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“Russia has long been my home.” The story of an African rugby player who settled in Siberia

Date: May 22, 2024 Time: 18:28:55

In recent days, press releases are full of reports about the strengthening of relations between Russia and Africa. In sport there are not so many links between our country and this continent, but they do exist. The most durable – in rugby. Russian rugby has recently been strengthened by athletes from South Africa, and this benefits us.

Francois Esterhuizen moved to Russia in 2019 and managed to change three clubs in a few seasons. The 27-year-old striker now plays for Yenisei-STM, with whom he recently played in the national championship final in mid-June, but lost the title to Lokomotiv Penza.

However, already on August 7, the Krasnoyarsk team will start in the new draw for the national championship. On the eve of the start of the new Yenisei season, Esterhuizen spoke to the Championship about life and work in Russia and plans for the future.

“I really didn’t know anything about Russia”

– François, you have been in Russia since 2019. And how did you end up in the Russian club? What did you know about Russia before moving here? – My contract with the previous club in South Africa has ended. A friend called me and asked if I would like to play in Russia. I accepted and only two weeks later I was already playing for CSKA. It all happened very fast.

To be honest, I didn’t really know anything about Russia or Russian rugby at the time. Well, he knew it was a bit cold in there, that’s all (laughs). But I was quite surprised, even in a state of shock, or something like that, when I realized how big cities are in Russia, especially Moscow.

– His first club in Russia was CSKA Moscow, a more than ambitious team that planned to win the Russian Championship in 2021, but as a result, the team withdrew a couple of days before the start of the season. What do you think went wrong? – Yes, CSKA was a very young team and full of great young players who wanted to work, and work hard. And we worked, we worked hard and a lot, but I think the main problem was that in most positions we just didn’t have enough experience.

François Esterhuizen

Photo: enisei-stm.ru

– After CSKA, you ended up at Dinamo in the capital. What can you say about this team? – I spent a year at Dynamo, and during this year two different head coaches worked with the team. Both, by the way, are from South Africa, which was great.

When I think about Dynamo now, some time later, it seems to me that the problems there were exactly the same as at CSKA – a huge number of young guys with burning eyes, wanting to work hard and hard, but with very modest experience. of game. This experience can only come with time. I keep watching Dynamo and now it looks very, very good, there are young players from CSKA who have improved remarkably.

– If CSKA and Dynamo were ambitious, but strangers, then their new club, Yenisei-STM, at the time of their transfer was a multiple and current champion of Russia. With what thoughts did he sign the contract? What would you call the reason for such team results?

– When I moved to Yenisei-STM, I knew for sure that I would have to work much harder than before, because, being a legionnaire in this team, I would have to be far above a simple average player. I mean, there are a lot of top-tier local players on this team, and with so much competition it’s very difficult. But I was very interested in getting into this team, I was very excited to move to this great club with such a rich culture of winning.

The first thing that simply struck me was the respect with which everyone treats not only the head coach (Alexander Pervukhin. – Approx. “Championship”), although he, of course, first of all, but also everyone in the club, to the management team. Personally, I think Enisey’s victories start with the head coach and how deeply he knows his players: all their strengths and weaknesses. He does a lot to make sure players improve, progress and know exactly what to do when they’re on the field.

Powerful interview with Alexander Pervukhin:


“People are tired of football. And we have men’s wrestling. Interview with the rugby team coach

“The level of the Russian championship is getting higher and higher”

– Why did the Yenisei-STM lose to Lokomotiv in the final of the 2022/2023 Russian Rugby Championship? – There can be many opinions about this match, and many reasons could have caused the defeat. I think we played very decently in the first half of the game, but the second half was too relaxed, or something like that. Well, a couple of controversial free kicks are not in our favor, which we can talk about more, in general, and they cost us the victory in this final.

– The new season is about to start. Of course, Yenisei-STM will try to win back the championship title. How is the preparation going? What can you say about the newcomers to the team? – Getting ready. And among the newcomers are three guys from South Africa.

Who replenished the composition of “Yenisei-STM”?

The rugby club “Enisey-STM” announced the transfer of three South Africans

– Found the times in Russia when the season passed according to the “spring-autumn” system, then “autumn-spring” (the Russian Rugby Federation has already decided to gradually return to the “spring-autumn” system. – Approx. “Championship”) . How comfortable are you playing?

“To be honest, I don’t care at all. We are all professionals and we must work with full dedication throughout the year, even during the holidays, so that when the new season begins we are prepared to give our best.

– You play hooker and flanker positions, but at the same time, you bring almost like a quarter. What is the secret? – Regardless of whether I go to the hooker or flanker position, for me personally it is always a pleasure to put on a rugby shirt and be on the field to express myself, to show who I am.

François Esterhuizen

Photo: enisei-stm.ru

– Every year more and more South African rugby players and other professionals go to Russia. Are the conditions better here? – Yes, it is quite nice to play here, the infrastructure is excellent and the level of the championship is getting higher and higher every year.

– Not so long ago, the Russian team lost to the barbarians. You brought a couple of tries, and the legionnaires team looked high over the Russians. Do you think that such a large number of strong foreigners in the championship will not create problems for young players with Russian citizenship? – I think that, on the contrary, it will only help young players with Russian citizenship to progress. To improve, you have to play with and against good players.

The match turned out to be difficult for the Russian team:


The Russian national team played rugby with the “barbarians”. International battle ended in defeat

“Moscow is a busy but beautiful city”

– Earlier you said that you are in the process of obtaining Russian citizenship. Does it have something to do with your playing career? – No. I have a family here and Russia has been my home for a long time.

– You have a Russian wife, you have children. What do you think is the best place to raise children? What language do you speak at home? – In my opinion, Russia is a little more suitable for living with children. It’s safer here. We speak three languages: Afrikaans, English and Russian. We mainly use English at home.

François Esterhuizen

Photo: enisei-stm.ru

– You have lived in Moscow and Krasnoyarsk, you have visited other Russian cities. Where are you most comfortable? Moscow is a very crowded but beautiful city. Krasnoyarsk is calmer, but the air here is far from always clean, and in winter it can be very difficult with small children, so it’s hard for me to say. Speaking from the point of view of a tourist, I choose Moscow or Sochi.

– Russia is now under sanctions and suspended from participating in international competitions. South Africa has also been in similar sporting isolation for quite some time. Today’s Russian rugby team has no one to play with except the barbarians. The clubs also do not have the opportunity to play in the European competition. In your opinion, how long will Russia have to return at least to the “second tier” level of world rugby after it becomes possible to play again? – Well, soon a couple of South Africans will be able to play in the Russian national team. And I think that over the years the team will only add up.

Interview with the hero of the Czech Republic Rugby final:


“Without a flag and an anthem, I wouldn’t go anywhere.” Interview with the hero of the Russian Rugby Championship

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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