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Frozen fingers and family


Life in Bath continues to get easier each week, as I grow more accustomed to being far away from home, family and friends. But yes, it has been getting colder in England and having friends send me pictures on whatsapp of their surroundings while sitting on Clifton beach, doesn’t help me get used to the cold. Neverteless, I’m certainly enjoying my new home city.

I have decided to name my newly acquired Jeep Wrangler after one of my favourite players. ‘Tendai’ seems a wholly appropriate name because the vehicle is built like the beast – square. Every time I pull away it sounds like a stadium full of passionate Durbanites shouting ''Beeeeast!”

On Saturday, I took ‘Tendai’ to Cirencester, where my English family lives, about 45 minutes travelling at normal speed but an hour and a half travelling at fuel-saving speed. On the way back, I took the roof off because it was a sunny day, but by the time I got back to Bath it was about three degrees. Putting the roof back on with frozen fingers was not an easy task.

Spending time with my family in Cirencester made me appreciate anew what a privilege it is to have family on a different continent. My late grandfather, Peter Köster, fresh out of Bishops in 1959, attended the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, where he met my grandmother. He passed away last year aged 73, which made going to visit his alma mater on Sunday an emotional experience. I saw where he ate his meals, the common room in which he played pool, and the rugby field where he plied his trade as a lock.

I was reminded of the legacy that Oupie left for his children and grandchildren: the example of love, honour and hard work he set that is indelibly instilled in me, and the wonderful memories of times spent together that I cherish so dearly. The baton has now been passed on to me as it were, and it is my turn to run with it. I shall do everything I can to honour his memory.

''He was always the last one to get up from the scrum,'' my grandmother's sister remarked, as we stood on the touchline looking over the rugby field. Oups, I can't follow that example, as Gary Gold's stats will show me up, but I am proud of your legacy and will do what I can to do it justice.

One man who is leaving a legacy in Bath is Michael Claassens. He played eight tests for South Africa and came over to England ahead of the 2007/08 season. On Friday night, Mikey played his 150th match for Bath – a massive achievement. He is the epitome of a gentleman, as close to the perfect human being as you could find. He has been hugely helpful to me in my first few weeks here. He reckons his English vocabulary has increased from about 20 words when he arrived in Bath to being pretty fluent in the language now!

The Stormers start their pre-season training on Thursday. I'm sure it will entail gruelling hard work, but pre-seasons in Cape Town are never too depressing. Talking of the Stormers, I must share with you that Gio (Aplon) and Stacy have called their beautiful little daughter Gia – sure to cause some confusion in their household in the coming years. Her mom was a sprinter in her day and we all know Gio doesn't pull a caravan, so Gia has the potential to outrun mom and dad one day!

Since I was with my English family on Saturday afternoon, we flicked between the England-Australia game and the SA-Scotland match. Consequently, my opinion on the Bok performance is not as well informed as it may have been had I watched the full 80 minutes.

From what I saw, we enjoyed first-half superiority which unfortunately was not translated into the points we deserved, and then defended superbly in the second half. It may have been an unspectacular victory, but looked a comfortable enough win in the end.

I’m looking forward to the grand finale of the southern hemisphere season at Twickenham this weekend, and with England under pressure following their loss to Australia, it promises to be an attritional battle. I thought England played some good rugby against Australia and were probably unlucky not to get the win. Squandered opportunities cost them victory.

After the draw in the last test in Port Elizabeth, England will surely be confident that they can pull it through. However, with the Boks' recent form at Twickenham, the power upfront and tight defence, I would be surprised if the Boks do not win. But it will be close.

I’ll be attending the game and very much look forward to watching my first match at Twickenham. I’ll report back on the atmosphere next week.

Please leave any questions in the comments section below; I'll include the answers in next week's blog.


Nic on his way back from a family visit
Nic with his two cousins


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