GREY High gave coach Rory Duncan a fitting send-off when they went through their five-match rugby tour of the United Kingdom this month unbeaten.
The school, the top rugby side in the Eastern Cape this year, will be looking for a new coach for next year after former provincial player Duncan accepted a job with the Free State Rugby Union, where he will coach the under-21 and Vodacom Cup teams, as well as taking up a post as head of rugby.
Duncan was the first professional coach appointed by Grey and said it was not his original intention to spend only two years in the post.
“The plan was to stay at Grey for about four to five years and then possibly make a move, but this opportunity presented itself a few weeks ago and I felt I could not turn it down,” the former Grey pupil, 36, said.
He emphasised that it had been a difficult decision to make as he had enjoyed his time as Grey coach.
“The whole experience was fantastic and there wasn’t a day I went to work when I did not feel like being there,” Duncan said.
“From a learning point of view, I realised how – as opposed to playing, where you worry only about your own game – a coach has to manage the 15 players on the field plus those on the bench.
“I think the important things are to have the correct structures in place and to make sure your recruitment plans are organised. Grey have an exciting bunch of players coming through and should have a good season next year.”
The school authorities are scheduled to meet this week to discuss the way forward and Duncan said, subject to their priorities, it was essential to have a full-time coach for the rugby programme.
“I have seen how hard teachers have to work at their jobs and I believe it is vitally important to have someone who can focus his attention solely on rugby and all that goes with it,” he said.
Two highlights of Grey’s UK tour were their victories over the highly rated Millfield (37-35) and Welsh powerhouse Monmouth (21-15).
Even though the touring party was relatively young, comprising mostly under-16 and u-17 players, they confirmed their potential with a series of fine performances.
The presence of Millfield’s full- strength u-18 side made for an uncompromising encounter with the tourists, with the lead changing hands constantly. Eventually, a penalty by Curwin Bosch made the difference.
Grey ended their tour with a tough game played against Monmouth, a school which turns 400 next year. Captain Johann van Niekerk limped off after a minute and Monmouth ended up scoring three tries, but Grey were up to the task, scoring three converted tries to keep their unbeaten record intact.
In their other matches, Grey defeated Abingdon 61-5, Plymouth College 33-0 and a regional u-17 team organised by the London Irish club 36-10.