SA School Sports



Last updateTue, 04 Dec 2018 12pm

   Join our newsletter here:      


Back You are here: Home Sports Rugby Kwa Zulu Natal Fred Zeilinga- Glenwood Captain
Monday, 07 June 2010 12:42

Fred Zeilinga- Glenwood Captain

freddyThere are just so many talented schoolboy rugby players in the country that to get earmarked as one, you have to stand head and shoulders above the rest because it takes a very special type of school boy rugby player to get noticed these days. Jake White, the legendary World Cup winning Coach has been involved in school rugby for decades and he knows talent when he sees it and if he points out that a certain schoolboy has the potential to make the move up to the professional ranks, you naturally take notice.

"Guys like the Glenwood flyhalf Fred Zeilinga have what it takes," says Jake White speaking about the "Green Machine's" captain, yet there is still much ground for the young Fred Zeilinga to cover before he can fulfil the high expectations that those around him and he himself has set.

"I mould my game around the Johnny Wilkinson style..."

Fred who plays for the KZN powerhouse and arguably the strongest school team in the province, Glenwood, has been an integral part of the team's success for the past two seasons. As the 2010 First XV captain it has been his sublime kicking, control and sheer determination that has made people sit up and take notice of what potentially could be a match winner for whoever he plays for.  "You know to be a good flyhalf you have to be a good all round player, you can't just be a good kicker or passer," explains Fred Zeilinga. "I try to mould my game around the Jonny Wilkinson style; he is a good tackler, distributes the ball well, has a good step and is a great kicker. To me he is the perfect fly half."

Hailing from Ladysmith, Fred Zeilinga was introduced to rugby from the young age of 6 and he found himself playing scrumhalf for his entire primary school days. Success came quickly for him as he was selected for the KZN U13 side to play Craven Week rugby and anyone who saw him play realised that here was a talent that is rarely seen at this level. Not having any coaches that identified his talent in the early days the role of tutor fell to his father who has had a massive influence on his career and is his primary inspiration. Fred explains this unique relationship, "my father has been the greatest encouragement to me, every time after the game we talk and he tells me his points of view. He tells me which areas I need to work in; if there is a problem with some aspect of my game he tries to get the best coaches to help me. I recently had a session with Vlok Cilliers and my father flew me up there to get some help with my kicking. He hasn't missed a single match and he has to drive all the way from Ladysmith so if anyone stands out he is the one person who has been the greatest encouragement."

"I would like to think I am a running flyhalf who kicks from long distances..."

The coaching however at Glenwood is renowned as being amongst the finest in the country and as soon as Fred arrived in Grade 8 his rugby started to improve and reach a totally new level. "The coaching at Glenwood is brilliant and right through all the age groups I have had some excellent coaches. Last year and this year I have been coached by Mr. Erasmus who is at a new level as regards school coaching. Basically the coaches here at Glenwood have taught me everything that I know about being a flyhalf," says Fred.

Possessing the sublime skills of kicking out of hand and dropping for goal with left or right foot Fred Zeilinga has steered Glenwood to some notable victories. Yet it was at the 2009 Craven Week that many in attendance watched with wonder as the young flyhalf teed up a shot at the poles from more than 60 meters out! "Yes I would like to think that I can kick from long distances, it is part of my training to kick from distance. I would like to think I am a running flyhalf although with the new rules coming in you don't want to play in your own half so the team relies a lot on me to kick," mentions Fred.

Having captained the Glenwood sides since U14 days, Fred has a fair amount of experience for the job knowing the players well and enjoying a good relationship with the coach. The added responsibility of leader does not seem to faze him at all as he endeavours to lead from example rather than go around berating his players. Still 2010 did not start ideally for Zeilinga who would have been planning to begin where he left off in 2009. "For the first time in my life I picked up an injury in a pre-season match against Old Boys when I cracked a bone in my foot. I was out for 2 months and it was quite a setback for me but I have recovered well and although I needed a painkiller before the games it was healing nicely now and I am not affected by it anymore," Fred Zeilinga explains.

