Old Andrean Southern Kings reminisce about their roots
In many ways, Southern Kings team-mates Tyler Paul and Ross Geldenhuys are polar opposites.
The former is an academyproduced utility forward - comfortable at lock and flanker - who is just making his Super Rugby breakthrough. The latter, meanwhile, is a prop nearing his 34th birthday with a Super Rugby title to his name already.
In our interviews, Paul seemed relatively reserved, while Geldenhuys appeared totally at ease.
However, the two share more than just the shirt they wear on Super Rugby weekends. Both are Old Andreans from Upper House. Geldenhuys matriculated in 2002, while Paul finished in 2013 - but there were striking similarities in the two players’ accounts of their respective spells at the school.
Paul credited St Andrew’s for having instilled humility in him, while Geldenhuys re- called how the grade-based hierarchy among pupils taught him discipline.
Unsurprisingly, the fondest memories for both of them were made on the sporting field.
For Paul, the rugby and cricket games he played stood out. Geldenhuys, meanwhile, recalled singing before rugby matches.
Paul made his Super Rugby debut for the Kings against the Jaguars in February, coming off the bench in a 39-26 defeat.
Asked about the experience, the humility he said he had learned at St Andrew’s began to show.
“I came off the bench, so I didn’t get straight into it, but once I did, it was good fun,” he said.
At 22, Paul looks set for a lot more fun in his career. Like many young South African Super Rugby players, he dreams of playing for the Springboks. However, for now, he is taking each game as it comes.
By contrast, Geldenhuys is a far more seasoned campaigner and the Kings are by no means the most prestigious team that he has played for.
However, despite his age, he relishes conquering the unknown. Two years after his Super Rugby title with the Highlanders, his environment could hardly be more different. If a move from a recent titlewinning side to Southern Kings might have seemed unattractive to some players, Geldenhuys was certainly not one of them.
“I wanted a challenge and I fight for a dream. I want to play at the highest level. I just want to play rugby. I love the sport, and here at the Kings, I’m fortunate enough to play,” he said.
For St Andrew’s youngsters looking to emulate Geldenhuys and Paul and turn professional, Geldenhuys had some sound advice: “When there’s a small light at the end of the tunnel, just chase it, and put everything you’ve got into that dream.”