Hope you are well.
I see so much negativity as we can't play any rugby in 2020, I feel everyone's pain, but here is what I missed for 23 years, which is positive again.
I've been coaching rugby for the last 23 years and rugby has only been good to me or so I thought.
For the last 23 years, I have been on the road for 10 of the 12 months doing rugby. That was my life, every March / April holiday I was on a High School tour or working at a rugby clinic somewhere.
For the first time in 6 years, I was at my son's birthday March 31 and was able to enjoy the day with him and my wife, no friends due to the lockdown, just us as a family. I can spend time with my family, quality time together, something I am very grateful for. The "rest" did me good.
I think it did the Springbok team that won the world cup also some "good", their bodies had a well-deserved rest, maybe gave them another year or even longer to play, the same goes for the other professional players in SA.
I feel rested and even more in love with my family than ever, I don't want the schools to restart.
The time spent in solitude also gave me time to think about everything, to work on things I never had time for. The SA Rugby webinars have once again proven that I am on the right track in what we do at school/rugby. Thank you to everyone who made it possible. It remains a challenge, but you have had time to think of what worked for you and what can I do to improve on it.
Regarding our players we had to start thinking out of the box to keep them busy, conditioners had to change programs, fortunately, we got expert help at the school, the Rugby Union and SA Rugby via the EPD programs.
We gave the boys weekly challenges and they had to send videos of them exercising. Everything ran well until online classes started and available data began to decline, academics began to get preference. We all understand that.
What is a coach doing now? No sport for the year, well we hope not.
What do you focus on as a coach?
My personal opinion:
For the first 3 months, I'm going to focus on each player in their position, improving their positional skills. I will give each boy exercises that he should do along with videos he can study and make his summaries, I am will ask for videos of his progression.
Exercise programs must be tailored to each player's position. He has to set his own goals and make sure he achieves that, we will test him regularly and see where he is and assist him where we can.
The professional rugby player of the future must know that he has to be able to tackle everything on his own and do his research to get to the top, coaches are there to teach them just the finer things.
Now the other big question:
I get many questions from parents about what to do with their sons, especially matric boys. Should they repeat the year or not?
All national youth weeks were cancelled, and I do not think that the Universities will blindly award scholarships. What can a parent do?
Again my personal opinion:
Not something I was a big fan of in the past, I always was opposed to post-matrics, but after COVID-19 dare I reassess my views?
The U/19 Currie Cup was cancelled and club rugby does not exist in rural towns so he will simply disappear. He has a better chance of getting a scholarship at a university or even a professional contract if he repeats Grade 12.
Schoolboy rugby offers a lot more exposure for a 19-year-old at this stage than any other rugby after school.
In my community, the chance to go to university is slim, even for deserving pupils. Bursaries are most of the times the only way to secure further education.
It remains a difficult choice, not only for players and parents but for schools as well. If a player repeats a grade, he prevents a younger player from being noticed. This will make other parents unhappy.
What effect will COVID-19 have on schoolboys and schoolboy rugby in 2021 and 2022?
Would like to hear your opinion?