The drive into Newlands is a famous one. It’s a short, narrow, undulating passage giving, what I suppose might be, a similar experience to the parting of the Red Sea, with the only difference being that it’s an ocean of people this time around.
I know most guys don’t, but I like to stare at them as we drive through them at a snail’s pace. Perhaps the “salutes” from the Stormers’ Faithful are too intimidating for some, but you also get the odd courageous, yet very inebriated Bulls’ supporter bellowing some sort of a war cry in between the riot.
I do fall in love about a thousand times too – the Cape folk certainly didn’t just perfect the art of making wine. I remember this one particular damsel who had on a white tank top, or at least for a while…
All in all the experience is pretty amazing – driving through that half-a-block.
Newlands is a lady that not a lot of people ever get the chance to dance with, yet what makes this even more special, on a personal level, is that it’s the only girl I’ve ever shared a dance with, with my brother.
Unfortunately his maiden voyage was also his one and only one. The Stormers’ opposition on the day was the Chiefs, and his opposition was cancer. He was their mascot.
The Stormers went on to win the battle, but he lost his later that year.
He was six years old, and a 14-year old Dewie sat in the stands, wearing black from head to toe, as was the custom back then, cheering him on as he reached for his dream. It took me seven more years to reach mine in Super Rugby – incidentally on that very field. A year later I became captain of the Emerging Boks, drawing against the British and Irish Lions. The following year, I played my first Springbok test match on home soil. All of the abovementioned on that field…
The coach didn’t really have to say a word to me – memories sufficed to get the red stuff pumping. Right before the warm-up I went and sat next to Gary Botha in his little cubicle, without any real reason. I suppose I was looking for some sort of closeness. He looked at me and said: “I don’t know why I’m so emotional tonight, my body is shaking.” I looked at him and said: “Don’t worry, I think it’s mine.”
It’s tricky enough to execute my trademark goosestep as I run out onto the field under normal circumstances, but at Newlands it is infinitely harder – the tunnel leading to the field has a potent incline, but as soon as I got through that I knew I was going to be fine.
It was like playing in a test match. In fact, during my brief stint of six appearances in green and gold I haven’t once played in a game with that amount of intensity. We gave each other nothing, and although I suspect that some people will dub it as being boring, it’s the best kind of boring I’ve ever been a part of. Actually, that’s about as good as the experience gets for a rugby player.
I just love it when things work. We were pretty good in enforcing our game plan. Like I said last week – other teams appear to have their worst game of their season against us when we’re at our best, and while we definitely weren’t at our best on Saturday, we did manage to disrupt them a bit. Some things never change, like the importance of first phase possession and minimising unforced errors – especially at this stage of the season.
If we continue to get those things right, we’ll be competitive.
After the game we met up with guys like Schalk Burger and Francois Louw, and we had a great time. As much as I love playing against Schalk, I love it more to hang out with him afterwards. My roommate – the very talented and very awesome Derick Kuun , along with Schalk and I, represented ourselves admirably, and we ended up sharing a cab back to our hotel with him and his fiancée, Michelle, at the end of the night after walking around the town like we owned the streets…
It was a great weekend, but I reckon I would have turned Jannie Jammergat if Bryan scored the try at the end. This made me appreciate Schalk’s gesture of coming out with me afterwards all the more.
I arrived at my place on Sunday with the unenviable task of picking up Zsa Zsa (my bulldog) from my parents’ house. Don’t get me wrong – I missed her like crazy, but I knew that the reception on her part was going to be a letdown for me. Indeed, it was...
First, my mother had held the phone to her ear on the Friday night before the game so that I could talk to her, and I was ignored flat, and I imagine that her tail started wagging as soon as my mom put the phone down. Then I was told that, on the Saturday, the only time she had slept during the day was between the hours of six and eight that night, obviously not interested in watching my game.
Apparently she must have woken up for a couple of minutes in between, and later, when I asked her what her thoughts were, she seemed to be of the opinion that the colour of my hair was noticeable. I immediately thanked her for this rare compliment. She then intimated that I should not interrupt her, and continued by implying that it was noticeably a bad shade of yellow, which in turn amplifies the redness of my face. I don’t know if I was successful in hiding the tears.
How am I supposed to function at an optimal level with this kind of mental backup? Still, I continue to be optimistic about our relationship.
The eight of us that aren’t part of the Springbok group assembled in the auditorium on Monday morning, and I imagined that that would be what it will feel like next year without the seniors. However, I didn’t spend more than a second thinking about that. I’m just looking forward to meeting up with the rest of the guys tomorrow and starting the preparation for the weekend‘s clash against the Sharks. It’s a sell-out crowd, and the last game to form a part of the regular season, with everything to play for.
Winner takes all, for a week…