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Back You are here: Home Sports Rugby Kwa Zulu Natal Rugby: Christian Weissing- Finding His Own Way
Monday, 30 September 2013 11:49

Rugby: Christian Weissing- Finding His Own Way

Written by  Bryce Foss

It was the poet, Robert Frost who spoke of taking the road less travelled and Hilton College Lock and vice-captain, Christian Weissing has personified these words that have been etched in literature through the ages.

 

As obscure as the mention might first seem in a school sports magazine, the parallels of the two men are pertinent, given the road which Weissing has set for himself on a familiar rite of passage.

With a uniquely cosmopolitan childhood spent globetrotting within and outside the African continent, it comes as no surprise that Weissing would choose to stray from the well-worn path of KZN matriculants headed for the tertiary institutions of the Western Cape and instead set his sights on Frost’s alma mata, Dartmouth College.

An Ivy League school founded in 1769, this New Hampshire-based university of six thousand students has a proud rugby record; both within the Ivy League and throughout the United States collegiate system. Not that he has ruled out other options such as Arkansas State and St Mary’s University; both of which have outstanding Men’s Rugby facilities.  

With an American-born mother, Dutch father and entitled to a South African Passport (having lived here for the past twelve years), Christian has the nationality options that most can only dream of and he is well on his way to representing his maternal motherland. What a US rugby option also presents is a family atmosphere; a small community where nobody has a bad word to say about another and all are united in their collective love of the game. It is possibly this welcoming nature that has seen young Chris make a decision that could shape his destiny.  

Whilst many schoolboys spend their July holidays traveling, partying or doing as little as possible; Christian made the trip to the States to attend a developmental USA Eagles Sevens camp, made up of thirty-five players aged between sixteen and twenty-seven, in preparation for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Twenty-one years old at the time of the next showpiece, he’ll be the perfect age to make an impact on the Sevens stage and having played flank last year, Chris possesses all the mobility needed for the shorter version of the game, whilst still maintaining the physical edge that American rugby is renowned for; more than likely due to the offshoot influences of the NFL and the ferocious NHL Ice Hockey league.

Far from an aggressive individual off the field, this well-spoken intellectual (his blazer sports academic colours) originally took a liking to hockey in Grade Eight, before deciding to give rugby a go for the u15D team for a bit of fun. Flying below the radar, the unassuming gentle giant made his way through the C and B teams before being selected for the school u16A team in Grade Ten.

A man who has followed his progress closer than most is new Sharks Forwards Coach and former Hilton College Director of Rugby, Brad McLeod-Henderson. A talent spotter of the highest order, the new Sharks talisman spoke of the well-travelled number five as an example of perseverance being rewarded over the years. From social rugby player to leader and lineout general; his admiration for Weissing is apparent and it’s clear that the man largely credited for the turnaround in Hilton’s 1st XV fortunes will be following Chris’ progress with a sense of pride.

But where did it all begin for the youngster? How did he get to this point after a background that never seemed to include rugby as a staple? Weissing was born in Hong Kong, has lived in the Ivory Coast, Singapore, Zambia and Johannesburg; but it is Tanzania that his family currently calls home; though for Chris, he is ever the South African with his entire formal education being spent on our shores. Fluent in French, he arrived at Pridwin Prep (Johannesburg) in Grade Five and took a somewhat casual liking to the game.

Fast-forward to seven years down the track and indifference was replaced by the pride of putting on the haunting white jersey that has been worn by the likes of Bob Skinstad and Gary Teichmann; leaders in their own right who have gone on to make a success of themselves off the field. Gutsy performances away from home, as well as the amphitheatre known as Gilfillan has seen victories against DHS, Maritzburg College, George Campbell, St Charles, Northwood, Helpmekaar, HS Pioneer and home & away results over those arch-rivals from Balgowan, Michaelhouse. A fifteen-man game of moving the ball into space rather than mindless collision has been the catalyst and the sight of 192cm, 92kg Weissing offloading in contact is an indication as to why he featured in Hilton’s pioneer year for Sevens in the 2012 Atlantic School Sevens tournament at Glenwood High.

Following Craven and Academy Weeks’, where elusive junior contracts are being signed and teenagers are elevated to the realm of social media celebrity; this is a refreshing story of an understated youngster quietly going about his business; free of the narcissism that has all too often become apparent as we as a nation treat schoolboys like the finished product. This is the story of a young man who knows that he has much to do and much yet to achieve. With no exaggerated fanfare, he is seemingly lost to South African rugby. But this is a matter of perception. Much like the success of Chris Froome, Brad Barritt, Justin Rose and Kevin Pietersen; South Africans and indeed Africans should look upon Weissing’s potential achievements in the colours of the USA, not as that of an anonymous outsider, but as one of our own.

This is the story of Christian Weissing defying conventional thought and choosing to take the road less travelled; and in the immortalized words of Frost: “I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference”.

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