The magnificent Maritzburg College 1st XV of 1972

Legendary coach JM “Skonk” Nicholson’s 1972 Maritzburg College first XV is widely regarded as one of the half-dozen-or-so best rugby teams the school has produced in its ever-distinguished 159-year history.

I had just turned 8 at the start of the 1972 schools’ winter sports season and that year is my earliest – and most vivid – memory of watching College on Goldstones although my late dad, Roy (Maritzburg College Class of 1944) recalled taking me along in 1970 and 71.

Skonk’s 1972 team featured a remarkable 10 Natal Schools’ Craven Week players and, had it not been for untimely injuries, a few more names might have been added to that illustrious list.

And, as was Skonk’s wont, this Flagship Rugby Team of The Year 1972 epitomised what is a mastery of the game’s fundamental elements, the increasingly unfashionable but ever-necessary platform skills that lay down the framework for the eye-catching fancy stuff that captures the hearts and minds of the myriad schoolgirls (who are also catching the eye) in the precinct of Basher Ridge.

And to cap it all, the 1972 Boys in Red Black and White – astutely captained by the little general, scrumhalf Roy Davidson, enjoyed all the other hallmarks of the renowned Maritzburg College rugby sides from both earlier and, there after:

A rampaging machine-gun-efficient ruthless tight five who took no prisoners before or after the game – I spot the broadest shoulders in the team in prop forward Pip Anderson (second from left, back row) though for some reason I can’t recall right now whether Pip was the this celebrated team’s loosehead or tighthead(?). Peter Rodseth, Colin Heard, John Nolte et al perhaps you can enlighten me?

The trademark marauding Red Black White loose forwards fed a surfeit of quick, clean possession to a classically nimble of-thought-and-invention halfback combination in Messrs Davidson and his Perfect 10 – the most natural athlete of all natural athletes – one helluva flyhalf, Neville Daniels, whose tactical acumen with ball in-hand-and out- orchestrated the Grand Show that thrilled the Goldstones Faithful to the end.

And then came the Rolls Royce moments… what a joy it was to see the likes of Top Gun winger Laurie Sharp and Silky Smooth 15 Mark Hedley at their schoolboy peak; sublime skill-sets that were an ace-of-base MasterMix – a fabulous salad dressing of no-frills economy of movement sprinkled with the most sophisticated motor skills yet seen on the schoolboy stage.

Aaaaa-aaaaah it was good.

So good.

Lions have shown that Bok physicality will not be enough

I am not going anywhere near contentious first Test decisions; the video questioning of match officials etcetera. It has been done by dozens already. When all is said and done, what happened cannot be changed. The Lions won.

There is a new referee for this match. What damage has been done by all the commenting by team officials and pundits, we don’t know.

The Lions’ first Test starting pack was heavier than the Bok eight; the Springboks don’t have the monopoly on “massive” forwards. The Lions gave away nothing in terms of fronting up to the physical challenge, despite an overall lacklustre first half from the tourists.

A game of two halves it was, and the crux was that the Lions were able to adapt and improve whereas the Boks weren’t. The Lions were able to right their wrongs of the first half in convincing fashion.

The Boks were neither able to take their world-renowned intensity to a new level nor were they able to sustain the intensity that they had managed to build in the first half. The Lions are fitter.

There are Covid-related reasons, yes, matches played and matches cancelled, yes, the worst possible Bok build-up to a Lions series ever, yes, but it doesn’t change the reality facing the Boks in this Saturday’s second Test.

An enduring mystery is how little an impact the Boks’ much-vaunted bomb squad front-row had when they entered the fray immediately after half-time. They could not reverse the gathering Lions momentum.

The Boks’ starting front-row, in contrast, were outstanding – and that dominance played a significant role in the momentum that generated a 12-3 half-time lead. We can only hope there will be a sustained effort over the full spectrum of the second Test match.

