Vintage lock’s rugby dream comes true out of the blue

2010-12-10 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG product Shaun van Wyk thought his childhood dream to play for the Springboks had ended a decade ago in the United States, where he suffered a career-ending injury playing Super League Rugby for a Washington club.

But 10 years later Van Wyk (37), originally from Woodlands, was called up to represent the Springbok Legends against the English Legends. The match was played at The Stoop in Twickenham, England, on November 26. The Bok Legends won 14-7.

The Witness caught up with Van Wyk, who owns a London-based business and is a European marketing director for a global medical company.

“I develop and implement marketing strategies for all our western European markets. I was always encouraged to study hard and become a professional, as sport offers no guarantees,” said Van Wyk.

He started playing rugby when he was 10 at Cordwalles Preparatory School after a teacher, Trevor Barnes, now manager of the Natal Sharks, introduced him to the game.

“I have always loved all sports. I think that I was more determined than talented in some of the sports, but I had a huge will to win …” he said.

He said playing for the Boks was sheer luck because he has only played a few charity matches in London in the past few years.

“The Boks had just done a tour of Argentina, and due to injury they needed a lock who is of a certain vintage and who had played at representative level. Someone who I have played with in the charity match recommended me to the Boks. We got talking about my rugby past, and I was invited to play,” said Van Wyk.

He says he had played with a few of the team members on the Natal ‘A’ and Natal Wildebeest sides in the late 1990s, so it was easy to slot in.

Van Wyk said he had played with the likes of Robbie Kempson, Trevor Halstead and Ryan Strudwick. “I was very excited. I was in Germany on business when I got the call. For me it was the realisation of a dream a decade after my dream was ended due to an injury,” said Van Wyk.

Among the highlights of his career was playing for the Natal Wildebeests, playing Super League Rugby in the U.S., completing the Argus cycle tour and, last month, playing for the Springbok Legends.

Van Wyk said he would not be where he is today if it were not for his father, Percy van Wyk, who completed 14 Comrades Marathons and seven Dusi Canoe Marathons.

“My father is my role model, a good businessman and a mentor who always encouraged me to do my best.”

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