Coaching role for James

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content on 14 Nov 2013 at 17:54
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Butch James has been announced as the backline and kicking coach for the UKZN Impi Varsity Shield side, working alongside new Director of Rugby John Mitchell for the duration of the campaign.

James, who’s “Maritzburra” through and through, has just retired from the game, having played a somewhat limited role in the Sharks’ successful 2013 Currie Cup campaign and looks set to make his way into coaching alongside Mitchell, for whom he played while at the Lions.

Other names brought in are a pair of school coaches in Michaelhouse’s Ryno Combrinck (forwards) and Maritzburg College’s Ryan Strudwick (restarts). Strudwick was head coach of both College Rovers and the Sharks under 19 side before taking up the Director of Rugby post at College.


  • Are the Sharks involved in this in any way? Perhaps subsidizing the salaries of Mitchell and James to aid rugby development in the province? Great move.

  • Comment 1, posted at 14.11.13 18:49:50 by MerckZ Reply
  • @MerckZ (Comment 1) : might well be the case.will be great for the sharks if a local uni can get into the varsity premier comp.

  • Comment 2, posted at 14.11.13 18:57:04 by 50shadesofblackandwhite Reply
  • Natal needs a strong university side.

  • Comment 3, posted at 14.11.13 19:09:52 by VinChainSaw Reply
  • @VinChainSaw (Comment 3) : damn right

  • Comment 4, posted at 14.11.13 19:39:05 by robdylan Reply
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  • Nice (as long as he’s not their defence coach) 😎

  • Comment 5, posted at 14.11.13 20:40:04 by vanmartin Reply
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  • My daughter is playing for UKZN women’s team. They’ve attracted big sponsorships and limited bursaries are available for the top players. The girls are really excited about John Mitchell although he hadnt started as end of 2013 season yet.Been to a game and they are really stepping up with intensity – they took no prisoners!!

  • Comment 6, posted at 14.11.13 21:12:08 by Caratacus Reply

  • Reading between the lines and picking up snippets here and there I get more and more the impression that the Impi and the Academy will be working together – to a degree at least, with support from the KZNRU.

  • Comment 7, posted at 14.11.13 21:31:10 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • Yeah man!……even the kings got a team in the varsitycup….nmmu and did very well this year!

  • Comment 8, posted at 14.11.13 21:36:01 by KingsArmy Reply

  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 7) : Impi and Academy cant work together as the Academy has a relationship with Varsity College and receive more money in the form of bursaries from Varsity College than UKZN could ever offer. Havign a great coaching team is one thing…but if you dont have the players you cant coach anything. UKZN ended near the bottom of the Premier League this year

  • Comment 9, posted at 15.11.13 07:46:15 by SheldonK Reply

  • Great news.

  • Comment 10, posted at 15.11.13 08:16:17 by Son Of Mayhem Reply
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  • I’m sure there will be more involvement between KZNRU, UKZN, the Academy and local clubs than was the case in the previous regime.

  • Comment 11, posted at 15.11.13 08:25:46 by KingRiaan Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 9) : Ive heard that before but I also read somewhere where direct reference to that is made. Time will tell. If the Sharks can change kit and stadium sponsors Im sure they can find away of having some students at another varsity other than at Varsity College.

  • Comment 12, posted at 15.11.13 10:40:55 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 12) : Varsity College and UKZN are direct competition so I cannot see either 1 being happy bout it. UKZN is so badly managed that i dont know if i would be happy bout the Sharks or anyone throwing money at it. The Varsity Cup is such a farce though as the teams at the top are basically Vodacom Cup sides and the guys never see the inside of a lecture halll.

  • Comment 13, posted at 15.11.13 11:03:31 by SheldonK Reply

  • Eish what a combo,this is masterclass stuff,makes no sense to me,this combo is SR trophy winning material,not messing about in the backwaters of Durban,won’t last,serious men with serious money are going to come knocking

  • Comment 14, posted at 15.11.13 13:02:13 by benji Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 13) : and as a Varsity College player, you’re completely unbiased? 🙂

  • Comment 15, posted at 15.11.13 13:16:44 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 15) : Not much to be biased about Rob, i went to UKZN. But fact is there is a lot of mismanagement there. The Academy and Varsity College already has a business relationship. And UKZN are nowhere in the Premier League. So yes fantastic if Mitchell and co are going to stick around for the league and next year, but if they only there for Varsity Cup comp then how much value is it really?

  • Comment 16, posted at 15.11.13 13:33:40 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 16) : if they get UKZN into the Varsity Cup, then that attracts more top players to the Sharks and gives them a proper competition (with TV exposure) to play in.

    Who cares about the league?

  • Comment 17, posted at 15.11.13 13:50:44 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 17) : They arent going to get UKZN into Varsity Cup with a short term fix unless they sign a brand new team. And if the coaches dont stick around for league then neither will the new team so they will be back to square 1 again. If they want to make a difference then they need to stick around and build a team through the Varsity Shield and then the league so that following year they can look to perhaps challenge for the title and not the wooden spoon as they have last couple of years.

  • Comment 18, posted at 15.11.13 14:11:05 by SheldonK Reply

  • From the Sharks website, (clubs section) I gathered that John Smit was guest of honour at the UKZN’s dinner and awards evening. This alone indicating (even if very small) some form of good relations between the 2 institutions.

    Further on in the same article it reports “Mitchell also made mention of player recruitment, which he said was going well. “We have a very good existing core of players who were put through a strength testing programme last weekend. Then we have had support from the Sharks family; there are Academy, U21 and senior players who wish to further their studies at UKZN.”

    There was also a report in The Times about the UKZN Impi that gave the impression of something happening behind the scenes.

    All small indicators, but to me anyway, they point to something happening to the extent that the KZNRU is in some way involved.

    I remember when it was announced that Mitchell was going to coach the Impi that my immediate reasoning was that there was much more to his appointment than just him being appointed as their coach.

    Time will tell.

  • Comment 19, posted at 15.11.13 14:34:45 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • guys varsity cup is huge, it just depends which uni you’re at. I’m at Stellenbosch and unlike the Bulls/tuks. Our players are fulltime students. Renier Hugo is in my res swotting like ‘n beast whenever he has no rugby commmitments. And the guys get shipped to WP as the next stage. Look at Catrikalis. it would be nice to have that though at Kzn, from varsity cup to sharks academy and from their to the big guns! Easier said then done though. I agree that UKZN is terribly managed tho.

  • Comment 20, posted at 16.11.13 12:34:43 by Eli Reply

  • Its simple. If UKZN get promoted to the Varsity Cup, it will not only benefit Sharks juniors in terms of exposure, but there will no longer be a need for the Varsity College association. Players can attend part-time lectures at UKZN and pay half the fees. Exclusion from the Varsity Cup has been a massive hindrance to the Sharks and its about time this is sorted.

  • Comment 21, posted at 17.11.13 11:52:08 by disgruntled shark Reply

  • Feel a real sense of excitement about what is happening at ukzn.will be great for the sharks.

  • Comment 22, posted at 18.11.13 11:59:30 by 50shadesofblackandwhite Reply

  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 19) :
    Just a shame the mitchell appointment wasnt made prior to the craven week.but im really looking fwd to next season’s varsity cup.

  • Comment 23, posted at 18.11.13 16:51:22 by 50shadesofblackandwhite Reply


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