University of Cape Town (UCT) alumnus and former Coca-Cola chief executive Neville Isdell, a long-time supporter and patron of the UCT Rugby Football Club, has been named as the 13th president of the 137-year-old club.
The global leader, who has served on the boards of big corporates including General Motors and British Telecom, and non-profits such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) USA and the Peace Parks Foundation, takes over the reins from former Springbok Dugald Macdonald who held the position for 15 years.
Born in Ireland and raised in Zambia, Isdell began his undergraduate studies at UCT in 1961. On the rugby field, he was quickly promoted from the third team to the 1st XV, building a fearsome reputation as a fiery lock.
In 2014, his $1-million donation funded the Neville Isdell Rugby Centre, a transformation of the old change rooms at the bottom of the Sports Centre on upper campus to a big, bright space where players can prepare for games in comfort.
Vast experience and acumen
He brings his vast experience and acumen to the Ikey Tigers at a time when the club is growing in strength to meet the challenge of the arrival of professional rugby at club level globally.
Boasting a remarkable list of highlights under Macdonald’s watch, the club beat Maties in Stellenbosch in 2004 for the first time in 30 years, won the Varsity Cup in 2011 and again in 2014, and won the inaugural World University Rugby Cup in 2015.
“[Isdell’s presidency is] a massive encouragement to the work so many of us are doing to put Ikey Tigers at the forefront of global student rugby.”
Fourteen club players went on to become Springboks and the first UCT women’s rugby team was launched last year.Club chairman Greg Fury said Ikey Tigers are “extraordinarily grateful” for the contributions of Macdonald and his wife, Marguerite Macdonald, over the years.
“They have shared their lives, home and inimitable zest for life with players and supporters in a way that has shaped and inspired the Ikey Tigers community for many years to come,” he said.
Johnny Biderman-Pam, club director, said having an alumnus of Isdell’s stature step into Macdonald’s shoes is “a massive encouragement to the work so many of us are doing to put Ikey Tigers at the forefront of global student rugby”.
“Besides being a lot of fun, rugby is a fantastic vehicle to bring people from different walks of life together, to forge friendships and to develop the character and skills students need to have a greater impact on South Africa as they enter their work careers,” he said.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Please view the republishing articles page for more information.