For many years (while playing, and even until recently) I have struggled with the tension of being proud of that achievement and reaching what others around me only dreamt of, and the incessant feeling that I never belonged. I struggled with associating myself with the red daisy. I rejected being bundled together with the images of the supporters.
That week stretched and grew me as a player and a person. All of us face trials and pressures in life. We sometimes encounter them and define them as problems and not regard them as opportunities to grow. I never understood at the time what the necessity and real value of academic tests and examinations (in school) were for, and why or how they were actually for my benefit.
One of the first games in that 1999 season was a fixture against Michaelhouse. It was in the early years of televised schools games of Maritzburg College . This was in the early days of televised school rugby games. At that time I was not selected for the 1st XV team, but for the 2nd XV. Playing for the second side was still a worthy achievement, but not the chief prize.
One morning, at my new school of probably 3 months, we were required to select a sport for that new term. I had desperately hoped that soccer was one of the options, but alas…rugby and hockey (I think) were the choices. Wesley, a friend and class-mate suggested that I try rugby. “What’s that” I said. “Come to practice tomorrow and I’ll show you”. My response…“okay!”.