Thu, 28 Jan 2021

Cape Town - Mpho Mbiyozo's mannerism scream of New Zealand - chief among said mannerisms being his accent, which, if you've ever listened to a New Zealander speak, is anywhere between British and Australian.

Throw in the odd 'mate' in sentences and it's acceptable to conclude that Mbiyozo has fully embraced his move to New Zealand, as coach of Belfast Rugby Club - a position he held for no less than a month before a gunman killed 51 people at the Al Noor mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre on the morning of March 15.

Mbiyozo was part of the 2008/09 South African World Rugby Sevens Series winning team which he led with now Springbok World Cup winning assistant coach Mzwandile Stick.

The series win was a first for the country under then coach Paul Treu.

His inspiration to move to New Zealand, he reveals, came after he went on a development trip to Christchurch in June last year. He also spent time with Super Rugby side Crusaders, "who would, after training sessions ask for my input on what I had observed".

After a brief stint with the Southern Kings in 2013 and a coaching gig at the Boland Academy, Mbiyozo's experience of New Zealand attracted him to the point that when an opportunity to coach came about, he applied and got the job, setting off a new chapter of his life and his family - wife Aimee-Noel Mbiyozo and children Vukile (4), Alakhe (6) and Khaya (6).

"I was struck by the alignment of their rugby structures," Mbiyozo said. "I knew I had to go back and show off my coaching skills in the country."

The former flank says at its core, his rugby coaching philosophy looks beyond rugby.

"I push players to question what life looks like after rugby and in doing that, it's about them being able to be what they want to be in life."

"Yes, the rugby game plan and tactics are there, but what are you doing outside of rugby and are you looking beyond?" - this his draws from his personal experience.

Summed up, Mbiyozo said: "Its about using rugby to teach people about life."

Mbiyozo, now left with a year on his contract has plans of pursuing more rugby coaching opportunities.

And why not? At just 36, his goals include coaching in Japan and Europe.

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