New era for Saints

2016-09-21 06:00
At the announcement (from left) Head of sport Rowan Irons, senior 1st XV rugby coach Nick Jackson, Braam van Straaten and principal of St Charles College Allen van Blerk.                                                                   PHOTO: justin smit

At the announcement (from left) Head of sport Rowan Irons, senior 1st XV rugby coach Nick Jackson, Braam van Straaten and principal of St Charles College Allen van Blerk. PHOTO: justin smit

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ST Charles College have made a serious statement in getting their rugby up to a competitive and respected level with the appointment of former Springbok kicking ace Braam van Straaten as the rugby specialist.

Van Straaten played 21 Tests for the Boks from 1999 to 2001, mainly at flyhalf, scoring 221 points. He was renowned for his accurate goal-kicking and it is his prowess with the boot that has taken him on a long and fruitful coaching journey, his advice on goal-kicking in particular used by the Springboks and Australian rugby teams among others in past years.

The appointment was announced at the school last Friday and Van Straaten has a five-year deal as he finally puts his roots down for a while.

“I arrived from Bloemfontein on Thursday and the official announcement was made the following day,” he said. “I have been so busy coaching and assisting particularly at schools and refer to myself as a technical performance coach, having worked throughout South Africa.”

That means Van Straaten looks at all aspects of the game, not only kicking, although he does assist players in that discipline through the online medium. “I am at St Charles to commit to their rugby cause and to take rugby at the school where it wants to and should be,” said Van Straaten.

“Five years is a decent period to get results and put systems in place and for me, it’s finally somewhere I can set up base camp for a long while.”

St Charles is not new to Van Straaten, who has visited the school in the past with the Investec Academy of Excellence. The atmosphere, the vibe, the staff and the boys were an instant hit with him and to finally return for an extended period where he can focus his whole attention on the sport at the school is what he has craved. In today’s working world, this is one man who could truthfully say he does love his job.

“I like a challenge and this will definitely be one that requires hard work. I can at least settle down and it is something that gets me out my comfort zone,” he said. “As a student of the game for the past 12 years I find schoolboy rugby interesting and while coaching kicking was initially my forte, I can now say I am a coach.”

But, for Van Straaten, it goes further than just saying he is a coach. He is a man who has a great feel and passion for rugby and he bursts at the seams to share that spirit with those who take the time to listen and put in the effort. For him, schoolboy rugby is the perfect platform and launching pad.

“As a coach, I develop my own stuff, my own style, my own patterns,” he said. “From that, it is incredible to see how progress is made by schoolboy teams and I pride myself on not copying anyone. My goal is to get the sport and the teams to places where they are happy with their game, the style they play and the results they achieve.”

The vision and the dream are there, but Van Straaten knows success and change will not happen overnight. “Obviously it will take time to get a process in place and working. The key is to get the energy and goals heading in the right direction,” he said.

“I need to see where rugby is at St Charles and then decide what to do and then move ahead accordingly.

“We need to put down a strong and recognisable footprint for St Charles rugby.”

This is the start of exciting, new times for rugby at St Charles. The school already compete with the likes of Hilton, Kearsney, Michaelhouse and College and with Van Straaten putting the lads through their paces and guiding from the touchline, there could be some historic chapters written in the school’s rugby history in time to come.

“I want to get an identity for St Charles rugby. We must become renowned for how we play and compete and these criteria must be put in place and the process must be understood by all involved,” he said.

“This is one of the most exciting ventures I have been on and I look forward with confidence to what lies ahead and what we will achieve. With the support team I have at the school and the boys involved, it can only lead to rich, rewarding success.”

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