Ralph Cawood, rugby coach and family man, dies

2010-03-15 00:00

WELL-KNOWN rugby coach and devoted family man Ralph Cawood died suddenly on Tuesday, at the age of 52.

A truly selfless man, Cawood’s beloved sons and family came first, while pursuing his other great passion, coaching rugby. He was assistant manager and coach at the Midlands Rugby Academy at the time of his death.

Schooled at Christian Brothers’ College in Kimberley and Kearsney College, Cawood was a physical education graduate of the Johannesburg College of Education.

He taught at King’s School and Clifton Prep in Nottingham Road before taking up a post with the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union, as its development officer in the Midlands Rugby Sub-union.

This is perhaps where Cawood discovered his true calling, combining his passion for coaching rugby with his compassion for those less privileged. Like all the best coaches, Cawood had an eye for spotting raw young talent, even among those who did not come from a rugby culture.

Trawling the sprawling townships in and outside KwaZulu-Natal’s capital, as far afield as Bruntville in Mooi River, Cawood discovered and introduced youngsters to the game with such success that a healthy number accepted rugby bursaries from top schools.

And in so doing, Cawood changed the lives of many children from deprived backgrounds, even those who didn’t excel in the game, his humble example inspiring all those whose lives he touched.

Cawood was a talented back-line player, predominantly at flyhalf and centre, in his younger days, and represented the Kearsney, Maritzburg Varsity and DHS Old Boys first XVs as well as the Natal Duikers.

An honourable man who enjoyed life to the full while disliking pomp and ceremony, Cawood could be said to have got it right, putting others before self and serving his fellow man.

He never judged, always seeing the good in others. Apart from rugby, his other interests included farming and herb cultivation.

Cawood’s unique qualities will be sorely missed by all. There are not many like him.

Ralph Cawood Cawood, born in Kimberley on November 2 1957, died near the Hilton off-ramp in Pietermaritzburg last Tuesday, after suffering a massive heart attack.

He was returning to the family farm, and had managed to pull over and come to a halt in his vehicle. He had mentioned chest pains after a Maritzburg U-20 practice at Woodburn Rugby Stadium in the afternoon.

A devoted family man, Cawood leaves his beloved sons Ralph-Marc and Guy, mother Yvounne, twin sisters Jeanne and Bridgette, and brothers Timothy and Nicholas.

A memorial service for Cawood will be held at the Michaelhouse chapel at 3 pm tomorrow.

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