Paul Jordaan was one of the standout players in the SA Schools and SA U18 High Performance teams this season.
After impressing for Free State – the unofficial Craven Week champions – at inside centre earlier this year, Jordaan was selected for both national teams. The 18-year-old’s best display came in the SA U18’s 23-17 win over England, where he scored eight crucial points via a try and penalty. He also scored a try in SA Schools’ 92-21 win over Namibia.
‘The win against England was a great result and definitely one of my most memorable performances,’ says Jordaan, who is 1.80m and 88kg. ‘Being part of the national set-up was an excellent experience. We really played well as a team, especially against England and France, who were much bigger than us.’
Jordaan was born in Somerset East in the Eastern Cape, where he attended Gill Primary and represented EP at U12 and U13 levels in 2004 and 2005 respectively. He then became a boarder at Grey College in Bloemfontein, his father’s alma mater. He was selected for the Free State U16s in 2008 and the Free State Academy side in 2009. He made the SA Academy team in 2009 too but didn’t play because of injury.
While Jordaan has impressed at inside centre, he is also a capable flyhalf.
‘I played at 10 throughout primary school and for the EP U13s,’ he says. ‘I also played there in Grade 8. I made the switch when [SA Schools and SA U18 flyhalf] Johan Goosen came to Grey College in Grade 9.
‘I stayed at flyhalf for the first two games and Johan played at inside centre. But he didn’t do well there, so the coach decided to swap us around and that worked. I’ve played inside centre ever since.’
Grey College 1st XV coach Ingo Machts believes that inside centre is Jordaan’s ideal position.
‘I know he enjoys playing flyhalf, but he’ll need to work on his kicking out of hand if he wants to play there,’ says Machts. ‘But otherwise, he’s a complete player. He’s very physical and a great defender. He’s quick off his feet and has excellent hands.’
After matriculating, Jordaan will be with the Springbok Sevens squad from December to May, before going to the Sharks Academy. He also wants to study a BCom in marketing.
‘I’ll be competing for a place in the team for the next Sevens World Series,’ says Jordaan. ‘Then I’ll continue my career at the Sharks, who approached me at the Academy Week in 2009. My father and I took a tour of the academy that year and I liked what I saw. It wasn’t about the money, I made the decision to go there because I feel it’s a good opportunity to further my rugby career.’
By Gareth Duncan
– This article first appeared in SA Rugby magazine.