Coach’s Corner – Rugby Academies – Money Making Scam Or Not?


I attended the Investec 5 Day Coaches Course from 13 – 17 December at St Charles College in Pietermaritzburg.

I had some initial reservations about the applicability of the course material to my specific situation, as I am presently involved at /13 level and assumed that most of the technical stuff would be too advanced for boys at such a junior level.

I will discuss how I feel about said reservations after attending the course below.

Please also view my comments in light of the fact that I am a very fat old prop and that I was not prepared for the fairly strenuous nature of the course. 10-hour days, time spent in the blazing sun and fines meetings that only start at my normal bedtime contributed to me having a slightly dazed expression at the end of day 2. The course introduction mentioned mental toughness and the rigorous days tested that in my case. I did survive to tell the tale…

The Good

In retrospect, anyone that loves coaching will love being on the course. The information is up to date, the presenters, in general, communicate their ideas and philosophies well and the practical and position-specific classes should add value to most coaches. There were also sessions on nutrition and recovery and on drug use in sport.

A recurring theme from the instructors is that there are many ways to skin a cat and that their approach is not the sine qua non of rugby coaching. This was apparent in that some of the coaches had differences views on where a ball should be caught or who the decision maker should be at the back.

Most questions were accepted and answered with patience and in many cases led to other topics being discussed, in addition to the indicated lecture content. All instructors played or coached or were involved with rugby at a provincial or national level and their anecdotes and examples from their lived experiences provided the class with great enjoyment – almost like a peek behind the curtains for us mere mortals.

What I found fascinating was that a straw poll I conducted indicated the talk by Paul Anthony about team culture was a favourite among the coaches.

My notes simply read “Rugby = Family = Love”. I think that about covers it.

And this was borne out by the time spent with the coaches and instructors in the evenings. The coaches represented a very diverse spectrum of age, experience in playing and coaching, level of present coaching and virtually all other demographic differentiators. That’s why I found myself in a conversation about Africanism and the concept of Ubuntu the one moment and chatting to a coach about the boys in his area preferring gang initiation to playing rugby the next.

I think as coaches we sometimes become inward focused on our program and team and lose sight that the bonds of rugby connect everyone involved in this magnificent sport – being on the course reaffirmed that understanding.

The Bad

I do not think the heading is totally appropriate, but I love Spaghetti Westerns and I am going with it.

As a primary school coach, I understand that the course material cannot be reduced to the lowest common denominator, which in our group’s case would be boys at /13 level. I had a chat to some of the other /13 coaches on the course and everyone agreed that some of the concepts and skills discussed would be very challenging to implement and coach at such a basic level. Having said that it should be possible to simplify certain concepts to the level you are coaching at.

The Ugly

The old saying of “what happens on tour stays on tour” prohibits me from saying too much… 😉

However, if you have a choice of attending either the June or December course I might suggest the mid-year one – the heat and humidity in Sleepy Hollow is brutal this time of the year.

Would I attend it again, knowing what I know now? Certainly. I might even attend again next year.

Article by: Rainier Vermaak from Jeffreys Bay Laerskool

Any remarks or questions to Rainier regarding this article must be sent via email to Remember this is a coaches only section.

But after reading this I must ask if Rainier got a free T-Shirt?


Rainier Vermaak - Dear Carl, I did not receive a free t-shirt.