The selection and participation of five rugby players currently competing in the IRB Junior World Championships in Cape Town pays testiment to the successes of the Investec International Rugby Academy (IIRA). South Africans Braam Steyn, Tony Jantjies and Patrick Howard along with international players Tommie Allan (Scotland) and Oliver Hoskins (Australia) attended the 2011 IIRA elite courses. It was here that the talented youngsters were mentored on various aspects of their game by rugby legends Murray Mexted, Braam van Straaten, Dick Muir, Ruan Pienaar, Hugh Reece-Edwards and current Springbok prop coach Pieter de Villiers.
South Africa booked their place in the IRB World Junior Championships semi-final, which will take place on Sunday, 17th. June This came after beating England 28 – 15, a match that kicked off on a disappointing note when Jantjies was ruled out due to injury. With just two games under his belt at the Champs, Jantjies has already scored 16 points for the Baby Boks and features 9th on the points scorers list.
The younger brother of Lions and Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies, flyhalf Tony was coached at the IIRA by former Springbok and current Australian kicking coach Braam van Straaten who had a glowing report of his former student.
“I am really impressed with Tony because he has a very good, compact kicking technique that will hold him in good stead when kicking under pressure. His approach angle is near perfect and he keeps his posture and a good body lean throughout the approach. He has a promising career ahead.”
Sharks loose forward Braam Steyn and DHL Stormers Patrick Howard each scored tries in South Africa’s 52- 3 demolition of Italy on 8th June. Legendary All Blacks number eight Murray Mexted was delighted to see his former student, Steyn making great strides on the international stage.
“Braam has made great progress since we first saw him at our Elite High Performance Course. At that stage Braam was a standby lock for his first XV but it was clear that he possessed the skills required to play the number eight position. He had a lot of work to do, particularly with regards to combining with the other loose forwards and hunting down the breakdown area and it’s obvious he has done all the hard work, implemented the knowledge gained at the course and his progress has justly been rewarded with his selection. I wish him well in the future and look forward to following his career.
Winger Patrick Howard was coached by former Springbok assistant coach and former Sharks head coach, Dick Muir as well as former Springboks and Western Province winger Breyton Paulse during his time at the IIRA Elite course. Muir, who also serves as the IIRASA Course Facilitator, works with the players to improve their athletic skills in a wide range of theoretical and physical tasks that range from development and mastery of skills to the more specialized aspects of the sport.
“Through the attendance of our Elite courses, players learn about physical, technical, tactical and psychological preparation in an engaging environment that encourages development and performance at the highest levels. Patrick was open to improving his skills and athletic performance and it’s obvious that he has applied the information gained during the course to his game. Having watched Patrick as well as the other youngsters who have attended our courses competing at the Junior World Championships, I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve seen thus far and am pleased that the successes of our Academy are reflected on the field of play.”
Tommie Allan, nephew of former Springbok and Scottish prop John Allen, was mentored by Springbok Ruan Pienaar and Sharks backline coach Hugh Reece-Edwards three years ago. Scotland will face off with Italy on June 17th in the ninth place semi-final.
As one of the youngest players at the 2009 Investec International Rugby Academy at Michaelhouse, Allan was able to test his skills against older and more established players.
“The Course was a real eye opener because I got to see first-hand exactly what was needed to become a professional rugby player as well as the dedication and hard work that goes with it. The Academy provided invaluable experience not only because that was the very first time I actually played against players older than me but, also because I was mentored by Ruan Pienaar. Through the completion of the course, I learnt about having the right attitude, determination to succeed and that hard work will pay off in time. Having spent time with Ruan, I learnt how to become a better kicker and I’m truly grateful for those experiences which have shaped my success and career in international rugby.”
Australia’s Oliver Hoskins, expected to feature in Saturday’s fifth place semi-final against France, described his time at the IIRA as one of the best rugby experiences he’s ever had. Hoskins, whose positional coach was current Springbok scrumming coach Pieter de Villiers, attributes his selection in the Australian team to the IIRASA.
“I learnt a new style of South African rugby that I’d never experienced before and I have no doubt that my progress and development as a player and my subsequent selection in the national team is a direct result of my experiences at the Elite Players course at Hilton College last December.”
The Academy consists of two levels, namely High Performance and Advanced courses for players and coaches. The one-week Advanced Players and Coaches courses kick off at Northwood High on Sunday, 24th June. The High Performance Elite Players Course also starts on 24th June and is scheduled to finish on 7th July, the same date as the conclusion of the High Performance Elite Coaches Course.
Highly acclaimed former rugby stars from New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and England including the likes of Dick Muir, John Allan, David Campese, Ian Macdonald, Brent Russel, Louis Koen, Braam van Straaten, Corne Krige and Gary Teichmann will be on hand to offer their expertise and advice during the two-week course.
The Investec International Rugby Academy SA will hold the Elite Players Course, Advanced Players Course and the Elite Coaches Course at Northwood High School for Boys in Durban later this month.