Dun­can re­news ties in UK move

Ex-Kings cap­tain joins Solomons at Worces­ter

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - SPORT -

DE­SPITE its rapid ex­pan­sion around the globe where lu­cra­tive new mar­kets are con­stantly be­ing sought, world rugby’s in­ner cir­cle re­mains as tight as ever.

Even with huge amounts of cash chang­ing hands in the pro­fes­sional era, mu­tual re­spect be­tween coaches and play­ers still en­joys pride of place.

It is against this back­drop that an old EP Kings part­ner­ship will be re­newed in Eng­land when Alan Solomons wel­comes Rory Dun­can to Premier­ship club Worces­ter War­riors.

For­mer South­ern Kings Su­per Rugby coach Solomons al­ways had a ea­gle eye for tal­ent and his de­ci­sion to sign Dun­can as his head coach is an in­spired one.

Solomons, now di­rec­tor of rugby at Worces­ter, was in charge of the South­ern Kings when they made their de­but in Su­per Rugby in 2013.

While Solomons did not have the most tal­ented squad at his dis­posal, he moulded the Kings into a bat­tle-hard­ened unit which won many ad­mir­ers.

For that cam­paign, Solomons brought in for­mer Cru­saders hooker Matt Sex­ton as his head coach. Sex­ton, who was in Port El­iz­a­beth last month to watch the Kings play Cardiff Blues, summed up the spirit in the 2013 squad.

“They may not have been the most tal­ented, but they seemed to grow an ex­tra arm and leg when they pulled on a Kings jer­sey,” Sex­ton said.

It is a com­ment that speaks vol­umes about the tenac­ity of Solomons’ Kings.

Dun­can said he was look­ing for­ward to re­new­ing ties with the for­mer Kings boss.

The for­mer lock orig­i­nally made the move into coach­ing in 2012 and joined the Free State Chee­tahs in 2014 to coach their Vo­da­com Cup and Cur­rie Cup teams.

Dun­can took on his cur­rent role last sum­mer, where he also over­sees the side in South Africa’s do­mes­tic Cur­rie Cup com­pe­ti­tion.

In his play­ing days Dun­can rep­re­sented the Sharks, be­fore go­ing on to play for the Chee­tahs.

He was part of the Chee­tahs’ Cur­rie Cup win­ning side in 2006, be­fore cap­tain­ing the team to an­other Cur­rie Cup vic­tory in 2007.

He then moved to Yamaha Ju­bilo in Ja­pan be­fore go­ing on to cap­tain the EP Kings, where he played un­der­neath Sol- omons. When he called time on his ca­reer, Dun­can be­came head coach at Grey High where fly­ing wing Sergeal Pe­ter­son was a mem­ber of his team.

“Rory was my cap­tain at the EP Kings, where he showed out­stand­ing lead­er­ship qual­i­ties and a clear abil­ity to de­velop as a coach,” Solomons said.

“When he re­tired at the end of the sea­son I was able to as­sist him in his tran­si­tion to coach­ing and we have re­mained in touch.

“As ex­pected he has turned out to be an out­stand­ing coach and I had no hes­i­ta­tion in ap­point­ing him to the head coach po­si­tion at War­riors, an ap­point­ment which has been en­dorsed by our chair­man Bill Bolsover.”

Dun­can bade farewell to the Chee­tahs after they went down 43-8 against cham­pi­ons Scar­lets in Wales last Satur­day.

“I am im­mensely ex­cited about the chal­lenge of mov­ing to War­riors and link­ing up with Alan Solomons once again,” Dun­can said.

“War­riors are a club with huge po­ten­tial, which is clear for ev­ery­one to see, and I will be work­ing hard with Alan and the rest of the coach­ing staff to help the club move for­ward.”

Dun­can cer­tainly de­serves a big round of ap­plause for what the Chee­tahs achieved in their de­but PRO rugby sea­son.

Though they came un­stuck in last week’s quar­ter­fi­nal against the Scar­lets, the men in or­ange can hold their heads up high.

“We did not set sights on where we wanted to go in PRO14, be­cause it was new ter­ri­tory we were en­ter­ing into. We said we would take it one week at a time and see how we progress,” Dun­can said.

“If you had asked us two games into the com­pe­ti­tion, after we took al­most 50 points, we would have said we needed to work hard.

“Back then we were in po­si­tion where we said we needed to learn and we needed to learn quickly on how to play in the north­ern hemi­sphere.

“The Chee­tahs did learn and we got to the play­offs. Along the way we never spoke about mak­ing them.”

After mak­ing such an im­pact dur­ing his time in Bloem­fontein, Dun­can’s move to Eng­land is a big blow for the Free Staters.

In the tightly knit rugby world, one team’s gain is al­ways an­other’s loss.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: GALLO IMAGES

MOV­ING UP: New Worces­ter War­riors coach Rory Dun­can dur­ing his play­ing days for the EP Kings

ALAN SOLOMONS

GE­ORGE BY­RON

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