Junior Boks loose forward Dylan Richardson chats about the recent World Championships in Argentina, his future plans and South African youngsters playing abroad. Interview by: SHAUN GOOSEN.
What are some of your earliest rugby memories?
I started playing rugby when I was about nine. I played in primary school and managed to play in the U13 Craven Week, that is where I was recognised by Kearsney College. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to attend Kearsney and some of my best memories come from there, playing with my mates. It was absolutely awesome.
What are some of your career lows?
Looking back to my second year playing SA Schools in 2017, obviously it’s every rugby player’s dream to represent their country and I was extremely proud to be there; but it was a tough year for us. We lost three out of three [against Wales, France and England], but it was a big learning curve for me. I realised what international rugby was all about and the standards I had to set, but that was definitely a low for me.
And the highs so far?
Last year’s U19 Currie Cup was awesome. From the coaches to the players, it was just an amazing experience. We went through the whole tournament unbeaten, so I was really proud of that. Looking to the U20 World Championship we just came back from, we had a great group of guys, awesome coaches, and it was just amazing to go to Argentina and experience such a tough tournament. Also getting my first Super Rugby cap was truly special, something I dreamed about as a kid and something that still feels surreal. I can’t describe the feeling.
You made your Super Rugby debut against the Lions in May. Did you expect to play in the tournament so early on in your career?
It was something I’d been working towards, but I could only hope that I’d get a cap this year. I was really stoked when it happened, but now I’m just focusing on trying to create more opportunities like that.
You played a big part in lifting South Africa to a bronze medal finish in the recent U20 Championships in Argentina. What was the vibe like in the squad?
The vibe was amazing. Together as a group we needed to go through some tough times, and I think the boys just supported each other and everyone had the bigger goal in mind. The training camps weren’t easy. We really had to work hard, but I think it brought all of us together. We definitely created memories and I’m sure lots of us will remember one another for the rest of our lives.
What was it like playing under Chean Roux?
It was great. He has a lot of experience, so I really learned a lot from him. He definitely helped to develop my game.
This was South Africa’s eighth third-place finish in 12 U20 Championship tournaments. Where do you think improvements should be made to boost those results?
I think we prepared to the best of our ability, but unfortunately knockout rugby can be unpredictable. We were obviously disappointed though because we did have a set target of winning it. The semi-final against France was a bit of a low because I really believed we could win that, but that was another learning curve for me.
You’ve played both hooker and loose forward. What is your preferred position?
That’s a tough one because I’m still making a choice between the two. At the moment as long as I’m on the field I’m happy.
What made you join the Sharks Academy?
I’m a local Durban boy so my heart’s always been with the Sharks. I’ve supported them since I was a kid and it’s definitely a dream to play for them.
What do you hope to achieve in 2020 and beyond?
At the moment I’m just taking everything step by step. I’m really enjoying my time at the Sharks.
How many of your teammates intend to pursue playing careers overseas? Has there been much talk about leaving South African shores within the junior set-ups?
Look, there’s definitely talk about it and we do hear what happens overseas and the figures that some guys earn. I’m not too sure how many guys intend to pursue it, but I do know that one of the biggest things for all of us is trying to play Super Rugby. It’s a major thing to South Africans and a lot of boys playing in the unions.’