The bottom line is, the team that is better able to limit its penalties conceded (especially the unforced penalties in goal-kicking areas) will likely win a close Test match. And that is very closely linked to who dominates at scrum time, and therefore who is able to establish momentum.

The first-half penalty count belonged to the Boks. The second-half penalty count was a Lions landslide. The penalty count was determined by who was in control of the game. The team that is most disciplined, in not giving away soft penalties; this will be key.

The Lions also redirected their kicking game in the second half, punting the ball higher and a little shorter, distance-wise, which enabled more hanging time and hence more competitive kick-chases.

In the first half, the Lions were generally awkward and the composed Boks looked to be cruising to victory, but critically the men in green and gold didn’t punch home that advantage with a try or two. Marginal decisions in this match played a role, but however you look at it, the Boks need to create more try-scoring chances.

It was only in the second half that a put-upon South Africa seriously looked like scoring – and that came from situations where they were improvising in the moment. The Boks were forced by game situations to step out of their comfort zone and improvise. More of this is needed… this is an instinctively, naturally, talented Bok back three. Use them more.

As mentioned, match fitness was a key factor; the Lions are definitely in better physical condition than the Boks. The Covid problems in the Bok camp leading into the Test severely impacted their ability to last the pace in the second half, whereas the Lions just seemed to be getting stronger and stronger.

I fear that, with just 7 days between Tests it leaves no time to close this gap sufficiently enough to nullify the marked advantage that the tourists have in this facet.

Granted, and as mentioned, there were the tiniest of margins in several potentially match-altering moments but my prevailing feeling is that the Lions ultimately deserved the first Test win.

A critical factor, alluded to above, is that, between them, our match-winning wings hardly got the ball; barely a handful of times; in 80 minutes. There have to be ways found to include them more. They are major weapons in the Bok armoury.

And there is no superstar in number 8 Duane Vermeulen to give us renewed hope. His injury-enforced absence was never more evident than in the first Test.

My feeling on the second Test is that it is for the Lions to lose. They are in the pound seats right now.

A solid physical and tactical performance should be enough for the Lions this Saturday (and I hope I am wrong) whereas the Boks have a number of gears to change in order to get things right and level the series.

The first half will be crucial. The Lions will not give an inch physically. Somehow, the Boks will have to impose themselves on this match. It is going to take intelligence and power. Our men in green and gold must find a way. Key moments must be won.

It is a tantalising prospect. Bok win please.


KZN Inland Cricket is looking for a likely candidate to fill the position of Head Coach of the KZN Inland U16 boys age-group squads.

The role of the Head Coach is to develop and implement a high-performance coaching programme with the support of the Provincial Coach Education Manager for the Under 16 Age Group squads.

The primary purpose for the position is to have a positive impact in the preparation and coaching of both squad cricketers with the intent of enhancing the individual performance of the identified players.

The incumbent will be responsible amongst other things for the following key delivery areas:
•To develop the cricket specific components of the Player Performance Plan for identified cricketers.
•To Coordinate the interventions for the identified players as part of the Personal Development Plans of a cricketer.
•To guide the selection panel in the selection of the Provincial Under 16 training squad.
•To lead the identification of talent within National, Provincial or Franchise pipeline structures.


Shane Burger is one of KZN Inland Cricket’s favourite sons. Shane captained the senior team and went on to establish himself as a highly regarded international coach.


To develop the cricket specific components of the Player Performance Plan (PPP) for identified cricketers.
•Manage the planning process and ensuring that each identified cricketer has a plan aligned to the deliverables of the PPP.
•Work closely with the Provincial Coach Education Manager to establish and approve the planned outcomes of the PPP for each identified cricketer.
•Ensuring that support systems and structures for the identified cricketers are enhanced to sustain adequate individual performance standards.
•Outline performance expectations to the identified cricketers as well as his coach (i.e. school, club, Hub, etc.).
•Establish regular performance reviews and assessment of the identified cricketers.


