Former Springbok flank Francois Louw believes that the joy of playing schoolboy rugby is often missed out on due to the level of expectations and emphasis on results.
The 2019 World Cup-winning flank attended Bishops Diocesan College in Cape Town and played for their 1st XV in 2002 and 2003.
As the grandson of former Springbok and Western Province lock Jan Pickard, there would have plenty of expectation of Louw during his schoolboy rugby days. He did not, however, manage to play in any of Western Province’s schoolboy teams – which is often seen as an important stepping stone in making it as a professional.
In an interview with Matthew Pearce for SuperSport, Louw said that while he was disappointed not to have played in the U18 Craven Week, he was still able to keep an open mind and move on from that disappointment.
‘I think, to be quite honest, schoolboy rugby is taken too seriously in terms of expectations, results and sometimes the game is not enjoyed for what it is,’ Louw said. ‘I remember the pressure at school as a rugby player.
‘I was a decent player and wanted to perform at the highest level. I think there was a certain expectancy for me to perform at the highest level and make those teams but having gone to U13 Craven Week trials and then at U19 as well, not making the final squads, it was a big disappointment for me. I set my standards pretty high and set out to achieve them. So, not being able to achieve those for whatever reason as a young schoolboy there was a bit of disappointment.
‘It could have been a setback but it depends how you look at it. I have always tried to keep quite an open-minded outlook towards things. If it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be.
‘The beauty about rugby is that it doesn’t matter what team you play for, whether you play for the U19E team for the first team. You are having an awesome time with your mates, playing a big game, trying to do something special in a split second in any fixture. That’s what really counts at the end of the day.
‘Obviously, there is that professionalism side, there is that area of the game that you want to go into. But at school it wasn’t meant to be, I suppose. I continued playing as best I could and that obviously took me to Stellenbosch University.’
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