The graduates completed an intensive 18-month programme of learning, mentoring, practical sessions and testing. Seven of the original 18 entrants fell by the wayside during the challenging process.

Rassie Erasmus, the SA Rugby Director of Rugby, joined the ceremony virtually from a Springbok conditioning camp to the congratulate the graduates on their success.

“It’s not just a piece of paper that you have earned, it’s a tangible reward for a lot of hard work and effort,” he said. “You have had a chance to enhance your skills in a way that most other coaches did not have. Although SARU can’t make promises, we will look at you first when there are opportunities.”

Mr Mark Alexander, president of the South African Rugby Union, congratulated the graduates on their achievement at concluding a course that was custom-made to support the organisation’s transformation imperatives.

“Rugby can’t survive without coaches and if we are going to ensure that South Africa remains in the top echelons of the global game, we will need world-class coaches to work with our professional player corps,” said Mr Alexander.

“We understand they operate in a highly competitive environment and that there are perhaps only 20 high-profile head coaching roles in the country, but this will put them in a stronger position going forward and we look forward to seeing how their careers will unfold."

Hilton Adonis, the SA Rugby Manager: Coaching Education, said the objective of the programme was to create a pool of elite high-performance (HP) coaches equipped to successfully navigate the demands of the HP coaching environment, with focus areas including personal mastery, leadership development and change management.

“The programme was developed with coaches and academics to build the capacity of the coaches and included coaching philosophy, diversity management, dealing with the media, stakeholder relationship and strategic planning,” said Adonis. “The programme concluded with a professional review by a peer coaching council.

Mr Alexander thanked the Department of Sports, Arts & Culture (DSAC) for their support of the programme: “We have to give a massive thank you to the DSAC for funding the Elite Coaches Programme from the outset,” he said. “The support we have received from DSAC was invaluable in empowering our coaches and driving positive change. We are deeply grateful for the partnership and dedication to nurturing talent and transformation within rugby and we look forward to continuing this journey together.”

The graduates were:

  • Etienne Fynn (Cell C Sharks)
  • David Manuel (Eastern Province)
  • Norman Jordaan (DHL Western Province)
  • Phiwe Nomlomo (Cell C Sharks)
  • Jonathan Mokuena (Lions)
  • Wilbur Kraak (DHL Western Province)
  • Joey Mongalo (Cell C Sharks)
  • Jason Oliphant (Cell C Sharks)
  • Hanyani Shimange (DHL Western Province)
  • Franzel September (Boland)
  • Labeeb Levy (DHL Western Province)