Former Hilton College all-rounder Michael Booth captained his school first XI as well as KZN Inland U19 in his grade 12 year, which also included impressive performances for the KZN Inland senior team. Photo Martin Ashworth.


To Coordinate the interventions for the identified players as part of the Personal Development Plans of a cricketer.
•Ensure that an adequate needs analysis is conducted on each identified cricketer covering the following developmental aspects:
▪Physical (Physiological conditioning and Nutritional status).
▪Cricket Skills (Technical, Tactical and playing exposure).
▪Medical (Injury or illness).
▪Psychological (Socio-Psychological health and Mental Performance).
▪Socio-Culture (School Education, Post School Activities, Support networks, Socio-Economic status and Team Environment).
•Ensuring that adequate specialists are available to be assigned for the intervention measures with the support of the Provincial Coach Education Manager.
•Ensuring that regular communication and reporting with relevant stakeholders takes place (i.e. pipeline and other coaches, parents, specialists, etc.).


Mondli Khumalo and Jayden Gengan are both products of the Maritzburg College and KZN Inland pipeline.


To guide the selection panel in the selection of the Provincial Under 16 squad.
•To develop and implement structures within the province that can sustain talent identification aligned to the provincial pipeline structural requirements.
•To ensure that there is support and understanding of the programme undertaken by the key role players within the Provincial Schools’ cricket system through the assistance of Youth Cricket Coordinator/Cricket Services Manager.
•To work closely with the coaches of the identified cricketers within the squad by ensuring that the individual deliverable plans are supported and actioned.
•Introducing benchmark performance required to be attained by identified cricketers for each cricket discipline.


Former Westville Boys’ High star Luke Schlemmer is now an integral part of the KZN Inland senior team.


To lead the identification of talent within the National, Provincial or Franchise pipeline structures.
•To play a key role in the preparation and coaching of the selected Provincial Under 19 squad.
•To conduct off-season coaching programmes and camps.
•Prepare player reviews for implementation as per the PPP.
•To manage the identifying of talent for the franchise region talent camps and potential cricketers for the Cubs XI.

•Understanding the Player Performance Plan.
•Be able to Coach and Identify talent.
•Be able to evaluate and prepare training programmes to meet the needs of the identified cricketer.
•Be able to evaluate and monitor progress.
•Understanding the various coaching styles.
•Understanding of the CSA Long Term Player Development process.
•Knowledge of the domestic cricket systems.
•Understanding of the challenges of BA players within the CSA pipeline.
•Basic Mentoring principles.


Former Maritzburg College first XI captain Jacques van der Walt is one of many talented cricketers to have represented KZN Inland at age-group level.


•Development & nurturing focus.
•Results focused.
*Self-motivated & high work ethic.
•Deadline Driven (Critical).

•Minimum Level 3 Coaching Qualification, plus:
•Played Cricket at First Class Level will be an advantage.
•Driver’s Licence with own vehicle.

•More than 3-years’ credible coaching experience of elite cricketers.

•The Cricket Services Manager. website and social media thanks the outstanding #HalfwayToyota Howick dealership and its general manager, Maritzburg College Old Boy Brandon Brokensha, for their support. I cannot do this alone. Contact me at for info on the various advertising options and more. Together we are more. And why not give Brandon a call at 083 514 1089.


Suitably qualified candidates  are  invited  to apply  for the  position by  submitting  an application together with a comprehensive CV, certified copies of applicant’s South African ID, Valid RSA Driver’s Licence,  Valid  CSA  Level  III Coaching  Accreditation  qualification, Valid  Police  Clearance and  other appropriate qualifications  relating to the post,  and at least  two contactable  references,  to: Jason Sathiaseelan: by the close of business on Monday, 28th June 2021.

In making the final selection
Consideration will be given to the employment equity objectives of KZN Cricket.
*A performance agreement shall be entered into with  the successful applicant.
*The right not to make an appointment is reserved.
*Should you not be contacted within 30 days of the closing date, you may consider that your application is unsuccessful.


