MEET: Dabeon Draghoender, Head of Coaching at TuksRugby

Posted on November 22, 2019

1. Who is Dabeon Draghoender?

I am a proud, former TuksRugby player who won the first Varsity Cup title for the University of Pretoria in 2012. I am also a previous provincial rugby player for the Western Province rugby union, but now a coach for TuksRugby at the University of Pretoria. Following my playing career, TuksSport offered me the opportunity to become a coach at the Rugby Academy. My passion lies in developing players and giving opportunities to those who want to make it in Rugby. Rugby has been a catalyst for my life and brought about change for the better, so I want to forward those opportunities to the next player.

2. Tell us about your position here at UP?

At the moment, I am the Head of Coaching at TuksRugby. I’m responsible for development, recruitment and coaching clinics for the program. I’m also the head coach for the TuksRugby 7s team that won the USSA tournament in 2019 and finished 3rd overall in the Varsity Sport 7s tournament this year. We won the Varsity Sport 7s tournament last year, for the first time, which was a huge game-changer for the club. In addition to this, I am responsible for growing the TuksRugby outreach program and helping develop skills in surrounding communities.

3. What do you enjoy most about your job and why?

As a coach, I am in a position to change players through sport and to develop them into the athletes they need to be, to achieve their goals. The development process of coaching an athlete and seeing the results once they have grown is a priceless one. It continues to amaze me how easy it is to have an impact on an athlete while becoming a part of their inner circle through mentorship.

4. What is your least favourite part about your job?

I must say, being in the office and doing admin work. I can coach for five hours straight on the field, I’m good, but when I sit down in front of a computer for two hours, that’s a different story. Luckily I understand the importance of administration and governance in the sport, so when I do get around to doing admin work, it gets done.

5. What would be your top suggestion for making UP an even better place to work?

Transparency in the workplace, promoting excellence and maintaining consistency in the processes. Making sure that we promote and preserve the culture of excellence at the University of Pretoria and always attaining the TuksSport slogan #Elevate2Greatness, that will be part of what helps our organisation usher in the next century.

6. If you were not in your current position, what else would you have liked to be?

I stopped chasing my playing career dreams earlier that I planned because I wanted to coach, so I don't know. Seeing that I still want to study Community Development, maybe something that centres on uplifting the youth in developing communities. What I'm doing now is my passion, so doing something different won't happen.

7. Tell us who Dabeon Draghoender is away from work?

I am a husband and soon to be a father, I also believe that friendship is the most important relationship after family, to grow you as a person in life. I enjoy everything that makes us South Africans, that is braais, sport and being surrounded by loved ones. My wife Audrey also works for the University and she is my life outside my job. I knew she was the one from when we met in Varsity. She is my true escape.  

8. What are your goals for the next five years?

To grow the TuksRugby program into the biggest brand in South Africa and Africa. We have the facilities and capabilities to do so, and our program is one of the oldest in SA Rugby, as it continues to produce Springbok players over the years. The current Springbok World Cup champion team has about six players that have come through the TuksRugby program. The most recent proof of the success and culture of the TuksRugby program was when Marco van Staden was selected to play for the Barbarians team, one of the oldest rugby clubs. Marco came to the office and asked for club socks to play in for their game against Fiji this past weekend, continuing the #StripeGeneration tradition. 

9. Is there a favourite piece of advice you have received in life that you would like to share with our colleagues?

In my playing days, a coach told me that I must always be ready and pack for the next opportunity that will come along, because it won’t wait for you to get ready. As a coach/educator you must always remember, or remind yourself the ‘why’, and don’t let external things drive you.

In rugby, we say ‘leave the jersey in a better place than you got it’.

- Author Angelica van Dou

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