Impressive Kearsney record in UK rugby

2013-06-25 00:00

IT is likely to be the first time that two boys from the same school outside the United Kingdom have formed part of a British and Irish Lions squad at the same time.

Brad Barritt (25) and Matt Stevens (29), both Durban-born, were schooled at Kearsney College in KZN and are part of the touring Lions squad currently in Australia.

Last year, Barritt and Stevens made history when they were both selected for the England squad to play in the Six Nations clash against Scotland at Murrayfield in Edinburgh.

Barritt played first-team rugby for two years, captaining the side in his matric year. A hooker until U15, he was moved to centre and was selected for Craven Week, SA Schools and the Sharks U19 in that position. Not only did he shine on the sports field, he was also head of house and achieved five distinctions in matric.

Barend Steyn, his first team coach at Kearsney, said he is “a most intelligent rugby player. His commitment and discipline were exemplary and he always put in extra time and effort”.

A play-maker and vice-captain of the Sharks, Barritt made a vivid impression at the age of 21, before joining Saracens. He had been a regular in the Sharks’ Super 14 and Currie Cup squads after his debut in 2006, with his direct running, physical edge, distribution skills and ability to control games.

The Sharks released him early from his contract that still had a year to run, in the interests of his own development as a player. Now playing for Saracens, Barritt said his old Kearsney war-cry “Jumela Jai Jumela Jai” is now sung at Saracens.

Stevens remains the most capped Kearsney player in the history of the school, having played in the first XV for four seasons, captaining in 2000 and 2001. At school, he was selected for KZN Craven week, SA Academy U18 (captain) and SA U19, and was head of house as well as head of choir.

Steyn remembers him as a very committed and strong scrummager, with extraordinary ball and running skills for a forward.

A former Bath player who now also plays for Saracens, Stevens can play on either side of the scrum. He had a meteoric rise into the England strata, made his debut against New Zealand nine years ago, and played in seven Rugby World Cup matches in 2007, including the final against South Africa when being used as a replacement for his captain Phil Vickery.

A forward of immense stature and a powerful runner with ball in hand, he joined Bath in 2002 after representing the Junior Springboks. Stevens has a B.Sc. in politics and economics from Bath University and reached the final of ITV’s Celebrity X-Factor, raising £125 000 (R1,5 million) for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

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