Ricardo Loubscher, who has played 4 tests and 7 matches for the Springboks, is currently coaching the Blue Bulls' Vodacom Cup team with Nico Serfontein (head coach) and Denzil Frans (forward coach).
Loubscher answered ten questions from bluebulls.co.za, covering his early years, his love for rugby, coaching and his hobbies.
WHAT ARE YOUR EARLIEST RUGBY MEMORIES?
I grew up in a family that loved sport and I remember waking up at 4:00 in the mornings to watch the Springboks play against the All Blacks. I was still very young at that stage but the rest of my family watched and I had no choice but to join them.
WHEN DID YOU START PLAYING RUGBY?
We lived in Colesberg and the kids of our neighbourhood played against one another on the dirt roads. Normally one block would form a team and we would play against the other blocks. My block's name was the "Proteas" and we participated in all sorts of different sports including soccer, table tennis, golf, tennis and karate.
WHEN DID YOU START TO FOCUS ON RUGBY?
It was only after matric that I started to focus on rugby. I actually played soccer and rugby at quite a high level at school and, at one stage, I even toyed with the idea of following a career in tennis.
WILL YOU ADVISE CHILDREN TO PARTICIPATE IN A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT SPORTS OR SHOULD THEY SPECIALISE EARLY IN HIGH SCHOOL?
I think kids should play as many sports as possible. It will help them to build up a variety of skills and it will give them exposure at different levels. Rugby players who are able to do a number of sports are normally more balanced than the ones that are only capable of playing rugby.
WHY DID YOU TAKE UP COACHING?
I think it stems from my education background and my passion for people. I love to work with people and it is an honour and a privilege to give something back to the game.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERTISE AS A COACH?
Backline coaching, skills and the positional skills of the wings and fullback. I was responsible for the Bulls' skills training during 2007's Super 14 as well as the positional play of the back three.
WHAT WERE SOME OF YOUR PROUDEST MOMENTS AS A COACH?
During last year's Currie Cup the backs played very well against the Boland Cavaliers: they were in shape, they finished off their moves, their decision making was excellent and they executed very well. The try Marius Delport scored against the Griekwas was very satisfying because it was a move that we have worked on for a number of weeks.
WHAT IS THE DOWN SIDE OF COACHING?
The pressure that comes with the job doesn't bother me a lot because it comes with the territory. What I dislike the most is when we lose a match without putting up a fight and it is not very pleasing to sit and watch when the players don't perform to their abilities.
DO YOU LEARN FROM OTHER SPORTS?
Yes, we as coaches learn quite a lot from rugby league and American football. During the off season at the end of 2007 I went to England with our technical advisor Johann van Graan and we had brilliant meetings with Kevin Bowring and Conor O'Shea. Bowring is coaching the top coaches in England and O'Shea is in charge of the RFU's Academies.
WHO OF THE YOUNGSTERS IMPRESSED YOU DURING THE TRAINING CAMP AT GEORGE?
The two new recruits from WP, Francois Hougaard and Stephan Dippenaar, were outstanding. I think players like Stefan Watermeyer, Burton Francis and Ruan Boshoff are special and I have a high regard of Rocco Jansen. These guys just need time to settle at the next level.
DO YOU HAVE OTHER HOBBIES APART FROM RUGBY?
I am interested in the finance and property market and I like reading self development books. Golf is on my "to do" list for 2008 and I would like to play another round with John McFarland against Pote Human and Heini Adams! What I enjoy most though is spending my time off with the family.
WHAT INFLUENCE WILL THE NEW LAWS HAVE ON THE BACKS?
It will give them extra time and space (due to the 5m scrum law) but we will have to be extra fit because the ball is going to be more in play than what we've been used to. There is going to be less penalties and our defence will be tested thoroughly.
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