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News > Passing of friends > Legendary teacher and coach passes away

Legendary teacher and coach passes away

Bishops community is saddened by the passing of Andre Jacobs.
'Meneer Jacobs'
'Meneer Jacobs'

It is with great sadness that the ODU has learnt of the passing of a former Bishops legendary teacher and coach, Mr André Jacobs who died on Wednesday 26 April 2023. 

André Jacobs trained as a teacher at Paarl Teachers’ College and began his teaching career at St Andrew’s College in Makhanda.  From there, in 1985, he came to Bishops as a teacher of Afrikaans and ran the Afrikaanse Klub.  He Spent two years at Bishops teaching and coaching sport, already then showing great leadership; for instance, as the teacher in charge of Athletics, himself an athlete participating at provincial level; and coaching rugby, for the U16 Age Division.

He and his family then moved to Hermanus, where he and Ronelle opened a restaurant, reflecting André’s passion for fine food and cooking (he always was the one in the house to prepare the meals).  His time as a restaurateur ended when the call back to the classroom was strong, seeing him return to St Andrew’s College in 1990.  His meteoric rise as House Director of Espin House—a position he filled with distinction from 1991 to 1998, with the full support from his beloved spouse Ronelle—and as the First Team Rugby coach, attest to his undisputed leadership.   

It was at St Andrew’s College that André made a great name for himself as one of the country’s leading rugby coaches, bringing to its shores the rugby he had learned from the iconic Bishops coach Basil Bey—that of the ‘running rugby’ code.  There he joined his brother Leon also a teacher and a House Director (Armstrong House).  Marguerite Poland the inimitable St Andrew’s historian writes thus:

“With regards to the rugby team, the return of André Jacobs to the staff and the introduction of his ‘running rugby’ style, swept College into the forefront of sporting schools in the next decade”.    

Others such as the current St Andrew’s Headmaster Mr Tom Hamilton, writing at the time André was set to return to Bishops (1999), paid tribute to André's tenure as rugby coach at the College, describing him as among its great coaches.   

André returned to Bishops in 1999 (in Bishops’ 150th year) to take up the position of the coach to the College’s First Rugby XV after the retirement of Basil Bey.  Writing the article to commemorate André's time at Bishops (1999 – 2015), Mr Warwick Richter, head of the Common Room at the time, said about his rugby coaching career:

"André is very highly thought of as an innovative strategist, as a student of rugby and as a die-hard supporter of the running game …”  One of André’s favourite catchphrases was “play what you see in front of you”, “attack the space”, and “if you think of passing, it’s too late”. 

Many a player from André’s sides both from St Andrew’s and Bishops, has gone on to achieve great heights in the game, at national and international level.  It was on the Piley, playing in André’s side, that they learnt a philosopy that no individual player is bigger than the game. Mr Richter further explained in his address, that whilst the game of rugby was an area where André made his mark at Bishops, his reach and influence during the sixteen years he spent here, extended well beyond rugby.    

André was a super athlete in his own right, participating in the Triple Jump representing Western Province at the South African Championships.  It therefore came as no surprise during his first tenure at Bishops (1985 – 1987) when André took over the baton from previous heads of athletics as its new teacher-in-charge, that athletics continued to flourish.  André was also a highly respected teacher of Afrikaans—a born teacher—engaging with his students in a way showing understanding, at the same time requiring from them undivided attention for the subject.  During his second tenure at Bishops (1999 – 2015), André was promoted to the role of Deputy Head: Sport and Discipline in 2008, a position he held until retirement.  Here he demonstrated his true humanity in his understanding of school-going young men by tempering justice with mercy when it came to dealing with their peccadillos and offences.

André and Ronelle retired to their new home in Kleinmond in the Western Cape in 2015, although they kept close ties with their friends in Cape Town and as regular visitors to Bishops.  The news of the death of André therefore comes as a huge shock to the Bishops community.

We send his beloved wife Ronelle, children Leandrè, Chrizaan, Rozelle and Mornè (at Bishops from 2001- 2009), his grandchildren and his brothers Leon and Charl our deepest condolences.  

On a personal level, being senior by a number of years to me, André was a great mentor, whom I respected for his kindness, level-headedness, complete understanding, sound advice at all times, and his bonhomie.   

André Jacobs was a great friend and former colleague! 

Rest in Peace Andretjie!

We will be able to publish details of André’s life’s celebration once these have been received.


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