PRETORIA — On the field, he was known as a maverick and innovator, someone unafraid to try new things as he became one of South Africa’s most prolific point-scorers.
Now, former Zimbabwe and Cheetahs flyhalf Kennedy Tsimba is looking to take that same approach into his rugby coaching as he prepares to make a comeback in the professional side of the game after spending most of last decade with the Rustenburg Impala and Pretoria-based high school St Alban’s College.
As a player at the Cheetahs, Tsimba formed a strong relationship with both ex-Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus and his predecessor Jacques Nienaber having watched his mentors guide South Africa to the 2019 World Cup in Japan; he says he felt inspired to go back to professional rugby.
“Somebody asked me why I would want to move from St Alban’s, with the sort of success we have enjoyed over the past few years,” Tsimba said.
“The first season that I got here, we beat Pretoria Boys’ High for the first time. In the third year, our first team got a school record, with only two losses that season. Last year, we produced our first-ever SA Schools player in Simon Miller. Things have been going so well there.
“I told them that watching the World Cup and just seeing my former teammate in Rassie and now Jacques, who was my physio. To see them making such strides in professional rugby, it inspired me to say that I need to get back into the professional environment.
“What has been tricky is that the way I played was in a sports-scientific way, I have always tried to be creative and innovative. That was something I had in common with Jacques, when we were working together at the Cheetahs.
“Just watching them win the World Cup … everyone says it inspires players but I believe it should inspire coaches that maybe have lost their way. What happens is that coaches don’t always see a clear pathway and then just give up.”
Tsimba is busy working as a defence, kicking and skills specialist with the University of Pretoria in the Varsity Cup.
He says that with teams starting to value specialist coaches more in the current era now is a good time to return to a professional set-up.
“It is a good time to enter the professional coaching field. When we played, we just had a forwards and backs coach. Now you have attack and defence coaches and it is a good thing. I haven’t been involved in the professional game for about eight years or so.
“Going back into the professional environment has been a huge eye-opener because it has changed so much. It has become so detailed and intricate. Sports science is playing a much larger role. That’s something that I have always enjoyed. I’ve always wondered why that has not been the case in the past.
“There are different pathways as we can see from different coaches. But the one I am on now has been a good one.”
— SA Rugby Magazine