family.”

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