Braam the best thing for St Charles College rugby

Photo above: St Charles College director of sport Rowan Irons, first XV head coach Nick Jackson, 2017 rugby specialist Braam Van Straaten (now 2018 technical adviser) and principal Allen van Blerk.

In former Springbok flyhalf Braam van Straaten the Pietermaritzburg school St Charles College have unearthed a gem.| The school’s new director of rugby is bursting with enthusiasm at the challenge that lies ahead of him. And his ability was quickly noticed on day one by head of sport Rowan Irons.

“Braam picked up technically our seam bowler was struggling with stiffness and he sorted out the problem in no time,” says Irons.

Braam studied physical treaining , everything he knows comes from coding and hours of working with players, trial and error, information he has gathered over time.

“I develop things I don’t copy and it all comes from working with 100s of young boys as well as professionals.,”

“St Charles is a great establishment, it’s in pristine condition and I was always made to feel very welcome by the staff, you want to be part of it, I learnt this when St Charles hosted our Investec Rugby Academy courses in PMB.”

The name Braam van Straaten is internationally known, so it’s a big name in terms of publicity for Saints.

But that’s not why they employed him.

“What attracted us was watching how Braam ignited the passion in the young boys at the Investec Academy and his ability to get the boys to believe in their capabilities, which is aligned with the ethos of St Charles College,” says Irons.

“Another attraction is Braam is a trained teacher so all he does comes from an educational perspective and that is important to us,” adds Irons.

Braam believes his priority is instilling in his boys an understanding of the game, this is what gives him satisfaction.

“I see myself as a technical performance coach who enables the player to understand why it is he is being asked to do what the coach asks of him.”

Rowan sees Braam’s task as contributing to bringing St Charles College’s winter sports up to the level that is currently being enjoyed by the summer sports.

“We also want to keep the focus on education through sport and with the processes Braam brings and his attention to detail we have goals that don’t just stop in PMB – it’s a process that we are committed to and excited about.”

Braam believes if players get the correct information it eliminates a whole heap, of time wasted on the training field.

“Things can change very quickly in a team – and a school – we’re looking to hit the ground running at St Charles. I’ve been fortunate to coach all around the world, and learn from some of the best coaches  so if you instil a belief, for me it’s not about a five year plan it’s about getting it right from the word go and I have done this before in just 10 sessions.

“I have taken a team within a 10-session period and as a first XV ranked 90th in SA and they have beaten a school first XV ranked 12th in the country , it was this year, Northern Cape versus Diamantveld on their derby day 32-17.”

That speaks volumes for the calibre of coach and mentor St Charles College have at their disposal.

“It is about progression from session to session rather than week to week or month to month, with the correct information it can happen a lot quicker.

“You can change something in a three-hour period, that is what I have learnt in 12 years of coaching, you have to get the young player to understand why they are doing it, they have to understand the logic of the skill and what the benefit of doing that drill is going to give them.”

This is what gives a lesser-profile school’s players the self-belief necessary to beat a high school far more highly regarded .

“I am a firm believer that in SA we have not given the players the technical know-how of playing what they see in front of them; ability is born and not coached, but that natural ability can mask the fact that every player who has aspirations must learn the why of what he is doing.”

Van Straaten has developed an athlete profile that reveals the perception the players have of their knowledge base.

“ I think a fault in SA is that we over-complicate things, we need to break it down and simplify the process, to get the players to understand why they are doing what they are doing.”

The five schools in one that is St Charles College means that much of Braam’s focus will be on the junior school section.

“Analysis and feedback on a day to day basis is essential.”

Van Straaten says rugby teaches a player life lessons that he can take with him in his day to day life,.

“Rugby is the sport that teaches you so much about life, it taught me everything I need to know;, we need to find what makes St Charles College special, we want to inspire young boys to be better people, better rugby players and better athletes.”

It is clear that St Charles rugby is on the right track and in Braam van Straaten they have the strategist with the technical and practical knowledge to steer the school into a bright new rugby era.

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