It has been an exceptional year so far of championship-winning rugby for Lwazi Zangqa who will go on to lead the Border U18 Craven Week side as head coach from July 3-8.
Zangqa who is the head of rugby at Hudson Park and head coach of East London Police made his debut on the coaching side for Craven Week last year and went on to experience great success earning a spot as assistant coach for the SA U18 rugby team.
This year, Zangqa led the East London Police to victory in the EC Super 14 club rugby final and said his appointment as head coach for Craven Week was an exciting opportunity for growth.
“I have been hoping for this for many years and this is the pinnacle of a career like mine because Craven Week is the biggest schoolboy rugby tournament in the world.
“Being a head coach for the team is out of this world and I will try my absolute best to lead Border to success.”
Last year, both Zangqa and then head coach Chase Morison focused on developing technical knowledge of the game as players returned to Craven Week for the first time in two years after the tournament was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Border players displayed great potential with players such as Sibabalwe Mahashe going on to be selected for SA Schools.
During Border’s victorious second game against the Western Province second-string team, Zangqa and Morison’s efforts enabled Border to come out as the side with better game management and a more resolute defence.
This year, Zangqa hopes to capitalise on this and said the approach to developing the site is premised on ensuring they are ready to take on the Blue Bulls in their opening game.
He said: “As Border, we can’t focus on fixing the players, as that is the responsibility of the schools. We will be trying to adapt what they have been taught into a style of play best suited to take on the Blue Bulls.
“You can’t win rugby games without a good defence and without good tackling and so we will be putting a lot of effort into our defence, especially in relation to how the Blue Bulls play which is determined by the personnel they have. We are keeping a close eye on their team and we will be putting our best foot forward in this regard.
“Our plan is centred around the Bulls because with Craven Week you aim to win your first game at all costs.
“The Bulls are an aerial threat because they are a side that likes to kick so we have to be good in this area and then exploit them with a lot of flight to the ball.
“We have our finger on the pulse and we have a good idea of what type of players we are looking for when it comes to taking on the Bulls.”
As trials for the Border side are fast approaching, Zangqa said that this year he hopes to utilise all available practice time, given that coaching Craven Week sides is often difficult as players juggle school commitments with their training.
Beyond claiming victory in the first game against the Bulls, Zangqa hopes the Border Craven Week side can play an exciting brand of rugby and pin teams in their own territories and exploit that with points.
From his debut at last year’s Craven Week, Zangqa said he believes that fixating on playing conditions is a flawed approach.
He explained: “We prepared for muddy conditions last year in Cape Town but when we arrived it was a lot drier than we thought.
“Instead, this year, my aim is to teach players to adapt to situations and to encourage them to bring a sense of flair to the game.”