Coenraad Pieterse - Grey College captain
Grey College Bloemfontein is arguably South Africa’s premier rugby school. Captaining the Grey College First XV is an honour bestowed on few and one happily accepted by born-and-bred Free Stater Coenraad Pieterse.
Grey face traditional rivals Paul Roos Gimnasium in Stellenbosch in this week’s FNB Classic Clash. The schools, traditional rugby powerhouses, both started the season with different captains and both had, by their high standards, stuttering starts to the season. JW Jonker started out captaining Grey but he was injured in the final game of Craven Week, while Paul Roos are onto their third captain. Interestingly both team’s results have improved markedly in the second half of the season, under new leadership.
New Grey skipper Coenraad Pieterse was born in Bloemfontein on 25 January 1987. He has attended Grey College from Grade 1 to 12 and was a school prefect at the preparatory school and at the college. He comes from a sporting family, his mom having played squash and hockey for Free State. His father Koenraad also played No.8 for Grey College and Free State Craven Week. Koenraad (senior – spelt with a “K”) went on to play SA Schools in 1980 and also played on the flank for the OFS provincial senior team. Coenraad played Craven Week this year in the tournament held at Grey College to celebrate their 150th anniversary. He openly admits that he did not enjoy the event that much as the Free State side (usually excelling on the back of a strong Grey College team) battled.
Coenraad is a ball-carrying No.8, but not being the biggest forward he uses his astute ability to read the game to run into space. He has good pace, having represented Free State at athletics (Under-16 400m) and hence a keen eye for a gap. Coenraad played for the Cherries (Grey 2nd team) in their victory over Paul Roos last year and is relishing the opportunity to go one better on Saturday. His best rugby memories to date are making the Nike Green Squad after the Under-16 Grant Khomo Week and then obtaining his first cap for the College First XV against Nelspruit earlier this season.
Grey have a young pack and therefore they are playing complete rugby this season. Unable to dominate opposition physically they are using multi-skilled players like Coenraad to beat the best in the country. They’ll have to do so though without the pampering you may expect the Grey College First XV to receive. During the first half of the season they went down to Pietermaritzburg early in the week of the match and were put up in a hotel, only to lose the game. Losing does not sit well with the powers that be at Grey and consequently this weekend they will join the masses on the train down to the Cape.
Now that Australian Totai Kefu has retired from international rugby, Coenraad looks up to the man he calls an “animal”, New Zealand’s Richie McCaw. Coenraad is dead set on studying medicine next year and to that end he has applied to numerous tertiary institutions. Bloemfontein is in the blood though and naturally he is really hoping to be accepted at Kovsies. No doubt he will follow in a long line of Grey College captains to do the same but he certainly will not want to be one of the few who goes there having lost to the old enemy from the Cape!
For a general view of Grey College, click here.