Front Row Grunt

Rugby … with cauliflower ears

Meet Tank

The rugby coach:

2020 will be former WP prop Tank Lanning’s third as the UCT Ikey Tigers 1st XV forward coach, and his second as the SACS 1st XV scrum coach.

Under Tank and his fellow coaches, UCT lost just one league game in 2019, coming in a single league point behind Maties. They also defended their World University crown in Tokyo as a part of the Rugby World Cup festivities.

Tank sees the scrum as a weapon, one that is not driven by just the three big guys up front, instead by all 8 forwards. Technique, strength and power are key, but it’s the timing that makes a scrum dominant.

Having started the Tank Lanning Scrum School, Tank is available for both individual and team coaching sessions.

Email him at

The rugby player:

  • Western Province (Currie Cup, Lion Cup and a tour to Aus and NZ)
  • SA Schools
  • WP Craven Week
  • Bishops 1st XV (2 unbeaten seasons – 1988 and 1989)
  • WP U20
  • WP League
  • SA Universities
  • UCT 1st XV (Awarded Full Blues in 1992, 1993 and 1994)
  • Awarded the Smuts Hall “Sportsman of the year” in 1992

The media guy:

Tank heads up Tankman Media, a company offering digital and social media strategy, content creation, writing and broadcasting services.

Activities include:

  • Digital publishing, including both commercial and editorial strategy and implementation;
  • Developing and implementing social media strategies and campaigns, including content creation;
  • Community creation and management;
  • Implementing systems that allow for simple publishing to multiple channels;
  • MC’ing events and hosting Q&A sessions with celebs;
  • Regular rugby ramblings on this Front Row Grunt website, for which Tank was nominated for an SAB Journalism Award in 2010
  • Offering up rugby opinion and analysis to close on 30 000 followers via his @frontrowgrunt Twitter handle;
  • Offering up braai and rugby banter to over 9 000 followers via his @tanklanning Twitter handle.

The journey thus far:

2012 – 2019: Digital strategist and publisher at new Media Publishing

2007 – 2011: Publisher & Editor of – the biggest sport website in SA in terms of domestic users.

2001 to 2007 – Head of New Media at Touchline Media

1995 to 2000 – Head of Touchline Photo, a division of Touchline Media


  • 2006 – Completed the Stanford University “Publishing on the Web” course in San Francisco.
  • 2003 – Completed the Media Management Programme run by the University of Stellenbosch.
  • 1994 – Read a post-graduate diploma in management (Marketing) at UCT
  • 1993 –  Graduated from UCT with a Bachelor of Social Science, majoring in Economics


  • 1988 –  Matriculated from the Diocesan College (Bishops)
  • 1989 –  Remained at Bishops to do Post-Matric.


  • School and House prefect in 1988 and 1989
  • Sergeant in the Cadet Corps
  • Captain of the school Athletics team
  • 1st team waterpolo, swimming, athletics and rugby
  • WP colours for athletics and rugby
  • Distinction tie for rugby

Tank the person …

As important to making a success of his career, is being able to balance that by spending time with family and friends. Mad about sport – both participating (golf, swimming, cycling, and the odd triathlon) and watching (rugby and cricket primarily, but golf, athletics, swimming and even Strongman competitions will keep him on the couch), spending time with mates while doing something thirst inducing and fun is pretty much top notch for the big man.

Contact Tank Lanning by CLICKING HERE


  1. Hi Tank,

    Thought you disappeared from the face of the earth!!!

    After your scuffle with your previous overseers I never swa anything about you till yesterday and havin liked your blog before decided to sign up.

    So here goes – happy to see your comments and predictions agai,

    • Good man Willem. Welcome back! Also Front Row Grunt page on Facebook, and @frontrowgrunt on Twitter …

  2. Hi Tank

    Your old coach here, I see you and my son have been tweeting, tweeping whatever they call it. Its about time you visit me to talk rugby!


  3. But you must remember, Tank, the Scots were the home team, which always tends to put a few inches onto the legs of the home team.

  4. Hi Tank,
    I was a bit puzzled, I was subscribed to you before, then one day I noticed I wasnt getting emails anymore, so here I am resubscribing, is it just me, or did something happen to the previous subscritions?

    • Yes, Peter, I think a whole lot of subscribers got culled when I tweaked something on the backend … Apologies. Welcome back!

  5. Hi there Tank. Do you have an email addy I can contact you on?

  6. Holiday?

    Hey Tank,

    With the announcement of the Super teams etc I was looking around for your thoughts?!?! Are you on holiday? I mean every man deserves a break and I will admit you did a fair amount writing in the last year so can understand writers cramp and all but for heaven sakes!!! THIS IS RUGBY, we are talking about. Its more important that topping up your tan at Dirty Dicks or eating a fast melting soft serve on Blouberg Strand.

    I for one am looking forward to what is going to be a very interesting season by all accounts.

    As a Stormers man myself I am almost loathe to admit, the Sharks might just smash over the line a few more times than other SA teams in 2014 and only because it will be interesting to see what will happen now that for once Jake White, arguably the best coach in the world is inheriting a team already packed with talent as opposed to having to pick up a team on death’s door for a change.

    I will none the less be once again be making Midnight Potjies and enjoy Brandy and Redbull to take in the late night games which will be televised here on the edge of the Aus Desert that is Perth.

