Gate of honour for Mac
The Sharks have saluted one of their favourite sons, Ian McIntosh, by naming the main gate of Jonsson Kings Park Stadium in honour of the legendary coach.
At a small function at the Shark Tank earlier this week, “Mac” was handed the keys to the stadium where he brought so much glory to the Sharks teams he coached between 1986 and 1999.
McIntosh, now 82, moved from Zimbabwe to Durban in 1984 and in 1986 he took charge of a Natal team that had been drowning in the B division of the Currie Cup.
Four years later, Mac had transformed the B Section no-hopers into Currie Cup champions after an Earth-shattering upset at Loftus Versfeld in 1990 when his team beat Naas Botha’s Northern Transvaal.
Mac won three more Currie Cups with his “Team of the ’90s” and coached the Sharks to two Super 12 finals. He also coached the Springboks, from ’93 to ’94.
Craig Jamieson, the captain of the Natal team that beat the Bulls 18-12 in 1990, said Mac “changed everything”.
“Mac gave us a game plan that everybody bought into,” Jamieson recalls. “Mac ate, drank and slept rugby, and was an innovator. He had a rugby brain of note and although he was a disciplinarian, he was also a loyal friend to the players. The key to Mac’s success is that he could get the balance right — nobody doubted for one second (who was in charge) but he was also there for you 24/7.”
Mac’s ability to establish a rapport with his players has been picked up by another Natal legend, Tony Watson, who scored the winning try in the 1990 triumph.
“If I can give a modern analogy of why Mac was successful, I will point out Jurgen Klopp of Liverpool. His humility and rapport with his players are why Liverpool won the title, and when I see how Klopp handles himself now that his team are on a losing run, it reminds me of Mac.
“No team can win forever and it is when you are on a bad run that you see the colours of your coach. Klopp is not blaming his players, he takes responsibility himself, and that is how Mac was with us when we lost. The players loved him for that, and I am so glad that Mac has been honoured for life by the Sharks.”
The Independent on Saturday