The rugby world is mourning the loss of one of its most legendary figures, Ian McIntosh. He was fondly viewed as the ‘Godfather’ of Sharks Rugby, having coached Natal during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Under his guidance, Natal won their first Currie Cup championship in 1990, and McIntosh ultimately went on to oversee four Currie Cup victories as the team’s coach. He also coached the Sharks to two Super 12 finals.
McIntosh’s influence on South African rugby was immense. Before taking the helm at the Sharks, he coached the Zimbabwe national rugby union team. However, his appointment as the head coach for the Springboks during 1993 and 1994 earned him national recognition. He oversaw 12 Tests as a coach, with the Springboks winning four games, drawing two, and losing six.
A Passionate and Committed Coach
McIntosh’s passion and commitment to the game were legendary, and he was admired as a coach who gave more than he received. His success with the Sharks led to his appointment as national coach. Even after he departed from the Springboks, he remained a national figure and an important figure in South African rugby.
McIntosh’s legacy as a coach remained intact, despite being sacked as national coach the year before the 1995 World Cup following a series defeat to the All Blacks in New Zealand in mid-1994. His importance to South African and Sharks rugby was recognized in 2021 when the Sharks named their main entrance gate at Kings Park after the iconic figure who remained passionate about the game throughout his career.
Tributes from the Rugby Community
Following the news of McIntosh’s passing, tributes from the rugby community poured in. Former South African cricketer Pat Symcox expressed his grief on Facebook, calling McIntosh “a GREAT man” and “an ICONIC rugby man” whom he was “proud to have called a true friend.” Former Lions and Bok assistant coach Swys de Bruin shared his condolences, saying: “I learned so much from you! I will be forever grateful. May God protect and comfort Rona, Craig, and the rest of your family.”
Former Springbok legend Kobus Wiese also paid tribute to McIntosh on Twitter, calling him a man who had “left such an impact through the great game of rugby on so many lives.” In October 2013, World Rugby recognized McIntosh’s outstanding coaching and management when they gave him the prestigious Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service.
A Shining Example of Commitment and Passion
The rugby community will deeply miss Ian McIntosh, but his legacy will live on. He remains an inspiration and a shining example of what can be achieved by a passionate and committed individual who never wavered in his values. His contribution to South African rugby and influence on the game will be felt for generations. McIntosh will always be remembered as one of the most legendary figures in rugby.