By George Byron
A DREAM has come true for former Grey High schoolboy and current Free State rugby hooker Michael van Vuuren who has signed a lucrative “big money” two-year contract to play for the world-famous Stade Francais club.
The big-spending French outfit, who are known as the Manchester United of French rugby and regularly play in front of 80 000 fans at France’s national stadium Stade de France, have had their sights on Van Vuuren for some time. Van Vuuren, 20, who played for the EP Craven week team and the Grey 1st XV in 2008 and 2009, made a name for himself while playing hooker for the Springbok under-20 team at the IRB Junior World Championship.
The Port Elizabeth-born forward’s name was put forward to Stade Francais by the South African-born former French prop Pieter de Villiers who worked with Van Vuuren at Investec Academy last year.
“Pieter’s decision to put my name forward to Stade Francais played a big role in me receiving the offer from the club. My goal is to treat this as a learning curve. I am still young and desperately keen to learn,” he said.
Asked why he had decided to move on, Van Vuuren said he felt the time had arrived for a new challenge. “I’m still young so now is probably the best time for me to go away for a few years and develop my game in key areas like scrum work and tight phases of play.” Van Vuuren says he has not turned his back on South Africa and still dreams of playing for the Boks.
This is a shortened version of an article that first appeared in the print edition of Weekend Post on Saturday April 28, 2012.