Jonathan Cook of website and social media thanks Hilton College Old Boy Rory Smith of Absolute Containers for sponsoring these 2 wonderful Powerbanks to ensure that Jono and his smartphone remain fully charged when it really matters!!! Thank you, dear Absolute Containers! No wonder you are the trendsetters in customised containers and modular solutions! Take a look

The perils of press interviews on the young

Grand Slam-winning tennis star Andy Murray’s mother, Judy, makes some telling points in reflecting on how it feels as a parent when watching your child going through a difficult interview with media.

Feature photo: The then 19-year-old Andy Murray a picture of despair during a press interview, having lost at the 2006 French Open. AP

Most young sportspeople of exceptional talent are not necessarily prepared for the spotlight that comes outside the confines – or relative freedom – of the playing field. It is easy to be caught off-guard by an unexpected enquiry.

After all, as a child you first want to play, actually compete, and – hopefully – win. That is your focus; not being asked questions that can be tricky to answer.

And with the overwhelming focus of social media, those unexpected questions can lead to a long tail of comments by persons who (i) may not even know you and/or the circumstances, and/or (ii) do not have sufficient grasp of the issue to be in a position to comment with authority. But comment… some certainly will. website and social media thanks the outstanding #HalfwayToyota Howick dealership and its general manager, Maritzburg College Old Boy Brandon Brokensha, for their support. I cannot do this alone. Contact me at for info on the various advertising options and more. #TogetherWeAreOne.


Of the pressures on a young athlete, there is also the age-gap. Often those persons asking the questions or commenting on the responses are considerably older than the person in question (no pun intended). This can also lead to misunderstandings in what the young person being interviewed actually meant.

This Judy Murray passage from her article in this morning’s Telegraph warrants being stated in full:

“When you step into an interview room, there are so many potential pitfalls. If you’ve won, you’re excited and in danger of feeling so relaxed and happy that something slips out and gets you into trouble.

“It’s tougher, though, when you’ve lost. You’re much more likely to become upset or to bristle at a provocative question – and we all know that anger, tears, feuds and gossip make for good stories.

“The whole situation takes me back to when Andy was young and really struggled with the press-conference environment. He wanted to compete in big stadiums in front of huge crowds, not to be asked about whether his shorts were too big, or whether he should get a haircut, have a shave or smile more often.”

Remember, he was still a teenager; he just wanted to win matches. End of.


Jonathan Cook of website and social media thanks Hilton College Old Boy Rory Smith of Absolute Containers for sponsoring these 2 wonderful Powerbanks to ensure that Jono and his smartphone remain fully charged when it really matters!!! A heartfelt thank you, dear Absolute Containers! No wonder you are the trendsetters in customised containers and modular solutions! Take a look


Judy, who has a lot of experience in tennis as a player and coach herself, arranged for the then 19-year-old Andy to undergo a course in media training

“The idea was to help Andy deal with the attention, the adverse comments, and know which subjects to avoid. You’ve got a coach at that age, teaching you how to hit your shots and plan a match strategy, but few young players can afford a PR consultant as well.”

English media professional Jonathan Overend gave the young Andy (then 19) the best advice, whilst sharing a taxi, says Judy.

“Jonathan… made some great suggestions on how to handle press conferences and interviews,” says Judy.

“Speak about your tactics, how the weather was affecting play, and what the momentum switches were. Do the press conference on your terms. It was common sense but a real light-bulb moment.

“If you don’t want to bring emotions into the picture; then you can be more analytical. Instead of saying, ‘I’m upset because I lost’, say ‘I missed a chance at this moment’, or ‘I need to go away and work on such-and-such.’

“The other thing we [Judy and Andy] did was to watch press conferences of players who handle them really well.

