Mac the Master: The man who connected the past with the future

By Lucky Maree

Loved and Lost: Ian MacIntosh (1938 – 2023)

Noisy, energetic, and a man who enjoyed life, Ian MacIntosh took over as Springbok coach when South African rugby fans found out that South Africa was no longer the greatest team in the world.

It was in 1992, just after readmission, that South Africa lost four test matches out of five. It was clear that the Springboks style of play was outdated. 

Springbok coach John Williams, a man with a remarkably successful coaching career, was conservative. A man who believed in the stern approach, he was certainly not “one of the boys”. 

He preferred being out of the limelight, hiding his emotions behind a stern exterior. Williams was clearly no longer capable of leading the Boks and Louis Luyt fired him.

Enter Ian MacIntosh. 

Mac was the opposite of Williams in every way. Happy to talk to the media, he was always there for the people and for his team. 

Most comfortable in a cap and tracksuit, he could be seen at the side of the field, living through every possible emotion with his team, whether joy or heartbreak.

Mac had taken the Sharks to great success in the early 1990s by playing modern rugby and he was the right guy for the job of taking over the Boks. 

The man who became known as “The Master” was coach for the critical years of 1993 and 1994 and – it only became apparent later – transformed South African national rugby completely. Luyt replaced him with Kitch Christie who led the Springboks to win the World Cup in 1995.

MacIntosh was a Springbok selector for 13 years and he worked with many South African national coaches in the senior and junior ranks. 

MacIntosh died in an Umhlanga hospital early on Wednesday morning. He had been diagnosed with cancer. He was 84 years old.

On their official Twitter page, Sharks Rugby posted: “Mr Mac, as he was affectionately known, was the most successful coach in the history of Sharks Rugby and lead us into the professional era. He was until the end a true ambassador of the black and white jersey.”

Pictured above: Ian MacIntosh

Image source: SA Rugby


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