The history behind the Investec International Rugby Academy

Jul 20 • General News, International, Junior Rugby, National • 3951 Views • Comments Off on The history behind the Investec International Rugby Academy

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After the dramatic 2007 Super 14  rugby final between the Sharks and Vodacom Bulls, the then Sharks coach Dick Muir was invited to attend an International Rugby course hosted in New Zealand by Murray Mexted to share his knowledge and vision with other top coaches on the global game moving forward. Thus began his journey to the International Rugby Academy New Zealand (IRANZ) and the subsequent launch of the franchise in South Africa.


After guiding his team to the top of the log finish in Super 14 in 2007 and to the final, where they suffered an agonisingly narrow 20-19 defeat, Dick Muir set himself a new challenge. Having attended the International Rugby Academy in New Zealand the former Sharks player and coach was able to share his knowledge and in turn learn from rugby’s greats. Having attended the IRA, Muir realised that the platform to share and exchange knowledge was one that was much needed in South Africa and thus began the process to establish a South African based academy. He and Murray Mexted franchised the blueprint of all that IRANZ had built over the last decade and then developed a coaching manual and business model Investec shared the vision of being part of South Africa’s first High Performance Rugby Academy and they entered into an agreement to become the naming rights sponsor of the Investec International Rugby Academy in 2009.

Muir’s aim was to create a platform for players and coaches to learn from specialists in the fields of rugby, technology, sports medicine and mental toughness which would inevitably lead to improvements in their game both as a coach and a player. The first course took place at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria and proved to be an instant hit among the attendees including the likes of Sean Fitzpatrick, Frans Ludeke, Nick Farr-Jones, Breyton Paulse, Gary Gold and Murray Mexted. Not only did the coaches share their knowledge and experiences, but 16 of the 26 players in attendance, went on to feature for their respective clubs in the 2009 Absa Currie Cup competition.

Former Springbok loosehead prop Os du Randt said information sharing initiatives in rugby were non-existent prior to the introduction of IIRA,

“This creates a great platform for former players to pass on their experiences and knowledge to coaches and players.”

Using the blueprint of its franchisor, the Investec International Rugby Academy has carefully designed each of its courses for the level of coaching needed at specific levels. As the game constantly evolves, the academy team engages the services of current franchise and national coaches John Plumtree (Sharks), Johan Ackermann (Lions), Louis Koen (Springboks) and Pieter de Villiers (Springboks prop coach) amongst many other who provide detailed information about rugby techniques and trends, sports medicine research, technology and sports psychology.

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