UKZN are desperate to make an impression in the inaugural Varsity Shield and, thus, have opted for a mixture of youth and experience in their coaching team.
Seasoned head coach Bryan Bateman is a well-respected coach with an impressive record and will be joined by ambitious 23-year-old assistant coach Dylan Campbell in plotting their first Varsity Shield campaign.
Bateman told varsitycup.co.za: "I have been coaching now for 22 years, I have come to a stage where, maybe I'm not the future. I have done my bit and I'm very happy to help and mentor a guy like Dylan."
Bateman started his coaching career in 1988 when he was asked to coach the first team at the Pietermaritzburg campus.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal mentor said: "I was brand new in the coaching field and they wanted me to coach their first team so it was a bit of a challenge. I was there for five years and at the end of '93 I went to College Rovers in Durban and coached there through to 2000. We won the Moor Cup a couple of times and we went to the National Club Champs."
This success at club level meant that Bateman was asked to step up to coach the Natal Wildebeest in the Vodacom Cup, but not before he had found an able replacement to take his place at Rovers.
"When I coached at College Rovers current Sharks XV coach Sean Everitt was playing there and I convinced him to take up coaching," he revealed.
"In 2001 and 2002 I coached the Wildebeest side, so Sean took over the coaching of the Rovers set-up and did really well with them winning the Moor Cup and Murray Cup."
After his spell with the Wildebeest, Bateman spent a couple of years at powerhouse KZN rugby school Maritzburg College before moving back to where he started his coaching career with UKZN.
The story behind his enthusiastic assistant is a little less conventional. For Dylan Campbell his life changed in early 2007 when he found himself sitting on a plane next to Springbok coach Jake White.
Campbell recalled to varsitycup.co.za: "We had a chat, I told him what I did and he liked what I knew about rugby, so he actually invited me to all the Springbok training sessions in Durban that year. I was a shadow, wherever he went I just walked around and followed him."
After gaining an insider's view of how to coach a World Cup-winning team, Campbell went to Dick Muir's Investec Rugby Academy in 2008 where he completed the High Performance Course.
"I received the Best Coach Award on the course there... (and) that's when I realised that coaching was something I wanted to take seriously," he said.
Campbell then spent some time working for Muir at his academy and coaching the Hillcrest Villagers Under-20 team before he was asked to join the UKZN coaching staff in 2010 where he linked up with Bateman.
Regarding his relationship with Bateman, he said: "Myself and 'Beans' [Bateman's nickname from his playing days] have a great relationship, he treats me as an equal so we are actually very close. He is so experienced, so everything I want to do I bounce off him.
"He gives me his full support, if I say something he runs with it. He is rated as one of the best coaches in KZN, he is one of the best ever local coaches and he is on the KZNRU coaching board, so he is a massive name.
"A lot of the players that play for Maritzburg Varsity come from Maritzburg College, so he coached basically 80-90% of the boys at schoolboy level," he added.
Bateman is equally excited about his working relationship with Campbell.
He, in turn, said: "I'm happy to work with him, I find him an interesting coach, it's always nice for us older guys to see someone coaching with enthusiasm.
"With all the new thought processes in the game we can maybe get a little stale, so it's nice to work with a young guy with such great enthusiasm and passion.
"It's not often that you get someone who has such a passion for coaching so early," added Bateman.
"He has identified that he wants to be a coach, he has aspirations of going far in the coaching world; so for him to latch onto someone like myself and learn from that and feed off it I think is great."
Bateman is upbeat about the benefits of such a unique dynamic. He commented: "I think it is a benefit to both of us. I will give him a free reign, let him do things and then haul him back and talk about things, so I think we work well.
"Dylan is confident and he is a sponge, he asks questions about everything and I think he is not a bad teacher."
According to Bateman "one of the challenges facing a young coach like Dylan is to get the respect of the players".
However this is not something that worries the young coach much, explaining: "I have always said to myself that if I know what I'm doing the players will have full faith in me. It's never been a problem at all.
"It's actually a joke in our squad that I'm the youngest member, I think there are only about one or two okes actually younger than me (in the squad)!"
Campbell, who describes himself as "probably one of the luckiest guys alive" has got a very clear idea of what he would like to achieve with the UKZN Varsity Shield team this year.
He said: "I believe that the Varsity Cup is the closest thing you can get to professional rugby for the youngsters, so I try to get a proper set-up going with a gym session in the morning, teaching the guys how to eat right and how to balance out their days and weeks and that type of thing."
For Bateman, the fact that the Varsity Shield is unchartered territory for everyone will prove significant.
He said: "I think this first season will be a very big learning curve for everybody, I don't think the players realise the journey that they are going to be on. I think it's going to be an amazing journey for everyone concerned."
And, for UKZN and their coaching team, whose assistant coach was just a one-year-old baby when the current head coach started out on his coaching career, it will most definitely be a unique experience!
By Michael de Vries