The announcement this week that Mr Reg Hammond will be the Golden Lions Craven Week head coach for next year is unique. He is succeeding Mr Carl Spilhaus, Jeppe’s first team coach, and it has to be the first time that two successive Craven Week coaches are from the same school.
It’s not the first time that Mr Hammond will be going to the week as a coach. Back in the mid 1990s he was teaching at a Learners with Special Educational Needs (LSEN) school and he coached the SA LSEN team that played at the Craven Week in those days.
At the time, Mr Hammond was playing rugby himself and he played hooker for the Valke in the Currie Cup before his career was cut short by injury.
All the time, he was studying as well, and that is still going on. He is currently completing his Phd, and a second Masters degree at the same time, which makes him a solid academic, as well as a top rugby coach.
He is Jeppe’s Human Development Specialist and Peak Performance Consultant, which translates, he says, into school counsellor and sports psychologist. “Those two combine my two loves – counselling and psychology and sports motivation – and I am very lucky to work at a school like Jeppe where the importance of those roles in education are valued,” he said.
Mr Hammond’s path to becoming Craven Week head coach began, he believes, when he joined King Edward School as a teacher in 2004. He coached the first team there for two years, taking them from a struggling team to a very successful one.
Then he was persuaded to come the Jeppe. “The SGB and the headmaster at the time had a long-term plan to take the school to the next level and I was sold on the dream. So I came to Jeppe in 2006, and it was the best move I could have made.”
Part of the plan was to have a full time counsellor at the school and Mr Hammond has expanded that role to an extent that he now works with learners, teachers, parents and even old boys who he helped in the past who still come back to see him.
And then there is the rugby. He initially coached the under-16 team before having a seven year stint as 1st team coach from 2009 to 2016. He then went back to the under-16s before joining Mr Spilhaus as forwards coach for the first team last year.
He also became one of Mr Spilhaus’ assistant coaches with the Golden Lions Craven Week team.
“Coaching at Jeppe has been the highlight of my career,” he said, “the success we are enjoying now is a result of that long-term plan and I am happy to have been part of it.”
The last two years, working with Mr Spilhaus, have been special. “He has put the most amazing systems into place at Jeppe and at the Golden Lions and I have learned a lot from him. Although we are different people, we have the same philosophy of rugby, so my job as Lions coach will be to build on what has gone before.”
Jeppe’s rugby, and the welfare of our boys, are in good hands with Mr Hammond here. And his special touch is going to bring great benefits to the Golden Lions from now on too.