Tributes pour in for rugby legend Ian McIntosh

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By Sports Reporter

ZIMBABWE Rugby Union (ZRU) has paid tribute to the legendary former Springboks and Sharks coach Ian McIntosh, who passed away at a hospital in Durban, Wednesday morning after battling cancer.

He was 84.

Popularly known in rugby circles as ‘Mac’, McIntosh was born in Bulawayo  in 1938 and had a lengthy coaching career which started in Zimbabwe, coaching the then Rhodesia national team and continued in South Africa where he had great success.

McIntosh famously guided the Sharks, then known as Natal to their first Currie Cup title in 1990 before winning a further three titles in 1992, 1995 and 1996.

He took over as Springboks coach in 1993 and 1994, taking charge of South Africa’s national rugby team in 12 Tests.

After the end of his coaching career McIntosh was a Springbok selector for 13 years and he also served as a mentor for numerous South African national coaches in the senior and junior ranks.

He also stayed in touch with the game through his involvement with the South African Rugby Legends Association (SARLA).

McIntosh’s contribution to the game was recognised in 2013 when he received World Rugby’s Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service for his achievement in changing the face of rugby in South Africa.

Despite reaching lofty heights in South African, McIntosh maintained a close connection with Zimbabwe, occasionally offering his expertise to the various national teams including the Sables.

ZRU president Aaron Jani said McIntosh remained a big supporter of Zimbabwe rugby despite his reaching lofty heights in South Africa.

“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 a statement.

“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.”

South African Rugby Union president Mark Alexander paid tribute to McIntosh for serving the game with distinction.

“‘Mac’ left an indelible mark on the global rugby landscape, but even more so in South Africa and with his beloved Sharks,” Alexander told the Springboks’ official website.

“He was a rugby man through and through, someone who never stopped learning, coaching, education and giving back.

“He will be remembered as Springbok and Sharks coach, who plotted the unthinkable in 1990 when the ‘Banana Boys’ beat the mighty Bulls in the Currie Cup final in Pretoria, but later in his life, along with SARLA, ‘Mac’ did magnificent work in uplifting the less fortunate, using rugby as a tool to bring smiles to the faces of thousands of children through the years.

“’Mac’ never stopped working and believed in giving back to the game that he loved so much. As South African rugby, we owe him so much gratitude for what he’s done, and we honour him for the role he played in the game, both here and internationally.

“We are thinking of Rhona, his wife of almost 60 years, and their three sons, Ross, Craig and Evan, as well as the rest of the McIntosh family, friends and other loved ones in this very difficult time. May you find solace in the memories of a man who will forever be remembered as a pioneer in rugby and whose influence stretched over generations.

“Rest in peace, Master.”

The Sharks paid tribute to their former coach on their official Twitter account.