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FNB CUT Ixias prop: I'd love to get into rugby broadcasting

FNB CUT Ixias tighthead prop Tebogo Masemola on his rugby journey, YouTube channel and being in a bio-bubble.

How did you get into rugby?

I was bullied at primary school for being overweight, which caused me to rebel. I got detention and struggled with my academics. I was subsequently prescribed Ritalin for being hyperactive, which didn't sit well with my mom, who brought me back to Johannesburg from my grandmother's home in KZN. On my first day of school at Laerskool Culembeeck, my mom explained my situation to the headmaster, Mr Geldenhuys, who said that if he deemed me to be hyperactive, he'd put me on to the rugby pitch. The rest is history.

You had a successful high school career. What age-group provincial teams have you represented, during and after school?

While at Hoërskool Die Adelaar, I represented the Lions U15 and U16 development sides at the Iqhawe Week and Jeppe Rugby Festival respectively. I then moved to Pretoria Boys' High and played for the Blue Bulls at the U16 Grant Khomo Week. Since leaving school, I have played for the Griquas U20 and Free State U21 teams.

Who are your rugby mentors?

Mr [Jaydon] Kelly at Pretoria Boys', who taught me that first and foremost rugby is about having fun, and then about improving as an individual while achieving one's performance goals. His interest in my odd-shaped-ball journey helped to keep my dream alive and remain positive.

My psychologist, Dr [Jannie] Botha, is also a role model because he taught me about perspective. Many things can go wrong on the pitch and I needed to learn to take negativity in my stride.

And your rugby role models?

Definitely has to be the 'big man' [All Blacks scrumhalf] TJ Perenara. There is just something about the way he carries himself around the field. It's almost like he never runs out of confidence. The fact that he is a small player playing against huge players, but still has the confidence to do what he does on the field, is just truly amazing for me.

What would you like to do after rugby?

I'd love to get into rugby broadcasting. I'm a very talkative person and genuinely like engaging in conversation with people and telling stories. Through watching many sporting codes, including soccer and rugby, I got to hear the likes of Hugh Bladen, the late Kaunda Ntunja, Andy Townsend, Martin Tyler, Owen Nkumane, Fudge Mabeta and Jonathan Mokuena. That made me fall in love with broadcasting and want to speak to the whole world.

When I decided to start my YouTube channel, RuggaChat with Masemola, I wanted to give people a story, something to look forward to. I also wanted them to realise that rugby – and sport in general – doesn't just happen on the weekend or game day, but is part of everyday life.

What are your rugby and life goals?

I would love to get contracted by a professional team and be able to call myself a Springbok one day. My life goals are to make my mom proud and be an example to my younger brother and sister.

FNB CUT have won five out of six matches in this year's FNB Varsity Cup and look set to reach the semi-finals. What are your thoughts on the campaign so far and the win against FNB Maties in particular?

So far, so good! We are putting in a lot of work and everything is coming together for us as a team. The win against Maties was really great. I think it was just another sign of how well we prepare and how strongly we believe in ourselves as a team.

What's it been like in the bio-bubble?

Absolutely amazing, I've loved every single moment of it. It's fantastic to see how a huge tournament like the Varsity Cup could be hosted in this way. It feels great to be part of such an event during these tough times as a country.

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