Super 14 Here we come!
by Julie Purdon
They say that every rugby players dream is to secure a contract with a Super 14 franchise. Mark Swanepoel did just that and before he turned 17! After playing for the Australian Schoolboys, a very impressive feat in itself, Mark was offered a 2 year contract with the Reds Academy.
Seventeen year old Mark, born in Johannesburg, was only six when he and his family left their home inBoksburg. He wishes dearly that he could have experienced more of the rich South African culture; however, life evidently had other plans for this talented young man. Together with his parents John and Karen and his two siblings Ryan and Jessica, Mark left South Africa and spent five years in New Zealand, finally landing in Australia six years ago.
Mark was clearly gifted when it came to rugby. Obviously, being South African, it had always been in his blood! When Mark started playing for a team, coached at the time by his dad, his gift was nurtured. He played for his New Zealand school team and found much enjoyment in the game, which, over the years became a passion strong enough to drive his determination and desire to reach his personal goals as a rugby player. Mark believes that one needs total mental toughness and the ability to work as hard and as much as it takes to be the best. His will-power is undeniable.
Marks family is without question a central part of his love for rugby. He speaks tenderly of his mum, who worries about him getting injured while describing his dad as rugby crazy. He looks up to his older brother, who has also been involved in rugby at a high level and says his little sister is one of his biggest supporters. He says they have always encouraged him to strive for whatever we wanted to.
My goal is to play international rugby for Australia as a Wallaby says Mark. But, its not all about rugby. Hes in his last year of school and is working hard on achieving an entrance into uni, hoping to perhaps study part time in order to focus more prominently on his rugby. Being in the middle of his most important school year of his life, Mark feels extremely fortunate to have secured a contract with a Super 14 franchise, knowing that his greatest goal is now firmly in place for the future. He is very level headed about everything and knows that all he needs to do is continue to work hard, control the control-ables he says! It may be a cliché we hear often but Mark believes that if you do everything possible to better the things you can, the rest will take care of itself.
Mark is certainly charismatic and mature beyond his years. He is humble too, and respects those who have influenced his career. Amongthem, his Reds Academy Coach - Paul Carozza, his 1st Fifteen Coach for 2007 - Matt Taylor and most importantly his dad. The likes of Joost van der Westhuizen, Dan Carter and George Smith have served as important role models in Marks life too. And, when asked about his two favourite players, Mark admires the composure, vision and flair of Matt Gitteau and the courage, ingenuity and heart of Fransois Steyn.
Theres a sense of something extraordinary about Mark, almost like hes history in the making. Perhaps one day Mark will be held high in the minds of other young rugby players and admired, as he hopes to be, the best scrumhalf the world has ever seen!