Never-say-die Mbiko

2018-05-03 06:00
Louis Mzomba at the back with Kenny Paarwater and Desmond Naude. In front is Koos Paarwater, Norman Mbiko and his wife.

Louis Mzomba at the back with Kenny Paarwater and Desmond Naude. In front is Koos Paarwater, Norman Mbiko and his wife.

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The success currently enjoyed by the South African Sevens Team can be attributed to the structures, manuals and game plans that Norman Mbiko developed and put in place when he started to coach them, way after unification.

He took over the Sevens Team from the late Millin Petersen when all countries competed in the Melrose Sevens Tournament.

Mbiko , a scrumhalf, is currently the only living Black Springbok Captain of the South African Rugby Association, also known as the Leopards, with their headquarters in the Eastern Cape.

He was 23 and still playing for the Flying Eagles and Western Province when he was called to captain the African Springboks.

He was ahead of his age group for years and played for a WP Invitation XV as a 17-year old, and received his WP men’s colours while still at Langa High School.

During his last two years at school, he was selected to the SA Schools team, alongside the likes of future fellow Springboks’ right-wing Stanford Mzanywa and Eastern Province lock Meshack Cushe.

In 1965 and 1966 he played his first two Partons Cup tournaments in Langa, respectively in Cape Town and in Johannesburg.

His rival was EP scurmhalf Wallace Xotyeni, but Norman was a bigger match winner because of a fanatical never-say-die competitivenes.

In 1967 he was instrumental when the African Springboks beat the Federation twice and then beat the SA Coloured Rugby Board 9-3 at Green Point track, after he took over the kicking duties, with Cushe having fallen short.

In 1969 he was the national team captain and came head-to-head with his friend and former WP colleague Cassiem Jabaar (also a scrumhalf) when they beat the South African Rugby Union 9-8.

He also played against Yusuf “Jowa” Abrahams in 1968 when Norman and his team beat Saru 9-22 at the Wolfson Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

In 1971 he had an excellent game against Dougie Dyers’ Proteas and were the victors by 10-3. The rugby public was lobbying for Norman, Morgan Cushe and Mlungisi Ndzala to tour with Dyers and his team to England but this didn’t materialise.

In 1972 the African Team was renamed South African Rugby Association and Norman lead the team against John Pullen’s 1972 England touring side.

He was dropped in favour of his friend Xotyeni for clashes with the Proteas. When Italy toured South Africa the SARA selectors fell back on Mbiko’s experience although they dropped him from the Leopards team in favour of East London schoolboy Gibson Gawulayo.

Mbiko played in teams which lost by vast margins to the 1974 British Lions, the 1975 French tourists and the 1976 All Blacks. In the first test in 1974 against the Proteas he was dropped and SARA lost 10-3. He was recalled for the test in Goodwood and they won 21-13.

Veteran sports writer AC Parker of the Argus rated Mbiko as the best scrumhalf of any colour in South Africa.

In 1977 he was invited to the first all-race Springbok trials in Pretoria for the World XV at the age of 32 and his eigthman was Wynand Claasen, a former Springbok captain.

He attended many coaching seminars including IRB courses and in 1980, the International Coaches Congress in Cardiff, Wales.

He found his niche in Western Province and South African rugby coaching as Senior Coaching Officer.

He has served as technical advisor to several national team coaches, and was the manager to the SA team that won the 2003 Under 19 World Cup in France.

In his community, he is seen as the Father of all rugby players and when Women’s rugby was introduced in 2002, he entered a women’s team from Lagunya, a club established in 1992.

Dinah Zweni was the first female Springbok from the club. Louis Mzomba, one of his proteges became the first African referee of Saru, and Sikhumbuzo Notshe is the latest Bok from Lagunya.

He was a member of the Chris Burger/Petro Jackson Fund for 20 years until he resigned in 2017 due to illness.

Players from the club went on to become referees, administrators and selectors due to his encouragement and guidance. Education was always key to developing his players at Lagunya and one player that he is very proud of, is Brian Huno, captain for the South African Xpress. His son Mark, played Sevens for WP.

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