Morne Steyn’s boot will go down as one of the greatest in South African rugby history. But don’t be surprised if this year, as he returns to the Vodacom Bulls in Vodacom Super Rugby, Steyn is even deadlier with his kicks at goal. You see, for the world-class flyhalf, practice is never over, even when he gets home.
‘After a hard day at training at Loftus, when I get home all my boys want to do is go kicking in the backyard. But even though I’m tired, I love that quality time with them. They keep me busy,’ Steyn says of his two young boys Jovan and Christean.
The celebrated flyhalf is a devoted father and a strong supporter of the #BeAPresentDad movement that will be the focus of the upcoming Vodacom Father and Son Campout at his beloved Loftus Versfeld.
From 28-29 March, a gathering of fathers and sons from the Vodacom ONE Family will bond over their shared love of rugby and the Vodacom Bulls as they sleep in luxury tents on the main field at Loftus, and enjoy several games and activities together.
For Steyn, the event is a perfect fit for a union he believes perfected the art of family in a team environment, and which he now returns to after six years in France.
‘It’s great to be back. I never thought I’d play Super Rugby again, and be back at the Bulls again. It’s awesome. It’s a great bunch of guys we have here, and the coaching staff is awesome. You know, my family was with me in France and the kids went to school there and so on. But it’s great to be back in my old house and everything’s back to normal again.’
Steyn’s homecoming to the Bulls is significant in that he believes strongly in the family culture the union has created over the years, and which he says was the backbone of their Super Rugby triumphs in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
‘At that time, the family atmosphere in the Vodacom Bulls was exactly the reason for our success. We were a very tight team and family. Hopefully we can do the same and build the same environment at the Vodacom Bulls now and start another couple of good years for the team.’
But Steyn is also doing his best not to think too far into what his future may hold – a lesson he hopes to also teach his sons.
‘Life is so short. I’m just taking it day-by-day and enjoying every day, and I want the same for them. They must have the freedom to just enjoy life and make the best out of everything, and give everything a chance. Whether it’s sport or anything else, take a chance and see if you like it – take every moment and just enjoy life.’
Steyn is very much a present dad whenever he can be, and even when the game takes him away from home.
‘It’s tough to spend three or four weeks away from my family, especially with my kids growing up so quickly. You miss a lot of their sport or school activities. With the technology we have these days it’s much easier to stay in touch with my children through video calls and voice calls. It’s easier than in previous years.
‘But you know, if you’re away on tour and you have a child that’s maybe ill or something isn’t right with one of them, it’s not easy. I try and separate that from my rugby when I play, but family is always first for me.’
When he is home, and not being hauled out into the backyard for more kicking practice with his sons, he loves nothing more than doing the things every boy loves.
‘We go camping with our boys. They love the freedom, and fishing and canoeing on a river, and sleeping in tents – real boy stuff. We did the same when I was a kid. We camped a lot with our family caravan.’
And now back in South Africa, Steyn the dad also finds time to be Steyn the son with his own father. Much like his boys, Steyn says he loves nothing more than to drag his dad outside. But not to kick a rugby ball.
‘I have a very close relationship with my dad. When I go back to Bloemfontein to visit my parents, my dad and I always go cycling. Those are special times for me. It’s good to be home.’