Mon 23 May 2022 | 02:01

Josh Strauss: Why I almost quit the game at age 21

Josh Strauss: Why I almost quit the game at age 21
Mon 23 May 2022 | 02:01
Josh Strauss: Why I almost quit the game at age 21
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Joshua Zac Strauss has had a celebrated and storied career on the rugby field, even playing for Scotland against his country of birth, South Africa.

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His path is one of many twists and turns.

In Part One of a nearly hour-long interview, he sat down with @king365ed to talk about the early days and why he almost quit the game at age 21.

His story is not one that follows the well-treated path of getting a contract straight out of school, even though he was schooled at Paul Roos Gymnasium.

After overcoming the many obstacles in his path, Strauss – having made it all the way to the top, including the 2015 World Cup – is now ploughing back into the game.

Strauss, an amiable and laid-back individual generally, is involved in coaching and recruiting at the South African College High School – also known as SACS – in Cape Town.

Strauss, after a ‘gap-year’ in France, played for the Boland Cavaliers, Lions, Glasgow Warriors, Sale Sharks, Stade Francais and eventually the Bulls.

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The journey also included a three-year period of international rugby.

Not having had many prospects after school, he had planned to take a ‘gap year’ – planning to eventually study veterinary science.

However, an opportunity to “earn some cash” by playing in France saw Strauss jump on a plane and head to Europe – where he played for the small-town team of Lons-le-Saunier.

Much to their surprise, the group of South African boys – all still under-19 – ended up playing in the senior leagues.

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Upon his return to South Africa, while playing club rugby in the Western Cape, he got a call from Louis Koen – the former Springbok flyhalf, who most recently served as SA Rugby’s high-performance manager – to join Boland.

Strauss explained how he first thought a friend was playing a prank on him and dismissed the call, before a persistent Koen convinced him to join his first provincial union in 2008.

The next year, 2009, he suffered a catastrophic knee injury in the first pre-season training session – an injury so severe he was told he might never run again.

As a result, he lost the Boland contract he had signed.

* In his own words – Josh Straus, the early days

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“I said to my mom: ‘I am turning 21 this year, I had a decent run, it is probably time to call it’,” he said about what appeared to be a career-ending injury.

He then went to Stellenbosch to start studying for a general BA degree, in the hope of getting into a course for a BSc degree.

“During that time I trained in the gymnasium,” he said, adding: “My knee was always sore. Then, one day, when I got on the cycle, for the first time in 11 months it wasn’t sore.

“I went outside, had a run on the field and my knee was fine.

“I had a chat with Conrad Burke [the Boland captain at the time], who had good connections at Maties.

“He contacted Chean Roux [US coach] for me and Chean Roux got me in. I played Varsity Cup that year.

“After that the Lions recruited me,” he said of the start of a journey that would lead to numerous international matches – including playing against the Springboks on a couple of occasions.

* Don’t miss the next instalment of the Josh Strauss interview – when he talks about his decision to move to Scotland.

@king365ed
@rugby365com

* Watch the entire hour-long interview below

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