Bulls hooker Schalk Erasmus on his famous 50m penalty: 'I was always a Bull after that'

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Schalk Erasmus. (Blue Bulls Rugby)
Schalk Erasmus. (Blue Bulls Rugby)
  • Rookie Bulls hooker Schalk Erasmus' loyalty to his union's cause will never be in doubt as he became a young local legend himself at school.
  • It was the former Junior Springbok No 2 that led Limpopo Blue Bulls to one of their greatest triumphs - winning the Under-13 Craven Week with a 50m penalty ... as an eighthman. 
  • Erasmus' return to his spiritual rugby home hasn't been easy due to injury, but he's now ready to stake his claim.

Schalk Erasmus didn't stand much of a chance when it came to the team he'd be supporting for the rest of his life.

It comes with the territory when you're born-and-bred in Lephalale.

Limpopo is indisputably the heartland of grassroots rugby in Blue Bulls country as it's reliably estimated that clubs in the province travel no less than 700 000km collectively to attend training sessions, excluding matches.

Wearing the Barberton Daisy on the lefthand side of hischest was always going to be the 22-year-old former Junior Springbok hooker's dream.

But Erasmus, lured back to Loftus by Jake White last year from Western Province, truly planted his roots up north way back in 2011 ... in one of the most thrillingly freakish ways possible.

Playing eighthman for Limpopo Blue Bulls at that year's Under-13 Craven Week at Affies - ironically his future high school - he and his unfashionable team-mates unexpectedly made the unofficial final of the tournament, against the mighty Western Province.

It proved a gritty affair as Limpopo, trailing 5-6 with roughly two minutes left, were awarded a penalty.

Logic would've dictated that they go for touch as they'd been camping on the halfway-line, but Erasmus took the ball and pointed to the posts.

He was going to kick.

As Gideon 'Giepa' Pelzer, one of Limpopo's coaches at the tournament, told Sport24 last year, Erasmus wasn't exactly unfamiliar with place-kicking duties as he'd been a flyhalf for most of his primary school years.

READ | New Bulls recruit: The day Schalk Erasmus kicked a 50m penalty ... as a No 8

"I was very young," Erasmus said with a chuckle on Wednesday.

"You're actually all over the show in terms of positions at that age. You're sort of still figuring out where you really fit in! But yeah, I immediately thought to myself that I can nail this kick.

"I had actually been practicing my kicking beforehand and I was pretty sure distance wouldn't be a problem.

"I hit it well luckily, it went over and we won 8-6."

13-year-old Schalk Erasmus celebrates his winning

                                          13-year-old Schalk Erasmus celebrates his winning kick. (Gallo Images)

That stroke of genius immortalised Erasmus and co, the boys that spearheaded one of the crowning achievements of a sub-union big on heart but thin on consistent success.

And it was a moment that truly tightened his spiritual bond with the Bulls.

"It was an unbelievable day for a 13-year-old. I was so privileged to experience it," said Erasmus.

"I was so proud. From a young age I started supporting the Bulls and to achieve a feat like that, especially against Province, really made my heart grow fonder for this union.

"More importantly, I believe that moment helped prepare me early in general for handling pressure situations better. When it's on, you have to stand up and be counted."

It's little wonder then that White was so keen to recruit the highly-rated No 2 because he embodies two characteristics that the Bulls' director of rugby treasures.

Erasmus is a traditionalist, a man who loves the Bulls' heritage, and he can handle tight spots on the field with aplomb.

Yet it hasn't been all plain sailing for him since moving back from Newlands.

Injuries put paid to his plan to establish himself as a top dog in last season's wildly successful campaign and that has seen fellow rookie hookers Johan Grobbelaar and Joe van Zyl stake their claims pertinently.

He's not troubled by that.

"We have a great group of young hookers. Each of them have their own special qualities," said Erasmus.

"The competition is positive. We push each other hard, but we're also each others' biggest fans. It's a good dynamic."

Powerful yet deceptively athletic, Erasmus doesn't believe he needs to pull a whole host of rabbits out of the hat to convince White that he should be a first-choice candidate in his position.

In fact, with a trip to Europe in the Rainbow Cup looming next month, the best course of action might be to just keep things simple.

"It's important as a hooker to do the basics well. To be consistent in the scrums and lineouts is a good platform to work from," said Erasmus.

"That said, there's room for individualism. In my experience, every hooker has his own unique set of skills that he brings to a game, whether it be at the breakdown or being a strong carrier or defending ruthlessly. You need to showcase your way of adding value, whatever that may be."

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