“Andy Roddick and Roger Federer were two of them. They were so good at taking an awkward question and turning it around so that they could get their message across. They also used humour brilliantly. Yes, they were older, but that’s the best way to learn. Study those who do it well.”

Judy goes on to say that more attention should be focused on this aspect of the recognition that comes with sporting success.

“Being comfortable and confident in front of a microphone is so important. It’s just not the sort of thing that a young athlete is thinking about when they’re trying to establish themselves…”


I didn’t realise quite how distinguished a career and life Sir Andy Murray’s mom has had. Google “Judy Murray tennis” and you will see in Wikipedia that she has done quite a bit. Judy actually wrote the article. Her piece was prompted by the decision of the world’s highest-paid female athlete, Naomi Osaka of tennis fame, to boycott press conferences. If needs be, Google and you will be up-to-speed with this ongoing saga.

Should schools reward skills or talent?

Seth Godin, who writes an insightful daily blog on anything and everything pertaining to the human condition, has this to say today.
I’d like to know what you think.

Over to Seth: “Talent is something you’re born with. Skill is something you earn.

“Skill comes from commitment and practice and self-discipline. The skill of earning skills is a lifelong advantage.


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“Without a doubt, encouraging boys to leverage their talents is a skill. And yet…

“Who gets to be the playmaker in the boys’ basketball first team – the tall kid? Or the one who practises the most diligently and brings the most teamwork to the game?

“Who gets an ‘A’ in maths – the one who can breeze through the tests or the student who asks intelligent questions and challenges the assumptions?


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“Who gets into a fancy varsity…

“You get the idea.

“Leaders talk about developing real skills and encouraging people to develop into their full potential but – too often – we take the short-term path of betting on raw talent instead.


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“And of course, what looks like raw talent might not be. It could simply be our confusion about first impressions compared to the power of commitment and persistence.”

*A couple of words have been changed to suit the theme.


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The school rankings – a prominent KZN10 coach says…

A well-known coach at a top-end KZN10 school who also has experience overseas, has this to say about the controversial school sport rankings:

“Hi Jono, the ranking system has created an environment in SA school sport that prioritises winning over development, understanding of the game and sportsmanship.

“I have seen coaches at top sports schools in SA actively promoting cheating on subtle levels; as well as refs and umpires manipulating their favoured team’s winning opportunities… and all to be ranked higher.


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“I called a school sports ranking organisation and asked them to explain how they work it out – and it blew my mind.

“It’s based on the previous year’s ranking position for starters! Hogwash!

“Certain coaches in various sports codes at schools in SA will rely on a handful of boys to get the WIN instead of to create a learning environment – in other words, to use winning, losing and the highs and lows to help nurture our young talent to be bigger and better human beings.


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“I could go on and on about how the performance of a team and the successes of the processes and culture put in place far outweigh a coach or a team, a boy, a parent or Old Boy walking around saying, ‘We won!’.

“The real question is not, did you win, it’s did you play well?

“The ranking system is fundamentally damaging to coaching, and the players!”


Success is built on communication.




Ever since their introduction by school sport websites, school sports rankings, especially rugby and cricket but across the board now, have drawn massive interest. And massive criticism.

One schoolboy rugby fan told me:

“Rankings should have no place in the schoolboy game, it’s tantamount to child abuse as it puts huge pressure on the boys, albeit subconsciously one might hope, by their coaches to perform.


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“There is also pressure heaped on the players by their schoolmates, parents and Old Boys, whether it is chiding them for slipping in the rankings or what is a dangerous case of over-inflating fragile teenage egos by lauding them if their team (and, by extension, the boy’s prowess) is placed high on the rankings.

“What is also very very sad is that so many of my rugger mates take these rankings as Gospel truth, yet it’s surely obvious to these guys, who have a great depth of understanding of the sport as well as a passionate love of schoolboy rugger, especially our great KZN rugger schools, that by their very nature, these so-called rankings are flawed from the word go.