"I just want to enjoy every school match, it's something I will miss"

Fred Zeilinga was selected to play for the KZN Craven Week side and would have been a serious contender for the SA Schools team had he not broken his foot in the match against Maritzburg College which was the week before Craven Week started. Still he is still determined that that setback is not going to hold him back from embracing a career as a professional rugby player. There is no amount of effort that is too much as he prepares himself to soon realise that dream, for years now he has disciplined himself with a regime of training that should put him in a great position in 2011. Since U14 he has had gym sessions on Monday's and Wednesday's, the hours of jogging in the mornings and the relentless drills during the field training and you realise that to be a top class schoolboy rugby player takes a huge amount of sacrifice and dedication. Yet the focus is clear in the mind of Fred, his rugby career is still in its formative stages and he fully expects that he will be able to make a professional occupation out of the sport. "This year one of my goals was to make the SA School side, but sadly the injury put pay to that but really this was my last year at school and I just wanted to enjoy every match that I played as a schoolboy. Many people are telling me that you will miss the school matches so I really wanted to get the most out my schooldays and I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself but just to enjoy the games," says Fred who clearly has a balanced view of the spotlight which seems to fall so easily on school players these days.

Last year there was probably a bit of pressure on the Glenwood No.10 with a great deal of expectation on him to perform and not a few expected him to be selected for the SA Schools side. Another year on he is older, wiser and more experienced to deal with the pressure cooker environment of rugby, the young Zeilinga displays a clear and calculating mind so need in top level rugby. As one would expect it is a match played at Craven Week 2009 that stands out as one of his toughest games. "Yes the match against Free State was probably the toughest match, we played with a big wind for the first half which kept us in the game but in the second half they scored what we thought was a dubious try as the Assistant Ref had his flag up and that turned out to be the winning try at the end," recalls Fred.

Westville, College and Grey: the big matches

The schoolboy rugby career has come to an end for Fred and he has over 60 matches for the Glenwood First team he can look back on and cherish for years to come. "I would say the best flyhalf I have come up against has to be the Grey College player Johan Goosen and I have always looked forward to our traditional match against Grey. It was always a pleasure to play Grey, they play very hard rugby with no off the ball stuff and you know you are playing against the best. You want to prove yourself against a team like that," says the Glenwood captain.

True, Glenwood had a tough year when you take into account the success they have enjoyed in recent year and several local teams pushed them all the way. Westville put on a gallant performance but ran out of steam and Kearsney fought back strongly in the second half to give them a scare, yet Glenwood still reign as the current top team in KZN. Maritzburg College who enjoyed a rejuvenated season put in one of their finest performances to topple the "Green Machine" in what was a massive match. It was a sad ending to Zeilinga's school rugby days as he was injured in that match and had to be carried of with a broken foot, but he has no regrets when he looks back on his rugby days at Glenwood.  "You know we have played probably 18 of the top 20 teams  this year so it has been a tough year and there are a few pains and niggles that came through. But the games that we are always looking forward  and remember on the local scene are the Westville match and the Maritzburg College one. College have improved significantly and it was a great match, they haven't totally played to their potential yet but by the time we played them at the end of the season they were at the top of their game. We view Westville and College as our derby matches. DHS matches although played on our Old Boys Day is not so tough and this year they had a very young side."

Fred's Future?

The future is bright for the young flyhalf who has already played for the Sharks U 19 team and has been signed up to play for them in 2011. He would ideally want to further his career with the franchise. "I am going to give it my all for a few years and see where it gets me, it really depends on how much work I am willing to do and I am determinded to give my all to reach my dream. Yet if it doesn't work out I will probably go to university and try get into the Varsity Cup which is becoming a big event these days. But my goal is to become a Shark, look at a guy like Pat Lambie, what he has achieved is probably every young players dream to play Super 14 rugby at the age of 19 and it proves that if you have the talent and are good enough there will always be opportunities opening up."

We will look with interest at how Fred Zeilinga proceeds through the ranks to ultimately fulfil his dreams and accomplish his goals. Whether he reaches them or not one thing will be certain it will not be for lack of talent or effort. Blessed with extraordinary skills there is little doubt that Fred Zeilinga, the Glenwood flyhalf and Captain will be long remembered as one of the finest schoolboy rugby players of his generation.


Related items