Hillcrest lad selected for prestigious rugby team

2016-12-06 06:01
Photo: suppliedFormer Kearsney old-boy and Hillcrest-local, James Hall, has been selected for the Saffas Euro XV Rugby Team this month based on his performance for French team, Oyonnax. James has also played for the Southern Kings Super Rugby Squad and the Junior Springboks this year

Photo: suppliedFormer Kearsney old-boy and Hillcrest-local, James Hall, has been selected for the Saffas Euro XV Rugby Team this month based on his performance for French team, Oyonnax. James has also played for the Southern Kings Super Rugby Squad and the Junior Springboks this year

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HILLCREST local and Kearsney old-boy James Hall (20), currently playing for Oyonnax team in the French Pro D2 League, has been selected for SA Rugby Magazine’s Saffas Euro XV team; a South African team chosen based on their performance in European clubs during the month of October. The Saffas Euro XV team includes a number of well-known local players including Gio Aplon, Jaco Taute, Brad Barritt, Pat Howard, Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen and Flip van der Merwe.

For James, the road to achieving his rugby career dreams has been full of challenges; a path that many young players face when taking their passion for rugby to greater heights.

James has achieved many of his goals since he left school including playing in the Currie Cup, Super 18 and the IRB Junior World Championship. James admits that it is not easy to get noticed and believes that, through sharing his experiences with the country’s young talent, he can provide an insight on what it takes. James’ passion for rugby began at Durban Preparatory High School (DPHS) where he began playing the sport and following his favourite professional players. At aged 13, James had achieved his first rugby goal; to play in the Under-13 Craven Week. This achievement only fuelled James’ passion for the game and drove him to set his next rugby goal; he wanted to play in the Under-18 Craven Week.

“Like many young players, James has had a love for the game from an early age. The stories he heard about his favourite players and starting at DPHS from a young age gave him the passion for the game,” says James’ proud father, Anthony Hall. James’ high school rugby career at Kearsney College took his game to the next level by introducing him to Sevens Rugby; enabling him to become a more versatile player in his approach to the game.

He just couldn’t enough of the game and, in July 2013, the young scrumhalf heard about an Advanced Players Course where he was able to learn from his rugby icons at The Investec International Rugby Academy.

“I really enjoyed the fact that you are exposed to a professional environment where you receive coaching from the highest levels. The academy showed me what is expected of me to make it to the top. It also guided me in the right direction to achieve my rugby goals,” says James. The academy recognised James’ potential and named him best backline player in attendance. He recalls his favourite coach at the academy, former Springbok and Wallabies Kicking Coach Braam van Straaten.

“Braam taught me so much during my time there and we also got along very well,” says James. James’ father, Anthony Hall, couldn’t be more delighted with his son’s achievements. He attributes many of his achievements to the coaches at the academy. “James came away a far more focused kid and with a better technical ability. He decided to work that much harder to reach his goals,” says Hall. After having understood what he need to work on in order to achieve his goals at the academy, James began to progress even further than he had imagined.

Within three short years, he had managed to play for the 2014 KZN Under-18 Craven Week team, the Under-19 EP Kings team in 2015, the Southern Kings Super Rugby Squad early this year and the Junior Springboks in the 2016 IRB World Rugby Championship.

“I will always treasure the first time I ran out for my first Super Rugby game and the feeling when they selected me for the Junior Springboks. It was an unbelievable feeling to represent South Africa; it is every sportsman’s dream to represent their country,” says James. James recently signed a contract with French team, Oyonnax, and has been playing there for six months. The team has is currently running for promotion to the Top 14 in 2017. James has played in nine of the team’s ten games; with an injury preventing him from playing in all the games. “I really enjoy playing for Oyonnax; it is an awesome experience playing in France and learning new skills.

I have very supportive teammates and coaches which is, ultimately, what every rugby player wants,” says James.

My dream is to one day play for the Springboks,” says a patriotic James. James encourages young players to make the most of opportunities like the Investec International Rugby Academy in order to achieve their rugby goals.

“A young player couldn't receive better coaching than what is on offer at the academy. It also shows you what is needed to get to where you want to get in your rugby career,” says James. James’ father agrees and urges parents to support their sons in their dreams. “For an aspiring player who has shown ability and is willing to listen and learn,

The Investec International Rugby Academy’s course are for him. He gets the best coaching from the top coaches in the country and in some cases, abroad,” says Hall. James shares his advice with young players hoping to go far in their passion for rugby. “Always believe in yourself and if you want it badly enough and you are prepared to work for it, it will happen. Always give every practice and game your all and work hard in your extra time to become a better player. I still have this mind-set today,” says James.

The Investec International Rugby Academy’s Players’ and Coaches’ Courses take place from 10 to 16 December at St Charles College in Pietermaritzburg. For more information or to book, visit www.investecacademy.comor contact Bernadine on (031) 940 5565.

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