“Why do I say this? It’s very simple. You can’t measure teams unless they all play each other home and away in the same year.


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“On top of that, some schools play dozens of matches a year, many of them against weak opposition, which guarantees easy ranking points, while other school first teams play far less matches but against much stronger opposition.

“It’s a bloody farce, yet schools do this on purpose as they use these rankings as massive marketing tools in order to attract the cream of the primary schools’ talent, and with the added carrot of sports scholarships and sports bursaries.

“The sports scholarships and bursaries is another animal that is wrecking the natural balance in our schools.

“Unscrupulous parents even play one school against another in bidding wars so they can squeeze out the biggest amount of tin – and yet again it’s a case of using unsuspecting kids as financial tools for reasons that having nothing to do with the kids’ welfare in the long run.


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“Jono I could go on and on, so one last word from me: These are teenage boys – and I see it’s now rapidly infecting our talented young girls – these boys and girls might have precocious talent but; emotionally their talent doesn’t yet match their fragile self-esteem and self-confidence.


“Yet before you know it these kids are blown up as superstars – and the big crowds in the thousands that come to watch schoolboy rugby in particular, just inflate the supposition that they are going to earn millions as soon as they enter senior sport, but the reality is that that most of them will be playing in front of a man and his dog after school.”


“And what happens? They give up playing and join the varsity pub crowd.

“Jono, I’ve said enough for the moment, and your asking my opinion has put me in a bad mood before my day has even started!

“Seriously, Jono, I’m glad you asked because you’ve given me a platform to vent my frustrations as a father, an Old Boy and a passionate schoolboy sports lover.

“Rankings are a cancer, but how does one get rid of them before they do even more damage?”


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I asked another passionate schoolboy sports lover, who is a high school parent, and probably the most balanced bloke I know, what his thoughts were.

He was in a rush but his carefully considered opinion is one that I respect, and that goes for just about anything and everything.

“Jono, to be very honest I like the ranking system. I could elaborate further when I have some time.”

So, two opposing views.


I’d love to know.



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With Day 1 of Maritzburg College’s 60th annual Oppenheimer Michaelmas Cricket Week just 17 short days away I was clearing out my cupboard and came upon a December 2018 feature I wrote on Mike Bechet, the outstanding SA schoolboy cricket (and hockey) coach. The upshot is that my cupboard is still not cleared up… as I spent the next hour before going to the office reading and reminiscing on a remarkable man I came across for the first time in 1981.

Here are some of the SA School Sports magazine excerpts from that fascinating interview with Bech. Can’t wait to catch up with this legendary Durban-born DHS Old Boy and Jeppe first XI coach in the iconic Kent Pavilion on Goldstones.

Feature image: Mike Bechet with one of his Maritzburg College players who have made it big on the world stage and the SA sports star who inspires him the most – David Miller – pictured here at the SA Cricket Awards Evening in 2016.


Impressive schoolboy cricket coaching credentials of Mike Bechet.


So what does Bech – the longest-serving member of the SA Schools and SA U19 selection panel – look for in a schoolboy cricketer?




Bech, is Gauteng schools cricket stronger?


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‘Our school structures are arguably the best in the world’

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The Mike Bechet you don’t know.


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Bech’s thoughts on the life skills that cricket teaches schoolboys.


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So what is it about schoolboy coaching that drives Bech?




Mike Bechet is director of cricket, head of boarding and a teacher/coach at Jeppe. So Bech, the teacher/coach or professional coach dilemma?


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‘Surround yourself with the right people’ – Mike Bechet


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Mike Bechet pays tribute to his family.


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Four of the best. Guess who played first team cricket too?

Mike Bechet is probably the most successful schoolboy hockey coach in SA history. Here’s Mike with just a few of his Maritzburg College players who went on to play for South Africa (from left) Tommy Hammond, Peabo Lembethe, Taine Paton and Tyson Dlungwana during a 2018 international series at Randburg.


