KZN Impi calls for keen new players

2013-11-16 00:00

AMBITIOUS young players intent on being selected for the University of KwaZulu-Natal Impi rugby team for the 2014 Varsity Shield campaign that kicks off at the end of January are invited to attend the UKZN Impi Varsity Shield trials, which start at 2 pm next Thursday, November 21 on UKZN’s Edgewood campus.

All interested players who would like to try out for the UKZN Impi will also get a chance to be selected for the Impi’s first match, a pre-season friendly against Varsity Cup side Wits University on Monday, December 2 at the Peter Booysen Sports Park rugby stadium on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

Prospective trialists must contact and state name, position and highest team played for. The UKZN squad to play Wits University, as well as the squad to attend the December camp from December 2 to December 14 in PMB and Durban will be announced after the trials.

Impi head coach John Mitchell announced the names of his Varsity Shield coaching staff at a breakfast in the SinBin pub and grub at the PMB campus rugby stadium on Wednesday morning.

What is gratifying is that the former All Blacks head coach’s expertise is sure to rub off directly on key members of the KZN capital’s school coaching fraternity — and indirectly on the cream of the KZN Midlands’ schoolboy talent — not to mention the knowledge these schoolboy coaches will feed off from newly appointed Impi backline and kicking coach, World Cup-winning flyhalf Butch James.

The assistant coaches who have been assigned specialist roles by Mitchell in the Impi coaching staff are Maritzburg College director of rugby and first XV head coach Ryan Strudwick, the loose forward who enjoyed an auspicious playing career that saw him captain London Irish and the British Barbarians; Michaelhouse director of rugby Ryno Combrinck, a fine loose forward in Blue Bull country in his heyday; and Dylan Campbell, the director of sports at Pelham Senior Primary, a highly regarded young coach.

The vital role of head of forwards coaching for all UKZN Rugby Club’s teams is Voortrekker’s director of rugby Shawn van Rensburg, a well-travelled former flanker who played for Newport Gwent Dragons and a number of other overseas teams during his career.

And the physical and emotional attachment to UKZN rugby goes further. Strudwick was a former Varsity star during his playing days from 1992 to 1996 on the PMB campus, while Combrinck, Campbell and Van Rensburg have all been coaches of the PMB Varsity first team. Mitchell said that James, who learnt his early rugby at Merchiston and Maritzburg College, wants to put something back into a city that has given him so much.

With a detailed master plan being put in place by Mitchell, one of the foremost thinkers in the game, never before has the future of university rugby in KZN looked so promising.

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