Paarl Boys’ coach Sean Erasmus should be applauded for the school’s amazing run over the past two and a half seasons, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
The South African schools rugby system produces an embarrassment of player riches, but it’s not often that it unearths a coach who has the ability to further his career at a higher level.
Jake White was one, and Erasmus may be another.
Under his guidance, Paarl Boys’ High went on an unprecedented 44-game winning streak from the start of 2015 to early in the 2017 season. It made them the undisputed No 1 team in South Africa in that period.
Erasmus began his coaching career at Glenwood High in Durban, during which time he was also involved with the Sharks Academy and Sharks U19 side. There he brought out the best in impressionable young kids, on and off the field, and achieved solid performances with a limited player pool.
When Erasmus left Glenwood for Boishaai at the end of the 2013 season, because he needed ‘a different challenge’, it sent tremors through the schools rugby community and raised eyebrows about his credentials. Would a man in the infancy of his coaching career meet the high expectations of a school this rich in rugby tradition and history?
Three years later and Erasmus has exceeded all expectations, and helped write a famous new chapter in the school’s rugby history.
Erasmus was not only focused on the 1st XV when he arrived in Paarl. As part of a succession plan, he worked closely with all the teams at the school and it showed in 2016. After a rampant undefeated 2015 campaign, a new-look Paarl Boys’ 1st XV was expected to be vulnerable at the start of the 2016 season. And yet Erasmus’ boys went on to exceed their 2015 points tally by 79, and concede 15 fewer points in their second full unbeaten campaign.
As streaks go, the more a team wins, the more attention is placed on the achievement. And the Paarl Boys’ High players benefited from that attention, with the school producing 16 Craven Week players in 2015 and 2016 and 13 SA Schools representatives.
And yet, despite what these kids have accomplished with him as their mentor, Erasmus continuously credits everyone else with their success. Whether it’s the players, assistant coaches or supporters, he will be first to tell you they are the reason for the victories.
Earlier this year, as South African schools teams were preparing for the Easter festivals, news broke that Boishaai’s streak had ended with a 38-36 defeat to Christchurch Boys’ in the final game of their New Zealand tour.
Since then, the focus has shifted to Grey College, who are yet to suffer defeat this year and are currently ranked No 1, but we should still be applauding Erasmus, even though he is not the type who seeks recognition.
When Erasmus joined Paarl Boys’, he brought with him a contagious winning mentality. And whether he wants to admit it or not, he is the main reason behind Boishaai’s dominance.
Perhaps now that he has achieved so much in schools rugby, he needs a ‘different challenge’, this time at a higher level.