The success of a coach is built on clear communication.

Expert insight into the sports injury-healing  process – Jason Greeff

AS we go into the latter part of the year, it’s perhaps time for KZN10 sportsmen to reflect on what they did well and what they can change.

But during this relative down time, especially for the winter sport aficionados, a degree of conditioning training will be expected – as the cricket, basketball and water polo seasons are already upon us.

Jono Cook feature image: Maritzburg College biokineticist Jason Greeff.

For the rugby, hockey and even the football programmes there will be a cooling off period for most, with rest and rehab thrown into the mix.


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The biggest bugbear of every sports-mad KZN10 schoolboy is injury: the seasons are short, compact and extremely intensive; a few weeks out of action, less-than-ideal rehab and suddenly the rugby (for example) season is done and dusted; and potential has not come close to being realised.

What’s even worse is that for the grade 12s it’s the last time they will ever have the unforgettable opportunity to play KZN10 schoolboy sport – you want to leave school with great sporting memories, not “what-might-have-beens”.

So let’s take a look at what the KZN10 schoolboy sport medical specialists’ views are; general pointers to guide KZN10 schoolboy athletes whatever their primary sports code may be:



A while ago, KZN10 asked Maritzburg College biokineticist Jason Greeff, who works closely with physiotherapist Mike Denton, to enlighten us on some of the processes.

Jono: Jason, you have honours degrees in both biokinetics and sports science, and extensive work experience in elite sport, including KZN10 sport, what has always intrigued me personally is how do the bio and physio work together?

Jason: “Jono basically the difference between a bio and physio is that the physio handles the initial phase of injury, while the bio takes over from the physio so that the athlete can to return to play.


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“Physios handle the acute injury – they deal with chronic injuries as well, but acute being the initial injury once it’s occurred. Physios handle the fibro-blast repair phase, which is the inflammation; they help the muscle heal, the swelling, the initial healing.

“Once the ‘wound’ has healed and there is pain-free range of motion, there will be a handover from the physio to the bio. Those muscles have atrophied; they have become weaker because they haven’t been used.

“So the biokineticist’s job is to strengthen those muscles to make sure that (a) the injury doesn’t re-occur and (b) also to get the player up-to-speed with his fitness so that he can get back into the match arena.”



Jason certainly knows his stuff, having completed his internship at the Sharks under the guidance of the legendary Jimmy Wright, a man with 30-plus years’ experience in the field in dealing with professional athletes.

Jason: “Yes, Jono, from Jimmy I learnt so much; every time I sat with Jimmy there was something new to take away. I was privileged in having that exposure at such a high level and it laid the foundation for my working with schoolboy teams.”

An interesting aside is that Jason is a big fan of athletics; the sports code being a vital component in the physical development of athletes no matter their sports code of choice, that is, their sports code that involves running as a specific skill in the sport.


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Jason: “Jono, in many sports codes it’s essentially all about the mechanics of running. And that is where the sport of athletics comes in.

“From a young  age, most [KZN10] boys haven’t been taught how to run efficiently, so from a bio-mechanical point of view more emphasis on athletics in the first school term would definitely aid speedwork, fitness and injury prevention, while the benefits of cross-over training into, for example, the rugby, hockey and soccer seasons, to name but three, will go a long way towards minimising needless injuries.”

Jono: Thanks Jason, certainly much food for thought, and in your employers’ case, Maritzburg College is perfectly placed to take advantage of this insight now that an internationally accredited athletics stadium lies literally a hop, step and jump from the school precinct in Princess Margaret Drive.



Roll on the rest of 2019 – and, of course, a bright new start with the year 2020 not far away. can barely wait.


Clear communication is the key to success.

Dick Muir & Powerade Performance Academy mentors wow KZN high school coaches

The 6th Powerade Performance Academy kicked off in Durban last week. It is an annual seminar held in major cities nationwide to empower local coaches.

