Schalk’s advice for parents going into Kids Round

With the Vodacom United Rugby Championship celebrating Kids Round this weekend, Schalk Brits has urged parents of young rugby players to focus on making memories and not making Springboks.

Across the northern and southern hemispheres, Round 16 of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship will be all about celebrating the rugby-mad children in the game and involving them in as many of the match-day activities as possible.

Speaking as part of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship Media Round Table, Brits reflected on his own journey in the game and how he’d like his young sons to enjoy their rugby. And the former Springbok has urged parents to push the enjoyment of the game over performance.

“My dad’s message to me was always to just have fun,” said Brits.

“For me the focus is on my kids playing all sorts of sports. They even play football in Stellenbosch, which some people might say as a rival sport but which I see as something fantastic to add.

“I’ve tried to explain to parents that the probability of their son becoming a Springbok is so small. Take just one school like Paul Roos Gymnasium which has produced the most Springboks. Then consider how many kids played rugby at Paul Roos since the beginning of that school, and there’s only about 54 that became Springboks.

“Just give the kid great memories and have fun. I think 99% of all rugby players should just play the game for fun and make friends and memories. If it becomes something more than that for them then fantastic, but if not it’s still all good.”

Brits says he’s also keenly aware of any pressure there might be on his sons to follow in his footsteps on the rugby field.

“Every time your kids play rugby there is a shadow over them because they are Schalk Brits’ son, and I’m very fearful of my kids ever having to live in my shadow. It’s getting the enjoyment factor right because nobody wants that pressure. That’s why I’m always trying to push the kids on playing multiple sports. I have three sons who all play flyhalf and they are talented, but I just want them to be their own kid, be outside, and enjoy the game.

“This game has given me so many memories and the things I really remember are not the games themselves but the people I’ve met, the times I’ve gone out with my teammates, the naughty stuff we caused on tour. Those are the memories, and that’s what I want for my sons. That’s why I keep drilling it into my boys to forget about the result, play your hearts out, be physical, and never forget the memories part. I think we’re taking the competition too seriously at schoolboy level.”

It’s a sentiment that is shared by former Scotland international Ryan Wilson.

“My mom was the biggest driver of my rugby because she absolutely loved it. I have four sisters and I was the only hope at the time of getting into rugby. I push my own boys to do any sport they love doing. I’ve got two boys and they play football and tennis and love it.

“But they also loved going to my rugby games, and especially Murrayfield when I played for Scotland. Those were real special memories. For me, that’s why this Kids Round is so special – to get as many kids involved as possible.”

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