The recipient of this year’s Roger Cleary Rugby and French Scholarship was High School student Jaco Oosthuysen from Clonmel. Jaco received the scholarship from Clonmel Rugby Club president Tom Fennessy and High School principal Shay Bannon in a presentation at the school.
This scholarship was established by Kieran Cleary and his family in 2005 in memory of the late Roger Cleary, who taught in the High School for many years. The aim of the scholarship is to promote rugby and French in the school. This year Clonmel RFC came on board as co-sponsors with the High School and the Cleary family.
Jaco has played for successive High School rugby teams since First Year. He was part of the senior team that won the Munster Schools U-19 O’Gorman Cup last year. This season his efforts have rewarded by being selected for the Munster ‘A’ Schools U-19 team along with his High School team mate Stephen Carey and both have already played an integral part in their recent victories over Connacht and Leinster in the inter-provincial series. Jaco also plays for the Clonmel U-19 rugby team.
Jaco spent ten days in Soustons near Biarritz in the south west of France during August, where he received professional rugby coaching and French tuition. This is his account of his time in France:
“I was fortunate to receive a scholarship to go to the French and Rugby camp in France. We flew from Dublin to Bilboa and met up with the rest of the players. On arrival in Soustons we were introduced to the coaches. We went straight into a training session followed by dinner.
Our daily routine consisted of breakfast at 8am followed by a French class. This was followed by rugby training until lunch. The afternoon was divided into activities and another training session. Dinner was followed by social activities.
French class was not as formal as in school. We learned relevant, everyday spoken French like the weather, food, rugby terms and general conversation. For two of our French classes we went to the local market to interact with the local people.
The training sessions lasted for two hours and consisted of ball skills, contact, a game of tag and fitness. The drills included running lines, passing, tackling technique, creating space, defensive tactics, attacking and fitness. Nigel, the head coach, was very strict and expected 110% for the whole training session. Any lack of effort was punished by extra fitness. Players were encouraged to support each other, put bodies on the line, pushing themselves to the limit, communicate effectively but most of all to enjoy the game.
Nigel emphasised that rugby is a territorial game and any intrusion must be counter acted. Training was always intense as all the players wanted to play and learn as much as they could at the camp. Most players wanted to make the senior cup team for their school and improve their overall game. This created a competitive environment in which every player had a chance to improve his skills. On the Wednesday we played the Soustons U/20 team in a friendly match. The match was very physical as the French players were a lot bigger than us. This really tested our defensive skills that we worked so hard on during training.
Activities after lunch included going to the beach, sailing, surfing, kayaking, paint balling, mountain climbing, attending a Biarritz match, high ropes and shopping. Evening social activities consisted of quizzes, DVDs, playing cards, talent competitions, table tennis, basketball and skateboarding. This is where we had the opportunity to get to know each other and make new friends.
Richard Pool-Jones, Vice President of Stade Francais, gave us a talk on their idea of an ideal rugby player. In their opinion rugby should be part of your lifestyle but not take over your life. They are not interested in gym monkeys without any manners or respect for others. Their ideal players should have a balance in life. They strongly encourage all players to stay in education as long as possible and not only depend on rugby. Richard also stressed the importance of hydration: he said for every pint that you are dehydrated you lose 10% of your performance. He also made the point that enough sleep is vital for concentration, quality decision-making and consistent performance on and off the field.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend the French and Rugby camp in Soustons. I would like to thank Clonmel RFC, the High School and Cleary and Cleary solicitors for giving me the chance to go on the fantastic trip. If the scholarship wasn’t there I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go. I would advise any 5th Year student to apply, as it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I gained a lot from it and learned valuable life lessons”.
The Roger Cleary Rugby and French Scholarship is open to 5th Year High School students who study French and play rugby for the school. Past recipients are Tony Cantwell, Aldo Matassa, Stephen O’Sullivan, Mark Corby, Robert Carroll and Richard Power.