It saw coaches from around KwaZulu-Natal listen to expert performance coaches as part of an interactive session of empowering and enriching lessons for school coaches.

Powerade has aimed much of its focus on high school coaches in recognition of their role as primary influencers of the next generation of South Africa’s sporting heroes.


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Dick Muir, Simphiwe Dludlu, John McGrath and Sizwe Ndlovu took the coaches through critical aspects of coaching, on and off the field of play, at the KZN Academy.

Dick Muir, former Springbok rugby player, ex-Springbok and Sharks coach and managing director of the Investec International Rugby Academy SA, spoke about why he is part of the Powerade Academy.



“The biggest thing for me is sharing knowledge with the coaches, making them believe there is no such thing as a bad coach, just an ill-informed coach.” he said.

“It’s important to invest in coaches because, through them, we are investing in our youth. Developing the knowledge of coaches is important in preparing kids at a young age.” Muir concluded.


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Simphiwe Dludlu, SA U17 women’s soccer coach, reflected on the team’s 2019 U17 Women’s World Cup experience. She inspired the coaches to build character in their teams.



“I find it amazing that we expect players to perform in a certain way when we do not really know their characters and what they are mentally capable of.

“Everyone is born with a certain character; we need to understand the building blocks of character and how to influence a person’s character for the better.” she said.


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Sizwe Ndlovu, 2012 Olympic Games gold medalist, spoke about what he called the new low.

“It is important for people – and coaches more especially – to understand that when they reach a milestone, instead of saying that this is the highest they can reach, rather should look at the milestone and say this is my ‘new low’ and I need to do better than this’.”



Ndlovu continued narrating to the coaches about his journey as an athlete, facing setbacks but never giving up. He further explained how the concept of a new low helped him to surpass his goals.

John McGrath, a former strongman who is now a high-performance business coach, tackled the mental side of preparing sportsmen and women.

“In shifting paradigms it is about abandoning preconceived ideas that people have about their abilities and about what is perceived to be a boundary (to progress),” he said.



McGrath illustrated practical examples of breaking boundaries by bending nails, breaking chains, tearing packs of cards and straightening a horseshoe.

“These are all metaphors for what you can do and what is possible. I don’t expect all of the coaches to start bending nails, but the coaches at the Powerade Performance Academy are there to learn how to make breakthroughs.

“At Powerade Performance Academy you have coaches that have performed at a world-class level and they are talking to coaches from all over South Africa – and that is a price worth paying,” he said.


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Coaching continues to be an ever-transforming discipline that incorporates innovative techniques and principles to improve performance.

The Powerade Performance Academy’s featured coaches, through their in-depth knowledge, afforded the attendees – the coaches from the various KZN schools and sporting codes – the opportunity to go back to their respective schools in the spirit of “teach one, teach all”.

To connect sports coaches across the country, Powerade has also introduced a Powerade Facebook Community called the Coaches Corner, where coaches can interact and share their daily challenges and achievements with their peers.


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The next legs of the Powerade Performance Academies will take place in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

For more information, visit Powerade Facebook page (@PoweradeZA) and #AlwaysForward.


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More about the Powerade Performance Academy speakers

Dick Muir: Former Springbok rugby player, ex-Springbok and Sharks coach, and managing director of the Investec International Rugby Academy SA.

Topic: Creating your own coaching and playing philosophies

Simphiwe Dludlu: Former Banyana Banyana captain, former Tuks women’s coach, SA U17 women’s team head coach, and founder and chairman of The Simphiwe Dludlu Foundation.

Topic: Character carries her


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John McGrath: Luvo Manyonga’s high performance coach, world-renowned high-performance coach and last Strongman of Africa; motivational speaker and performance artist.

Topic: Shifting sports paradigms

Sizwe Ndlovu: 2012 Olympic Games gold medallist; manager and coach of rowing at University of Johannesburg, and inspirational speaker.

Topic: The New Low


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