At 2.03m and 107kg, Paarl Gym lock JD Schickerling is one of the tallest and strongest South African schoolboy rugby players.
In his debut 1st XV season in 2012, Schickerling was a star performer for Paarl Gym, who won 15 and drew one of their 18 fixtures. He made his provincial debut for Western Province at the U18 Craven Week in Port Elizabeth, and did enough to earn SA Schools selection. The second rower started in all three U18 international wins over England, Wales and France.
‘I was very happy with what I achieved last year,’ says Schickerling. ‘I had never played provincial age-group rugby before, so I learned so much during my time with Western Province and SA Schools. Now I know what it takes to get into those teams and how to excel at higher levels.’
Schickerling was born in Calvinia in the Northern Cape and moved to Villiersdorp with his family at a young age. He attended De Villiers Graaff Primary School before enrolling at Paarl Gym.
Paarl Gym 1st XV coach Christoff Lötter says Shickerling will be a key member of his squad this season.
‘He makes such a big difference on the field. He’s big, strong and a very good leader. He’s the decision-maker at the lineouts and carries the ball really well. In terms of conditioning and size, he’s ready to play at higher levels. There isn’t much he’ll need to work on when he continues his rugby career after school. I believe he’ll only get better with experience.’
SA Schools coach Chris October says the 18-year-old’s athletic ability makes him a special talent.
‘JD showed huge promise last season,’ says October. ‘I don’t think he’s reached his true potential yet, but I’m confident he’ll do much better with the lessons he’s learned after playing junior provincial and international rugby.
‘His knowledge of lineout play impressed me and he does the basics really well. What makes him different to your average lock is that he’s a strong ball-carrier, who can break defences regularly.’
Schickerling hopes to play professional rugby after school, but at the time of writing, he hadn’t received an offer from Western Province.
‘I want to play Craven Week and make the SA Schools team again this year. Then I want to continue my rugby career after school,’ says Schickerling. ‘Western Province would definitely be my first choice; the Cape is home for me after all. I also want to study mechanical engineering.’
By Gareth Duncan
Photo: Luke Walker/Gallo Images
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