McIntosh becomes first South African to receive IRB award for service

2013-11-19 00:00

IAN McIntosh, the former Sharks and Springbok coach, last night became the first South African to receive the International Rugby Board award for distinguished service.

The prestigious Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service was made to McIntosh during the IRB World Rugby Conference in Dublin last night.

McIntosh flew to Dublin on Sunday to receive the accolade. Previous winners are former All Black captains Brian Lochore and Jock Hobbs, and the influential Tom Kiernan and Ronnie Dawson, who both captained Ireland and the British Lions.

The IRB said that the Award for Distinguished Service was presented to an individual who had given outstanding service to their country and contributed to the international game in playing, coaching, management, training and administration.

The 75-year-old McIntosh, who has been a Springbok Test selector for the past 10 years and is still heavily involved in coaching with the SA Legends, told The Witness that he was “deeply humbled and honoured by the award”.

He dedicated the award to those who had supported him and allowed him to continue his involvement in the game as selector and coach well past the normal sell-by date.

“This award is appreciation for those people at the SA Rugby Union who have allowed me to continue as a Springbok selector and to those at SA Rugby Legends for allowing me to pursue my passion and carry on with my coaching.”

During his dozen years with the SA Legends, McIntosh has been involved in the coaching of some 60 000 youngsters.

McIntosh’s career in coaching is a remarkable one, starting in Zimbabwe and stretching over 50 years. He spent 12 years as the Natal (now Sharks) coach, taking them to the first Currie Cup title win in their history in 1990. During the 1990s, and either side of his brief stint as Springbok coach, he took the Sharks to five Currie Cup finals in eight years and only one was lost.

He was a member on the South African technical panel and served on the IRB’s experimental law committee.

McIntosh’s award last night was his second.

Back in 1994, he was presented with the DCM (Don’t Come Monday) award by the belligerent South African rugby boss Louis Luyt, who fired him as Springbok coach after the tour of New Zealand and a year before the Rugby World Cup.

McIntosh pioneered the direct style of rugby with his young Natal team, a highly successful approach, but one which dismayed the uninitiated and the traditionalists.

Nick Mallett, the former Springbok coach and now television pundit, is convinced that McIntosh deserves far more credit for his innovative approach.

“McIntosh was ahead of his time,” Mallett told Gavin Rich, author of the recently published book The Poisoned Chalice, “and he was treated badly.

“The irony is that the game that most of the rugby world has played for the past 20 years has been the game that McIntosh was trying to establish.”

Francois Pienaar, who captained the Kitch Christie-coached Springboks at the 1995 World Cup, said that his team had stuck to the McIntosh game in taking the title on that memorable day at Ellis Park.

And, as former Sharks and Springbok lock Mark Andrews has said, “compliments do not come bigger than that”.

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