Rising stars Ernst Stapelberg, Dian Koen and Francois van der Merwe chat to us about life at the Western Province rugby Institute in Stellenbosch.
Tell us a bit about the Namibian tour you guys are currently busy with?
ERNST: The tour started on a good note with the nice weather we had, we expected desert conditions and we had rain! That was great, also the place where we stay (Out of Nature resort) has a very nice relaxing atmosphere, easy to just unwind. We managed to fit in a round of golf and apparently paintball still awaits!
DIAN: Namibia is very nice but a bit dry, I’m missing the sea breeze! But the environment is very pretty, especially where we are staying. We’ve had a few training sessions and went for dinner at Joe’s Beer House. We’ve had quite a relaxing tour so far, lots of off time and activities like golf and swimming. Good for bonding time and getting to know each other even better. We are all growing very close, like a family.
FRANCOIS: Namibia is such an awesome tour and a very good opportunity for us, especially to become tighter as a group.
What are you still looking forward to on tour?
ERNST: We are expecting two tough games against the Namibian U20 side and we would have been well rested and prepared for that. We expect to get some good team bonding and socializing with the team as well!
DIAN: We will still have quite a few tough training sessions and paintball! ☺
FRANCOIS: We played our first game Wednesday evening, was quite tough to squeeze out a win in the end! Looking forward to Saturday’s game that will definitely be tougher. Otherwise we are enjoying a few rounds of golf every now and then, went for a team dinner in Windhoek at Joe’s Beer house, definite stop for anyone passing through Windhoek.
How has the year at the WPRI been so far?
ERNST: This year has been amazing so far, really didn’t expect it would be so much fun. The training sessions and program is very very tough, you can’t hide away and you get pushed to your limits – but in a nutshell the guys are nice, we are enjoying the stay in Stellenbosch and enjoying the rugby!
DIAN: This year at the Institute has been very nice, excellent facilities and we are training very hard, pushing yourself and also as a team. The coaches are very hard on us and want us to do well and that helps to motivate us!
FRANCOIS: To be part of the institute has been such an unbelievable privilege so far. We are a group of guys working very hard together with the mindset of achieving success. I am really enjoying it a lot, and with a good pre-season almost behind us I am excited for a very competitive Currie Cup season. Our hard work will definitely pay off as the year progresses.