OLLIE KEOHANE chats to Paarl Boys’ coach Sean Erasmus ahead of their match against Rondebosch on Saturday.
Is Paarl Boys’ run of 34 successive wins motivating or emotionally draining for the team?
It’s a long season and you have to overcome many challenges before you can call yourself unbeaten. We don’t focus on that winning run as a team, but rather on being better each weekend and on detail.
The Western Province team that won the unofficial Craven Week final last week was dominated by your boys. Has it been a challenge to get their focus back to a schools fixture? How difficult is that first match back after the break?
The boys made the school and province very proud with their performance. Head coach Elmo Wolfaardt did a great job of planning and executing that Western Province campaign. I think the most important part is managing sore bodies. The boys are already pretty focused and determined to reach the goals we have set out at the start of the season. This is a great bunch of young men who have a strong will and solid mental approach to each weekend’s game. The team is raring to go and eager to get back on the field as a family again.
Rondebosch are a very physical side and traditionally always competitive against the Paarl sides. What threat will they pose on Saturday?
Every team has quality and you can’t underestimate anyone, we certainly don’t.
What is the key to your success as a coach?
I believe a coach is only as good as his players. I like to invest time in people’s lives on and off the field. Discipline and having a sound team ethos that the players value is vital. I believe in teaching boys about faith and the good values of life – manners, being humble etc. First improve and better the person and then work hard to help him reach goals. I have always made sure I surround myself and the team with people who care about and are there for the boys. At Boishaai, I have Elmo Wolfaardt and David Sadie who coach with me, conditioning coach Ryno Rust, physio Anzel Brink, team doctor Dr Kobus Uys, running coach Tania Malherbe and kicking coach Conrad Barnard. All of them passionate about the team. Add the support from school coaches, staff, old boys, parents and supporters and I feel you are heading the right way. Don’t forget the value of a good captain and leadership group. With unity anything is possible.
How do you rate the standard of the Western Cape schools league?
I have said it many times, and will say it again – with respect to all the other leagues, I think the Western Cape league must be one of the toughest if not the toughest in South Africa. It’s ‘Test’ rugby every weekend in different weather conditions and against top schools. In her book Springbok Factory, author Liz McGregor mentions a survey done in 2012 that revealed there are 446 rugby-playing primary schools and 306 rugby-playing high schools in the Western Cape. That is massive and I think a huge indicator of the talent and toughness of Western Cape rugby.
Gianni Lombaard has been a goal-kicking machine for you this season and his boot has got you over the line on a few occasions. How special is he?
I think Gianni will be the first person to tell you that he is blessed to be in a team that creates so many scoring opportunities for him. Gianni is a talent for the future and works very hard to deliver what you see on the field. He puts in the extra hours and is very hard on himself to perform well. He’s a great young man.
In which areas can you improve as a team?
We still have loads to improve on and during every video session we are very critical of our performances. We will keep focusing on the details and what we know we can do well. Off the field we would like to keep being good role models, that is very hard for youngsters but I’m proud of the effort the boys have put in. Our team slogan ETFG [every try for God] keeps us focused and centered with our feet on the ground. We still have lots of hard work ahead this season, but we are extremely motivated and focused on doing the hard yards for each other.
Western Cape fixtures (23 July):
Brackenfell vs Hermanus
Paul Roos vs Wynberg
Bishops vs Boland Landbou
Oakdale vs Paarl Gym
Paarl Boys’ vs Rondebosch
Strand High vs HS Swartland
De Kuilen vs Stellenberg
Durbanville High vs Worcester Gym
Bellville vs SACS
Photo: Peter Heeger/Gallo Images