A SOUTH AFRICAN coach who has been in Scotland for three years is dreaming of taking Dumfries Saints to a league and cup double in his first season with the club.
Rudi Urbach is, however, taking none of the credit for the remarkable state of affairs at New Abbey Road where the club finds themselves pushing for a second consecutive promotion, and in the last four of the BT National League Cup, one step away from a Murrayfield final. Their semi-final match is away to St Boswells on 31st March.
”The Saints were in a good place when I joined them last June, having just been promoted from National League 3, and were already focussed on good attitudes, while encouraging young players to take up the game,” said the Durban born 39-year-old. “All I have done in my dual role of head coach and academy manager is give the club the benefit of my experience of coaching in South Africa and New Zealand, while insisting on a no training-no game policy at the club. So far it is working, and we have up to 30 players turning out for training two nights a week.”
Urbach also reckons he has been lucky in having a first team with an average age of 23 turning out in National League Division Two every week.
”Many of them were part of a successful Colts team who have stuck together, making a real fist of things. The club is particularly fortunate in having six under-25 coaches, three of whom I am proud to say are women,” he explained.
“In fact, our president is a woman. Isobel Rainey is one of the best. There are also some older heads at the club, and as you might expect some Borderers who know everything there is to know about the game of rugby.”
“Tuck Rainey, who is our team manager, is one of them. He played for Gala between 1955 and 1962, and claims to have got the better of the legendary Christie Elliott of Langholm who went on to play 13 times for Scotland in that era. All in all, you could say the club is in a good place, and looking positively to the future, especially with past president Sam Carlisle and Stan Johnstone in the support structure. Two great blokes.”
“Urbach spent a year in New Zealand in the middle of his three-year spell in Scotland, which included a short period with Garioch Rugby, and another at Hillfoots before circumstances out-with his control enforced a change of scene.
”The bottom fell out of the oil and gas industry, forcing me to look elsewhere for employment. The dual role I fill at the club is just perfect. My wife Leanne and daughter Molly just love it here in Scotland, and are very supportive.”
”The Scottish attitude to coaching is very open, clubs are keen to share information which is just brilliant, something I did not experience elsewhere. I like to think I have fitted in here.”
Saints return to the nitty-gritty of league rugby on Saturday, when they will entertain Howe of Fife, after the hurly-burly of the League Cup at New Anniesland last weekend where they beat GHK 23-17.
”We picked up a number of injuries in a typical cup tie, but if we’d had a choice of opponents, I would have opted for St Boswells who are old friends here at New Abbey Road,” concluded Urbach.