SCHOOLCHILDREN in the Queenstown area received a treat when they were given a coaching clinic by Springbok rugby players last week.
Springboks Francois Hougaard, Flip van der Merwe, Jan Serfontein and Bjorn Basson coached more than 170 schoolboys and 50 school and club coaches during a coaching session in the town.
The national players gave back some of their knowledge to the local rugby community on day two of an SA Rugby Union (Saru) high-performance coaching symposium.
They were assisted in lively sessions by Springbok assistant coaches Johann van Graan, Ricardo Loubscher and John McFarland.
The Springboks demonstrated to the local coaches how to master the basic techniques in areas such as tackling, scrumming, lineout play and the breakdown.
It was the second visit to the Eastern Cape by the Springboks as part of the Footprint Programme which Saru and the Eastern Cape Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture launched in July in Mthatha.
Through the programme, Saru aims to deliver the latest rugby coaching techniques and skills to all corners of the country.
The provincial Sports Department is also assisting Saru to prepare the Springbok women’s sevens squad to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.
This assistance includes scientific support, fitness and conditioning training.
Saru general high performance manager Rassie Erasmus got the two-day symposium under way when he addressed the local schools and club coaches on the proper tackling and breakdown techniques.
During the practical session on Thursday, the Springbok players and coaching staff demonstrated those techniques to pupils and coaches at a community field.
An intrigued crowd followed every move on the field.
Lock Van der Merwe said after the programme he and his teammates enjoyed the session as much as the schoolboys and the coaches.
“This is a great initiative and it is wonderful to see the eagerness to learn among the kids and their coaches to learn,” Van der Merwe said. “We seldom get the chance to visit areas such as Queenstown and the reception we got from the local community and kids was amazing.”