    Good luck to you and your crew for the coming season (2014). And now get back to work…

    Big Vee

    • Hey Big Vee … Yep holiday! Traditionally take December and Jan off from rugby completely, but tend to get dragged back more quickly that I would like 🙂
      I think the Stormers will hack a little – having not recruited much at all and lost a few players. Seems they are keen to just hit the rewind and press play, while not doing much different. Will miss Eben up front …
      Agree re Sharks being the ones to watch. Smit and Jake = formidable combo! Good vibes in Durbs …
      Bulls will win a few but still a little raw. Cheetahs will upset a few, but end up making up the numbers (No Adriaanse!) … And the Lions, well the less said the better …
      Thanks for the kind (I think) words …

  7. I agree entirely re the Sharks. I dont know when last a Super team had two strategic thinking men guiding them. Surely they would be the envy of the franchises.

    Eben taking a break may just be the best thing for the guy I reckon. Hopefully he is given the opportunity to recover fully. The boring old scenario of rushing young talet back onto the field in order to gain some short term advantage has proven for too often to be a bad move and a long term loss. The guy still has a good 12 years of top filght game if he is managed correctly and I for one think SA has the making of a rugby legend in the guy.

    The Lions – Kings Game in Madibas Shack in Feb would be a good game to see as the grudges dont get much bigger in the “Wannabee” Category.

    As for the Stormers, If only Ally Coetzee could somehow get to be Nick Malletts new best mate and ask him an opinion and advice on everything to do with rugby, take that advice and implement it… Ag if only swaer…

    All in all I am dead excited for a good season of ruggers and hope this year really does buiild a great team for the 2015 WC in Pomtown.

  8. Hi Tank,

    Love your website, and especially your logo. Could you please introduce the logo designer.

    Would appreciate a great deal!


    • Thanks Dapsy. Very kind. It was done by a designer at Canterbury when we were on more friendly terms. I am afraid we are no longer in touch. Apologies.

  9. Hi Tank
    I apologize for contacting you on your private email. but I seem unable to comment below your blogs
    so, Here goes…………………

    What is your opinion of giving players a ten minute playing time (sometimes less) at the end of a test?
    What on earth can any player achieve in 10 minutes or less?
    or what can a coach learn about a players performance in such a short time, that he does not already know.

    It confuses me even more in the case of first time Springboks.
    Does a new player automatically gain a “cap” if he is selected into the 23 man squad?
    or does he have to physically cross the chalk line onto the playing field to earn this honour?

    And if it is the latter – Why give away Springbok jerseys so cheaply for ten minutes work?

    If for instance Marnits Boshoff gets injured, or something, and never plays rugby again, then the Springbok rugby jersey has been earned for less than 5 minutes playing time.
    to me , this seems stupid!!!!

    Keep up the good work – I enjoy your blogs.


    Johan Wagner

    • Hi Johan

      It infuriates me no end!!

      But yes, you only get a cap if you play. Hence these 8 minute or less stints.

      Same with Nyakane last weekend. I see absolutely no point in these stints.

      If you are going to use your bench, use it properly and give the guy 25 minutes.

      Coaches feel guilty though, and feel obliged to give players game time.

  10. Hi Tank.

    Like your column.

    Your recent post “What a waste of SARU clout” is interesting. I would just like to draw your attention to a contention of Noam Chomsky on the matter of CONTENT and FILLER with respect to television.

    He contends that in this case, the “content” would be advertising and that rugby would be “filler”.

    This gives one the perspective to see why the players are treated as a commodity, used ruthlessly and discarded if injured.

    Keep up the interesting discussions.



    • Hah! That is fantastic! What an interesting notion … Speaks EXACTLY to the point re money causing the people managing the game to actually be damaging it in the chase for said cash!

  11. Hi Tank

    There is so much written that I am sure you don’t get a chance to read it all.

    If you have not seen this article, it is a good read.

    It would seem that England are going to be a handful this month.

    Still enjoying you column.



  12. Dear Tank
    I enyoy your column ususally…
    Gcobani Bobo and I have written a rugby novel; we’d like to send you a free copy.
    Send me your postal adress if you’d like to receive it.

  13. Dear Tank,

    I trust you are well and sorry to worry. Am a huge fan!

    I am a freelance sports columnist who specializes in rugby. I would like to inquire if you can advise me on how to get a paid rugby column somewhere, somehow.

    I have very unique and original views and already write for popular Hong Kong based “The Sport Freak”. Also for Sport24 (but no pay sadly) and even SA Football.

    Below is some of my work: you may have seen these already

    I have some great ideas for future columns that fans will love. Being an Indian writing about rugby, I have quite a few fans on social media and will help grow any site or blog (with my marketing background).

    Hoping for a favorable outcome.

    Dhirshan Gobind.

    • Hi Dhirshan. Thanks for this. Also saw your “5 ways to fix the Boks” piece, which was great, and love the stuff on The Sport Freak. I think we have become altogether too PC in SA, but one can understand the reasons why. We have sensitivities that actually preclude people from saying what they want to say. While I would be happy to guest publish on FRG, I am afraid this is just a hobby for me, so would also not be able to offer hard cash. Keep plugging though … Perhaps start your own blog and control your own destiny?

  14. Hi Tank, we spoke briefly on Twitter regarding our overseas leg of the Championship and our only chance being at Loftus….

    Breyten Paul’s came under fire for his tweet saying the Boks don’t understand the game plan yet. Fans are also criticised of being to harsh. New coach, new team, new environment….

    Toetie has been at the helm since April 12. Has around a 60% success rate. Look at Eddie Jones, 7 months at the helm. Turned England around to win 9 from 9 including beating the Aussies 3-0. New coach, new players and new environment. Difference?

    Are us supporters really too critical or are we being bullied into accepting mediocrity?

    • Top question Darren. And this week 2 columns telling people to wind their necks in on Twitter. I have a feeling you will enjoy my column on Sport24 this week. It speaks to players needing to take a concrete pill because this digital revolution is only at the start line 🙂

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