Zim Rugby pays tribute to legend McIntosh

The late Ian McIntosh

ZIMBABWE Rugby Union president Aaron Jani has described the late former Sables and South Africa Springbok coach Ian McIntosh, who passed away in South Africa yesterday, as a passionate student of the game who had an undying passion for the development of rugby in the country.

The widely-respected Ian McIntosh — a man credited for revolutionising Zimbabwean rugby passed away yesterday morning at the age of 84 after battling cancer.

Born in Bulawayo on September 24, 1938, McIntosh was a rugby pioneer during a coaching career spanning decades that started in the country of his birth, and continued in South Africa, where he was held in high esteem.

Jani, who had the privilege of working with the legendary McIntosh from his playing days and later when he ventured into rugby administration, described the revered coach as a long time benefactor of Zimbabwe rugby.

“This is a very sad development and our sincere condolences to Ian’s family. For us as the Zimbabwe Rugby Union Ian was a student of the game and he did a lot to support Zimbabwe when he was in South Africa at the peak of his career as a coach,” Jani said in an interview with NewsDay Sport.

“He was a very big supporter of Zimbabwe rugby, he really loved Zimbabwe and he did all he could during his coaching career to assist Zimbabwe to get that bit of an edge over their competition.

“Even after moving to South Africa, he would come to Zimbabwe whenever he was asked to come through to assist the national team in terms of coaching. If you think of someone like Adrian Garvey, his career wouldn’t have blossomed the way it did without Ian McIntosh, he is the one who did a lot of heavy lifting and facilitation for Adrian Garvey to go to South Africa.”

Jani said McIntosh left an indelible mark on the local rugby landscape, as he did all he could to assist local rugby even after moving to South Africa.”

“I remember the days when we were playing in South Africa’s domestic competition, Mac as we called him was already in South Africa coaching in the Currie Cup, but he would always make himself available to coach us, give us pointers and spend a lot of time with us as Zimbabweans and so those are very vivid memories of those interactions with Mac.

“He also had very close ties with Old Miltonians, a club that I belonged to and he organised a lot of fixtures for the club. We found ourselves going on tour to Durban every year for about eight or nine seasons and this was all through Ian McIntosh. He had a lot of contacts and would organise a lot of things to make our lives a lot easier whenever we arrived in Durban.

“For me as an individual I had a lot of interactions with him at a very early age and it’s very sad to hear about his demise,” said Jani, who is also part of the Rugby Africa executive board.

An injury very early in his career saw McIntosh never representing Zimbabwe again at international level, but he soon branched into coaching where he made his biggest impact. He became acquainted with coaching in the 1970s under the tutelage of the then Welsh Rugby Union coaching director Ray Williams.

He later took charge of the Zimbabwe rugby team for seven years, before moving to South Africa, where he became a national figure after Natal won their first Currie Cup in 1990, in their centenary year.

He won three more Currie Cup titles as coach of the Natal (1992, 1995 and 1996) and he also took the Sharks to their first Super 12 final in 1996, but they lost to the Blues.

In 1993 and 1994, McIntosh coached the Springboks in 12 Tests and until last year’s victory, his 1993 Springboks team was the last from South Africa to beat the Wallabies in Sydney.

After his coaching days came to an end, McIntosh was a Springbok selector for 13 years, providing mentorship and advice to a number of national coaches on junior and senior level, and he was involved in the game through the South African Rugby Legends Association.

In 2013, he was presented with World Rugby’s Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service, recognising his achievement in changing the face of rugby in southern Africa.

McIntosh is survived by Rhona, his wife of almost 60 years, and their three sons, Ross, Craig and Evan.


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