The ever youthful ex Springbok, Pedrie Wannenburg, swapped French clubs to join newly promoted Top 14 club Oyonnax where he and his family are enjoying the good life.
What was your first impression of Oyonnax compared to your last club, Castres?
I will not say it was a shock to me but I was a bit sceptic. It is really a small town it’s half the size of Castres so I wondered if my family will adjust to it and they did very well. Then they showed us the nature around this part of the world and my mind also changed. It is one of the most beautiful places I have seen in a really long time. 7 lakes around this area and we are surrounded by mountains. We are just 10 mins from some of the best ski resorts in the world. And we are basically living in The French Alps so you can just imagine how beautiful it is.
How have your new teammates treated you so far?
They are a really good bunch of guys. We have a lot of fun. The team is like a unit. We do everything together. From baby birthday parties to playing rugby together.
Are you fluent in French yet?
No I am not fluent, but I am getting there. I can help myself, talk to people one on one but when there is a big conversation going on you will lose track. Still working hard on the language. We all have classes every week. So I am slowly progressing in the right direction, as it is really a difficult language.
Do your kids speak Afrikaans, French or English around the house?
Yes they do a bit of each. We speak to them in Afrikaans. Then all the English speak to them in English. Then they go twice a week to a French crèche and there they speak French. Isabelle is almost 3 now and she can speak 3 languages. Not bad. Pedrie is a little small for that.
How do you feel about the new Super Rugby system?
It’s going to be a real challenge for all the players. But it brings in a new dimension to the game. Bringing in new teams is always interesting because it brings in a new challenge for everyone.
How do you feel the Heineken Cup compares to Super rugby?
It is a bit different. You play it over a longer period. In between you have your own league and the Six nations. Rugby is different here. You start off with the Heineken Cup playing a fast game and then slow in the winter and then a little bit faster again. The reason for this is the weather. So that makes it interesting. Quality and physicality of rugby is similar to Super rugby.
Which 4 teams do you think will make the Rugby World Cup semis?
Good, good question. South Africa can get the All Blacks or the Wallabies in the quarters if I am right. So I don’t want to take a change on this. Only thing I can say is that there will be a couple of upsets in this World Cup because the smaller nations are becoming much more competitive.
What European countries have you been able to visit?
We try to travel as often as we can and because everything is so close, it makes it a lot easier. Last year we took a 4-week road trip through the whole of Spain. It was incredible. We didn’t plan too much and ended up in the most amazing places. We even took a turnoff and visited Portugal as well. Then we have also been to many places in Italy including Rome, Venice and Milan. Also visited Monaco and the French Rivera. This coming holiday we are planning on going to some of the Italian islands and also to Greece.