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A week in the life of a Rugby Coach

So often I get asked, “Mitch – outside of Rugby practice what exactly do you do with your time?” If you caught my tweet…….”Cadence I miss you” – that might give you an idea of my week last week so I decided to use that as the basis of today’s post.


This is what a week in the life of a Rugby Coach, presenter, speaker, husband, MTB rider and book writer looks like………….

In the run up to the UKZN vs UWC game last week, our Sunday morning started with the Captain’s run at Howard College before we boarded our 11am flight to Cape Town. It was a very humid morning with the boys running their plays and practicing their structures for a small period of time. A coffee and fruit salad from Fego has become a regular for me making for a quick breakfast on the run. On the plane, I sat next to Mikyle and Shayne and was lucky enough to get the exit seat  – much needed when you’ve got legs as long as mine! 2.5 hours later and we were heading to the Garden Court  hotel in Woodstock on a very warm humid day for Cape Town. We then had a couple hours to relax before a 6.30pm meeting where we split the team into mini units working on what they would be responsible for. Our team dinner was followed by a meet up with Simon Hurry where we spent some time analysing and discussing the mental strengths of our individual players.


Monday morning and  I was up at 5.15am; headed off to Virgin Active for a spin and gym workout then back for brekkie with the team where we ran through the  build up for the UWC Varsity Shield game. Game day is all about keeping the teams emotions in check before the game. I had a series of business meetings booked in before lunch and then at 3pm joined the boys for  the pre- game meal. We had former UKZN rugby and cricket stalwart Chris Marais join us to present the Jersey’s to the players. He was extremely positive in his address and was well received by the players. Another crucial time is when the players gear up – applying their strapping to various parts of their bodies…even though it is preventative and fairly routine it’s also a crucial part of the mental preparation.  At 5 pm we boarded the bus and headed out to the Belville UWC campus. Typically, I like to have the team in the changing room with plenty of time to spare. For me – it’s a final message to the boys before I head off to take my seat on the sideline. In Varsity Shield we play 20 minute chuckers and get a 2 min strategy break. Half time with youngsters and inexperienced teams means there can be a lot of hype and emotion so I chose to calm everyone down and focus on next moment and what we needed to stick to for the final chucker. There’s no doubting we deserved to win. The game was followed by a meal with UWC where we exchanged speeches between Captains & Coaches before heading back to the team hotel for a few nice cold Millers.


Tuesday – Ouch, up at 4.15am to head to the airport. Boarded the red eye flight back to Durbs sleeping through take off and waking  only when the wheels hit the tarmac. It’s always awesome to be met by my wife Jules who had a hot skinny cappuccino waiting for me.  From the airport I headed off to meet with Gavin Rich – the writer of my book but to be honest, I was feeling both weary and a little brain dead. That said – he was in brilliant form asking me endless great questions – even I am looking forward to the end result of this little project! Tuesday was recovery day for the boys although I did manage to squeeze in a spin class at La Lucia Virgin Active – You can bet on the fact that I slept well that night!


Wednesday was another 4.15am rise as I  headed to JHB on the red eye flight this time. I was invited to speak for Elvey Security and Technologies at the Wanderers on behalf of Big Sport. I was greeted by Sean from Elvey’s who kept me very entertained as we cut through the traffic to Corlet Drive making our way to Wanderers. I was speaking at 11am and as soon as I finished my speech at 12pm it was back to the airport to catch another flight. Back home, it was time for some admin catch up and then early to bed but not before a quick catch up with my lovely other half. Jules is a saint – how she puts up with my schedule, even I don’t know!


On Thursday – just for good measure – I was heading off on yet another flight to JHB for a Boots and All pre-record.  My flight was scheduled for 1pm as we have to be in studio for 3.30pm and on air at 5.30pm. Before departure I had to organize the coaching group for IMPI’s training week where Ryno, Ryan, Butch, and Dylan have been doing a fabulous job. I also managed to squeeze in a Cadence session where I  got drilled by coach Anne. I love those work outs – it’s my opportunity to switch off and to clear my mind. I always find it amusing that I have to go to makeup before filming….. not for the wrinkles -  but rather for my shiny ball – makeup stops the reflection!! On set we are quickly back into the fray – its  always a good laugh on our show with Xola, Kaunda, Elma. Seriously – but who would choose to be a producer? Erin – I empathise with you! After filming it was off to the Southern Sun Hyde park for a meal and  bed as I was scheduled for an early wake up call at 6am for a practice run before the Crusaders v Chiefs game.


Whew – the week is almost done – Friday – back up at 5.15 am to meet  Breyton Paulse and we head to the studio in Randburg…school boy error saw me leaving behind my Super Sport entry card and passport…oh well next time!!  Crusaders vs Chiefs proved to be a typical round one game punctuated by poor execution and timing.  Chiefs held tough and were very fortunate the Crusader goal kickers missed 21 points worth of kicks. As soon as this game was off air I had to head to Monument high School in Krugers Dorp  to run a session that focused on how to build an attacking framework. Unfortunately I did not even have time to get out of my suit – then it was back to Randburg to beat the traffic for our next game call: Cheetahs vs Bulls. The less I say about that game the better. We finished up at 9.30pm when it was back to the hotel room to check-in online for Saturdays home bound flight. Online check-in not working…….thanks for that #Mango!


Saturday morning – Hooray- time to head home…up at 5.15am off to OR Tambo and flew back to Durban in time for a friends 50th ( yes I do manage to have some semblance of a social life) but before that it was a quick hello to Jules and then another couple of hours with Gavin Rich on the book. We are now up to 2002 when I was with the All Blacks! Only another 12 years to get through – eeeish! At 11 pm I was seriously done and dusted giving Jules the eye that signalled its time to go home. I can honestly say I was shattered – so much so that  I even cancelled my 5am MTBike ride!!!


Sunday – not quite done yet but almost… I managed to have a little sleep-in (proving to be a real luxury these days) then headed down to gym for an excellent session. Sunday mid-morning was spent preparing specific game plan sheets for the players and then I headed to PMB for our captains run at 3pm. Whilst I didn’t enjoy missing the Sunday church service, I loved the chickens on the Weber for dinner – and seeing the Proteas demolish the Aussies made my day.

And today it starts over again……. Today is game day. Got my ride in though…….

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