Grasse is greener for rising rugby star

Louis Boshoff, a South African under-20 fly-half playing for Grasse, has left everything behind and travelled into the great unknown.

Born and raised in Pretoria, he determined to broaden his horizons by deciding to play rugby in the south of France. It was a big decision to leave his family and fiancée behind, but Louis knows it was an opportunity too good to miss.

It was quite a privilege and pleasure to have the chance to get inside the head of this up-and-coming star. Sitting around his flat in Grasse listening to Afrikaans music and having a few beers, Louis opened up and told me some of his stories on how he got into the game and what it takes to become a international rugby player.

With an all too familiar ‘Ja man, you know’ his story begins…

‘I’ve been playing rugby since the age of seven and scored fourteen tries in my first game,’ the Grasse fly-half told me. But although Louis’s rugby talent was noticed he wasn’t really taken seriously. He went to primary school and played in all the A teams up to the age of twelve when he joined his school’s first team and shortly afterwards became captain.  Louis went on to play rugby at one of South Africa’s top rugby schools, Afrikaanse Hoer SeunSkool, and that’s where he flourished. Again, playing in all of his school’s A teams he was soon spotted and picked for the Craven Team – an elite squad chosen to represent the province.

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Apart from rugby in the winter months, he also made a big impact in water polo – where he received provincial colours – and as a successful athlete at 200 metres.

His big break came when he was chosen for the provincial team and then later for the under-20 international side. Louis toured to France but in the final game he dislocated his shoulder, which effectively ruled him out of the Under 20 World Cup in Argentina. ‘Then one Thursday a call came through from my agent and he wanted to know if I would like to play in France. Ja man why not, was my response’.

Louis scored 22 points for his team in his first game for Grasse and also led them to victory.

I asked Louis if there is a difference between rugby in South Africa and France. ‘Sure, the rugby in France is slower but more physical whereas in South Africa the game is much faster and more technical.  I prefer the French way because it allows me to bring pace to the game.’

He finds the Riviera and Grasse a beautiful part of the world and agrees the French are very passionate about their rugby – there’s certainly no better place to gain experience, according to Boshoff. Rugby aside, the other thing the international fly-half loves is the nightlife on the coast –  especially Nice. ‘I love the old buildings, and the French cuisine is awesome. The French really take care of their heritage, and that is something I have lots of respect for.’

Louis loves living in Grasse. The old town has so much to offer with its little boutique shops and cafés and not to mention the restaurants. The perfume museum, he says, is also worth a visit.

‘France is great and all but it’s not home. I do miss my family and especially my fiancée Karlia who is studying, but my career comes first and therefore some sacrifices had to be made.’ Talking about South Africa and his family I could see that he was feeling a bit homesick and when asked what he misses the most his answer was immediate: ‘You know, I would give anything for a can of cream soda and some biltong.’

Louis’ advice for anyone considering moving to France is that it is the best thing he has ever done and he will definitely be back for next season. Sometimes one just has to take that final step and see where life takes you and who knows what you will encounter on the way…

Emile Bolt