The success of a sporting franchise rests on many pillars, but one very important facet that drives success is not what happens at the coalface, but the underlying structures that feed it.
While the focus is often on the make-up of the senior team and its players and coaching staff, a top-down structure should also be matched by a bottom-up approach that identifies, nurtures and develops talent from within.
The Sharks believe that it is crucially important for there to be alignment between all coaches within the system and have appointed coaches of high quality to lead the junior structures.
The calibre of junior coaching talent ensures the alignment of a coaching vision from junior to senior level, such that young players are able to move up age groups and into the senior squad seamlessly as their rugby careers progress.
To this end, there has been a change within The Sharks Academy coaching structure, which has been necessitated by the departure of Dick Muir, who has taken up a position with the Russian national side as Head Coach.
His coaching responsibilities at the Academy will now be fulfilled by another former Sharks player and high respected coach, in the very experienced Hugh Reece-Edwards.
The Sharks Academy consultant Hugh Reece-Edwards will also assist the 2022 Cell C Sharks junior coaches, Mike Vowles and MB Lusaseni.
Meanwhile, the alignment between junior and senior coaching structures will be further aided by the involvement of Cell C Sharks specialist coaches Aksventi Giorgodze (scrums), Phiwe Nomlomo (skills) and Warren Whiteley (lineouts and defence).
The trio will also conduct regular interventions to ensure The Sharks’ playing identity is installed from junior level to ensure smooth transitions between the various competition playing groups when required.
The 2022 season promises to deliver enormous value, entertainment and rugby action across a broad spectrum of franchise competitions, including the SA Rugby Under 20 competition, the Carling Currie Cup and the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.
Given the roles, responsibilities and demands of senior players who will also spend time preparing for and participating in international rugby matches, the window of opportunity for many younger players opens up and the alignment of coaching structures provides the pipeline necessary to integrate these new players into the senior system.