Boyhood memories still drive Fourie’s North-South Derby passion

rugby26 February 2024 15:24| © Reuters
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Deon Fourie © Getty Images

As a sold-out Loftus Versfeld prepares for another giant North-South Derby between the Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship on Saturday, it’s also taken Deon Fourie back to his high school rugby days and memories of watching this Derby from the stands.

“I grew up in Polokwane. I can remember since I was little going to Loftus Versfeld and watching these Derby games and they were always the biggest – pulling the crowds and all the emotions around them. I think it’s just ingrained in our DNA as South Africans to really compete in the Derbies,” says the DHL Stormers star as he reflects on what will also be an Origins Round in the competition where the players go back to their rugby roots by wearing their school rugby socks.

“Wearing the school socks is inspirational and reflective. When I was at school in Hoërskool Pietersburg we still had the wool socks with the little tie at the back. It brings back memories. You always remember playing with your mates at school, and the guys I played rugby with at school are still my best friends today. That’s the beauty of rugby. It creates that bond.

“For me, that’s where it all started – at high school. You don’t see a lot of professional rugby players coming from that side of the country, so maybe for all the kids playing in Hoërskool Pietersburg now it’s good to see that there is a possibility to play professionally and hopefully internationally as well.”

Fourie says he expects another tough match between these two teams, especially with the Bulls hungry to end the Stormers’ unbeaten run against them.

“I think it’s just a confidence thing with the Stormers at the moment. Winning is a habit, but it takes hard work to keep that habit. The Bulls are firing at the moment and they want to break that bogey, so it’s going to be tough but exciting as well. It will be intense.”