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Back You are here: Home Sports Rugby Kwa Zulu Natal Future Stars: Keagan Boulle - The Hybrid
Monday, 18 July 2011 21:20

Future Stars: Keagan Boulle - The Hybrid

 

Keagan Boulle is a superstar. Simple as that. A rugby football hybrid; a throwback to the infancy of professional sport in the Southern Hemisphere. He is Jeff Wilson. He is Errol Stewart.

keagan_bYou probably don't know the name yet, but that is merely due to the fact that we haven't reached the section of the timeline that procures general public recognition. If you are a part of the above mentioned group and are indeed unaware of his talents, then fear not, because if you don't know him personally, you are sure to know others like him. He’s the academic who opens the textbook on the evening before the exam and nonchalantly produces an A, the musician who plays by ear, the athlete who takes up a sport and achieves instant success. The content of this publication makes it clear which category young Keagan falls under and his story, though still in its infancy, is littered with somewhat nonchalant achievement.

 

Born in February 1993, Keagan first started showing promise at Grey  in Port Elizabeth, where he first caught the eye with his general ball skills (he took up soccer at the age of five) and later moved on to Bryandale Primary in Johannesburg. A move to Durban and Hillcrest Primary wet his appetite for the oval ball, but not being the biggest of boys and still a Football enthusiast, he played only a hand full of games for one of the strongest co-ed rugby schools in the province.

 

Once an intimate homestead, Hillcrest is now one of the fastest growing towns in the Southern Hemisphere and the Primary School has met the challenge by providing floodlit and indoor sporting facilities for grades R through seven, the Remedial Unit and Leap learners. The range of extra-curricular activities exposed Boulle to hockey and within a year, he was selected for the KZN under fourteen hockey team. He would go on to play until under sixteen, but concedes that whilst he enjoyed the game, he never took it very seriously.

 

Whilst Hillcrest Primary diversified Boulle's sporting portfolio, Westville Boys High entrenched it.

"I had heard that Westville had a very good soccer program and was a top school in general, so the choice of high school was pretty easy. They also offered a lot of new opportunities like playing basketball, which was pretty new to me".

 

Despite being recognized for his rugby prowess in recent years, soccer was always his first love and the vocation where he has made the most progress so far. Crediting much of his footballing success to the Westville Boys/ Westville United duo of Steve Bezuidenhout and Lewis Donnelly, Keagan has travelled as far afield as Hong Kong and New Zealand with a KZN under seventeen select team. Having been earlier scouted by the Mamelodi Sundowns under nineteen squad, (who he trained with) Boulle found his sternest test in his time spent with the Supersport United first team, under the tutelage of reputed disciplinarian, Gavin Hunt. "At that stage Supersport were the leading soccer club in South Africa. They had just won two PSL titles and there were a few international players in their squad. It was very quick and very physical; a big step up".

 

With such esteemed prowess, few would venture into other sporting codes, but Westville's relative success on the rugby field led Keagan to be 'bit by the rugby bug'. "I was hesitant to play rugby at under fourteen because I was still quite small for my age, but gave it a go at under fifteen. My goal was really to just have fun and started out in the lower teams, but surprised myself when I started moving up. Both my dad and my grandpa are rugby fans, so they encouraged me to give it a go".

 

By under sixteen, Boulle was an A team regular and after a few starts in the centre, he found his calling on the wing. The following year, he was already in the Westville first team and against arch-rivals, Kearsney College, scored a try that had more than a hint of nostalgia attached. Unlike the irritating habit of the modern wing conservatively cutting infield, Boulle received a scrumhalf pass from a standing start on his own twenty-two metre line and proceeded to weave his way past two defenders with a swing of his hips and then beat the Kearsney cover defence (comprising of four players) to score in the corner. The fact that he repeated the feat against the same opponents a year later served to solidify his reputation as arguably the best finisher in KZN. "Those were definitely the most memorable moments that I’ve had on a rugby field. We knew how strong Kearsney were this year and I think we proved a lot of people wrong when we managed to beat them".

 

Unbelievably, his matric season almost never happened as he faced the on-going dilemma over which sport to concentrate one. "I was seriously thinking of not playing rugby this season and putting more time into soccer, but our Coach, Mr Vowels, convinced me that I might regret the decision to miss out on my matric year and I've enjoyed it so much this season that I think he was right". Keagan further credits his relatively meteoric rise to the professional knowledge of former Springbok fullback, Theo van Rensburg. "Coach Theo has taught me the details of back line play; the small stuff that you don't always pick up on. I’ve also been lucky to meet Guy Coombe; a coach and counsellor at Westville who’s helped me on and off the field ".

 

Incredibly, Boulle finds himself representing KZN at this year’s Academy Week, rather than Craven Week. Along with Centre Tyler Fisher, he is known to be a player that Westville's opponents are openly wary of, and although initially disappointed, he was relishing the opportunity to represent his province. His baffling omission is scarily reminiscent of Francois Hougaard; an athlete with similarly raw attributes who never represented Western Province at Craven Week, but who's talent was unmistakable to the educated rugby minds at the Western Province Rugby Institute.

 

The self-same Institute has expressed an interest in Keegan joining their ranks, as have the Bulls junior structures; but for Keegan, there are still many decisions yet to be made. On the soccer front, there was an opportunity to join the Amazulu under twenty-three squad and the possibility of a college soccer scholarship in the United States still occupies the depths of his mind. There were initial concerns that his newfound rugby physique would not be conducive to a return to soccer, but as Keagan points out, his increased strength has proved beneficial when faced with particularly aggressive defenders who now come off second best when they try to outmuscle the speedy striker.

 

Despite the widely-held perception that his talents are effortless, Boulle follows a strenuous fitness regime when others side with rest and relaxation. What helps set him apart are his fitness sessions at six in the morning, afternoons spent in the gym and consistently following the specified conditioning program that Westville Boys have provided. Standing at 184cm and 80kg, Keagan is only a few kilograms lighter than Springbok wing, Bjorn Basson (who incidentally also missed out on Craven Week selection) and with the natural growth that will come with age and consistency in the gym, there is no need to sacrifice his electric pace by piling on the kilos.

 

As for the million dollar question, young Boulle is still undecided. “At this stage I’m still unsure because it was always going to be soccer, but rugby really got to me this year. There’s so much more comradery and brotherhood in a rugby team and I’ll admit that it’s been nice walking around Westville and having people notice you. I think the decision will be made for me, depending on the best opportunity that comes up”. With football clubs in the UK, Australia and New Zealand also a distinct possibility; let’s just hope that they don't let him pick up a rugby ball while he's there; South Africa wouldn't want to see him on the wrong side of the pitch in a Tri-nations encounter.

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