South African rugby entered a new phase of professionalism with the launch of the Investec International Rugby Academy in June under the leadership of Springbok assistant coach Dick Muir and former All Black legend Murray Mexted.
This is the first international chapter of the original International Rugby Academy which was started in New Zealand in 2001 by Mexted and Sean Fitzpatrick.
The Investec International Rugby Academy South Africa will provide the same intensive, high-level rugby tuition to players and coaches seeking a career in the game, or those already in it.
“With the growth of professionalism in rugby there is a real demand for quality rugby education,” said Mexted, the Managing Director of the International Rugby Academy New Zealand.
“Rugby has expanded rapidly over the last few years and is now a truly global sport. Our aim with the Investec International Rugby Academy in South Africa is to lay a solid foundation to prepare the local players and coaches for the world of professional rugby.”
Muir has been equally thrilled to be at the helm of this new initiative.
“I think this is one of the most exciting things to happen to our rugby in years. This will offer our players and coaches an unprecedented level of professionalism, and then the future is indeed bright for South African rugby.”
The first course took place at the University of Pretoria’s High Performance Centre under the guidance of Muir, and it featured some of the leading minds in world rugby such as Springbok coaches Pieter de Villiers, Dick Muir and Garry Gold, Sean Fitzpatrick, Ian McDonald, Garth Wright, Hugh Reece-Edwards, Christian Cullen, Naas Botha and Nick Farr-Jones.
“It went extremely well,” said Mexted. “We didn’t realise we would discover a lot more players who play at different levels, especially the lower levels. This is the raw, natural talent we need to fine tune and up-skill.”
“It was a challenge, but also a tremendous opportunity. The course is all about the transfer of specialised knowledge, and South Africa is very lucky to have this academy with coaches of the highest calibre. Dick Muir and the other individual coaches spent time with each individual, assessing and coaching. Normally you are lucky to have two coaches – here you have one for each position.
“We were extremely lucky to be part of the experience that is aimed at every aspect of the game – discipline, tactics and personal fitness – all on a practical level,” one of the players Wesley Bodmar said.
One player who attended the first course has already received offers from two Currie Cup teams.
“The greatest thing for me personally was that we brought together the high level expertise – a proverbial think tank – that focussed solely on what could work better, how to develop technical ability and performance. I expect this South Africa course to become highly regarded and respected within short of time,” said Mexted.