The former South Africa sevens captain is now part of the national 15s set-up. By Jon Cardinelli
Who is Mzwandile Stick: Ten things you should know about the Springboks assistant coach
Mzwandile Stick is a former Springbok sevens captain who made the transition into coaching in his early 30s. Since hanging up his boots, he’s gone on to work with Eastern Province, the Southern Kings and the Springboks.
Here are a few more facts and stats about the South Africa assistant coach.
Ten things you should know about Mzwandile Stick
1. Stick was born on 5 October 1984 in Gqeberha (formerly known as Port Elizabeth). Like Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, he grew up in a township on the outskirts of the city and used rugby as a means to escape a life of poverty.
2. Stick played wing and full-back in the 15-man game for Eastern Province and had a brief stint in Super Rugby with the Sharks. He came off the bench for the newly formed Southern Kings side that faced the British & Irish Lions in 2009.
3. Stick was better known for his exploits in the seven-man code, and famously led the Blitzboks to their inaugural World Rugby Sevens Series title in 2009.
4. After moving into coaching, he had the opportunity to work with the Eastern Province U19 team. In 2015, the junior side won the domestic division for the first time in history.
5. A few eyebrows were raised when Stick was fast-tracked into the Springbok coaching team in 2016. The Boks finished the season with a 33% win-record. While head coach Alllister Coetzee copped most of the blame, Stick took the fall in the sense that he was cut from the senior coaching staff and moved into the SA U20 set-up.
6. When Rassie Erasmus succeeded Coetzee as Springbok coach in 2018, he made a point of recalling Stick. Erasmus felt that Stick’s experience in the seven-man game would be an asset to the Boks.
The young coach was given a mandate to develop the players’ off-the-ball skills and ultimately their work-rate. In the wake of the Boks’ success at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Erasmus and many of the players hailed Stick for his contributions.
7. Fellow coaches and players often refer to him by his nickname, ‘Stokke’ – the Afrikaans word for ‘sticks’.
8.The Springboks beat the All Blacks on 15 September 2018. The result ended South Africa’s nine-year drought on New Zealand soil. Seven days later, Stick celebrated another major milestone when he married Therina Mulder in Stellenbosch.
9. When the cash-strapped Southern Kings franchise was liquidated in 2020, Stick – a former player and coach – went out of his way to raise funds for the management and squad members who had been left without a source of income.
10. Stick was given the head coaching reins of the ‘Green team’ when a Springbok trial match was staged at Newlands last year. When Jacques Nienaber’s tenure eventually comes to an end, Stick will be a strong candidate for the head coach position.
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