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FNB UP-Tuks star: I was like a big Cheslin Kolbe

FNB Varsity Cup

FNB UP-Tuks flank Dian Schoonees talks about his try-scoring exploits, the synergy of the pack and his pre-match ritual.

How did your rugby career start? My parents moved from Cape Town to the Free State when I was young. I went to Grey College and signed with the Lions after school. I was at the union for four years, and also represented UJ for a couple of seasons.

How did your time at Grey College shape you as a player? I was fortunate enough to play two years for the 1st XV, so I gained a lot of experience. That team didn’t lose many games, so when it did, the players took it hard. That’s probably why I hate losing so much now. During my time there, I also learned every basic skill and how to apply those skills in a game situation.

What did you learn during your time with the Lions? My time at the Lions was very good, We had one of the best coaches, Joey Mongalo – who is now with the Bulls – as our head coach. He gave us a lot of rugby knowledge to help us understand the game better.

What brought you to FNB UP-Tuks? It was always a dream for me to come and play my rugby in Pretoria.

You’ve scored a lot of tries in the FNB Varsity Cup this season. Which one stands out? That long-range try in the match against UCT. I just saw a gap and went for it. I didn’t know if I should side-step or run over the defender, but somehow it all played out well. I just went full out, almost like a big Cheslin Kolbe.

You’ve scored four tries to date. To what do you attribute your current form? When I compare my form now to my form in previous seasons, I think my fitness and physicality are peaking at the right time. It’s also down to the synergy and speed of our forwards. We work very well as a unit.

Where does your speed come from? That’s a tough one. Maybe from my father and grandfather, who played for Boland. I read a few articles about them and they told me a few stories about their exploits. I did athletics and swimming at a young age, so maybe that made me the player I am today.

What are you studying? I’m studying education.

Do you have any superstitions? Nothing specific. I do have a routine, though, in that I have two Lucozades as well as jelly babies five hours before the game.

What are your goals for the next game against the FNB CUT Ixias? I would like to see if we can gain some confidence and execute more effectively. We are starting to build momentum at an important part of the season, but I believe we haven’t realised our full potential yet. Winning the Varsity Cup is definitely our goal.

Interview by Lehlogonolo Ditshego

Photo: Catherine Kotze/Varsity Cup


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