Positivity with Pierre
'He plays with a smile on his face' is not a phrase that is generally associated with prop forwards in modern day rugby, however it is a phrase that sums up everything about the way Pierre Schoeman approaches the game, and life - writes James Parsons.
Since joining Edinburgh in 2018, Schoeman has cemented himself as a firm favourite for fans of the capital club. Devastating at scrum-time, and ferocious with ball-in-hand, the loosehead has become a mainstay in the Edinburgh match day squad.
Last month Pierre hit the milestone of 50 caps for Edinburgh, and it was a moment, despite the result, that will stay with the man from Mbombela.
“I was so proud of it, it just shows you how far you can go when given the chance”, says Schoeman.
“It’s special to play all those games with the team, I’ve been playing with the guys every day and every match, and you form a family. They’re all my brothers."
Schoeman’s brand of rugby can be enthralling to watch, and hard not to enjoy. His enjoyment of playing rugby is there for all to see, epitomised by his exuberant 'Swan-dive' try celebration in a recent home match against Connacht.
“Growing up all I wanted to do was play rugby, even if it’s in as cold and wet a place as Scotland”, says Schoeman, chuckling.
“It’s still amazing that I get to play against guys like Johnny Sexton and Alun Wyn Jones every week, guys I grew up watching.
“I’m getting to do my passion as a job, life goes on, but I get to live my passion every week. It’s why I’m so happy all the time, because I’m doing what I love.
“There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with the job too. We’re blessed to do what we do, and to be able to put our bodies on the line for the team.”
The positivity of the lively prop is always on show, and in a year that has been challenging for all of us, it is the kind of positivity that we all need.
One of the secrets behind Schoeman’s positivity is being able to define what joy and happiness really mean, and the difference between the two.
“It’s hard to stay positive sometimes, it’s been a tough year. I actually talk to Nic Groom about this a lot, we chat about the difference between happiness and joy.
“You can have joy in your heart when things are going badly. We create happiness ourselves by things that are happening around us, like a promotion or a new car, but you can still have joy and be content without those things.
“For example, I have joy in my faith, and have joy in my family and with my mates, if it’s getting a beer or going for a coffee. When bad things happen, you still have that joy. It’s mentally tough, but that helps me.”
Like most of us, Pierre is gearing up for a different Christmas, although he might be one of the few people in Scotland exercising on Friday!
“I might have to be on the Watt Bike for Christmas, if I look at a beer or a donut I gain weight!
“It’s a shame, because family would have come to visit, but we’ll take it day by day. It’ll probably just be myself, my wife and the dog for Christmas, so I might have to get more presents to keep the smiles going!”
While Pierre’s family won’t be able to visit for Christmas, the prop has been able to bring a bit of South Africa to Scotland, having set up a new business that sells Boerewors, Billtong, and other South African snacks.
“During lockdown my wife and some friends started the Proper Pioneer, to share our passion and food with people. It has been great, it’s not just South Africans who have been buying from us but also Scottish people too.
“The company is standing up on its own legs now, so I can focus on my rugby! In Scotland there are 4,000 South Africans already, and they’re really enjoying the food, but it’s great having new people try it too.”
Before ending the interview, Schoeman wanted to give a message to all of the Edinburgh fans and their families:
“It is a tough and challenging time, but it shows us the value of our relationships more than before, we maybe took them for granted. The most important thing is the people you love, and having hope that things will be better.
“I think we need more sun and laugh more… and with no sun in Scotland we just need to laugh even more!”