Utility back Damian Willemse’s call-up to the Springbok squad has brought the number of Paul Roos alumni featuring at the 2019 Rugby World Cup up to a record six players.
South Africa’s initial 31-man squad boasted four Paul Roos old boys in hooker Schalk Brits, fullback Willie le Roux, prop Steven Kitshoff and scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies, while a fifth player – flank Braam Steyn – was named in the Italy squad. Now, with the addition of Willemse, the prestigious Stellenbosch-based school has a record six representatives at the tournament.
From a Springbok point of view, the oldest player in the squad is Brits (38) and the youngest is Willemse (21). The 17-year age gap between the pair means that Brits matriculated when Willemse was only one year old – proof that the heroes you look up to might one day become your teammates.
Some of these Paul Roos old boys also have a few things in common: Kitshoff and Steyn matriculated in the same year and both featured for the South African U20 team in 2012, while Brits and Willemse both played for English giants Saracens.
Paul Roos Gymnasium recently extended its advantage at the top of the list of schools with the most Boks when Jantjies became the institution’s 54th Springbok after making his debut against the Wallabies in Johannesburg earlier this year.
The head coaches involved in the rugby careers of these players while they were students at Paul Roos, were Jacques Hanekom, Frans van Niekerk, Dawie Snyman, Hein Kriek and Stephan Jordaan.