FORMER Springbok coach Ian McIntosh (oictured), who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 84 near Durban, became a legendary figure in South African rugby but should also be remembered for his undying love and loyalty to Zimbabwe, his country of origin.
McIntosh was born in 1938 in Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo, and grew up there. As a young man he played for Old Miltonians, traditionally the city’s best rugby club.
Coaching was his forte, though, and he earned his badges to later coach the national team, Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known before 1980.
It was a very good Rhodesia side and McIntosh’s coaching skills came to the fore, paving his way to the greener pastures of rugby-mad South Africa.
His coaching career in South Africa is well documented and has been extensively covered by other writers – from the great Natal side (later Sharks) to the Springboks.
I first came into contact with Ian in 2005 as assistant coach of Zimbabwe Schools at the Craven Week in South Africa. It sparked off a close and fruitful relationship with Mudhara Ian (as we called him). He was a legend, and a big brother to Zimbabwe.
As one of the selectors of the South African Schools side, Ian was always at the Craven Week. I remember in 2007 when Zimbabwe won all three Craven Week games, he was most pleased and he remembered maybe one, if not any other side, achieving this feat.
“Magona (well done)”, he said to us. Ian would always surprise us with lots of Shona for a “proud Matabele” as he always called himself.
I struck around in this (Craven Week) role until 2016, a good 12 years. Ian always took time to greet us and encourage the boys, be it in win or loss.
A man that never forgot his roots and certainly helped Zimbabwean rugby every time. Fly high, Mdala Ian. We have lost a rugby gentleman and the game will be poorer for his loss.
*Godwin ‘Jaws’ Murambiwa is a renowned Zimbabwean rugby coach who has coached at all levels up to the senior national team. He writes this obituary for The NewsHawks.