Ricochet News

Chris Cloete’s rugby career was rejuvenated in Sri Lanka

By Marc Jacobson - Jul 5, 2017
Chris Cloete’s rugby career was rejuvenated in Sri Lanka

In an exclusive interview with SA Rugby Magazine, Southern Kings flank and former Selborne College matriculant, Chris Cloete, revealed that after a year of doubting whether his rugby career will pursue further, he was rejuvenated by playing his trade in Sri Lanka.

This is not a story about cricket, but rather about how a promising South African rugby prospect revived his career by playing the oval-ball game in World Rugby’s 41st-ranked country; for Sri Lanka’s Kandy Rugby Club in 2014.

Cloete, who played for the U18 Border Bulldogs, as well as South African Schools in 2009, before playing professionally for the Sharks XV and Western Province until 2013, contracted glandular fever that same year, which almost brought his career to a premature halt.

“I felt as though I was playing good rugby at the time [after featuring prominently in Western Province’s 2013 Vodacom Cup campaign], and was enjoying working with [WP coach] John [Dobson], but when I contracted glandular fever, I thought that might be it for my rugby career,” Cloete told SA Rugby Magazine.

The viral infection lead to fatigue and rapid weight-loss, which threw a spanner in the works of his rugby career throughout the duration of 2013, before getting an offer to play for the PE-based NMMU Madibaz in early 2014, where he earned eight Varsity Cup caps.

“I lost 10kg and it was really tough at times. It made me very weak and I wasn’t able to exercise for about six months; and that was especially challenging because my whole life has been about the outdoors and playing sport,” Cloete said.

Cloete then received a surprise offer from Sri Lanka’s Kandy Rugby Club, where he played for the rest of 2014 in the country’s Clifford Cup competition.

“Strangely enough, that’s really where I got back into my rugby. If I hadn’t gone there, I honestly don’t think I’d be where I am now. My passion for the game was reignited and it gave me a whole new outlook on what we have going for us in South African rugby,” he added.

Upon returning to South Africa in 2015, Cloete then re-joined Western Province, where he played eight matches for the union, before finding his home in PE at the Southern Kings since 2016.

The 26-year-old has been at the pinnacle of the Kings the last two seasons, especially at the breakdowns where he rose to prominence.

He earned himself a SA ‘A’ call-up last month against the French Barbarians, where he scored two tries in the second match. Cloete is still optioned to make his way into the Springbok set-up in the near future, due to his continued ‘ball-fetching’ expertise.

Image: Chris Cloete in actions for the Southern Kings against the Melbourne Rebels this year.