UWC law graduate, Brandon Valentyn, from Kraaifontein, will strut his stuff at Mbombela Stadium in November, after signing a two year contract with the Pumas Rugby Club, last month.
The 26-year-old Valentyn joins the Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup giants, Pumas, after a successful, but short season, due to the Covid19 pandemic, with the Paraguay-based Olimpia Lions.
Valentyn said he found out about the deal a month ago and his agent, Dylan Coll recently made the deal public.
“At first I was uncertain but I prayed about it and I believe it’s a good move and it can be the start of a new chapter in my life.
“My aim for the new team is to continue to make sure that every training session and game is better than the previous one and to always bring something extra to the team,” he said.
The former UWC and Maties player, represented both of the institution’s rugby teams, in the Varsity Shield and Varsity Cup, as well as both the Western Province and Boland Cavaliers, in the Currie Cup and SuperSport Rugby Challenge, for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons.
Prior to joining the provincial and varsity teams, he kicked off his rugby career at Simonsberg Primary School at the age of 13. He then joined Monument Park High School. And, after high school, the young lad set a goal for himself.
During the lockdown, Valentyn stayed active with a couple of training drills at home. He did, however, as an act of generosity, join the Be The Difference foundation, an NPO around Kraaifontein, during their community uplift programmes.
“The first match I played for the provincial team was for Boland against Border Bulldogs up in East London. Making my debut was a great achievement for myself because never had I thought I would play provincial rugby. I remember it like it was yesterday. Once I saw it happen I felt like I could reach higher and achieve more,” he said.
When Valentyn was approached by former UWC and Springbok coach, Peter de Villiers to play for UWC in 2015, he said it was one of the stepping stones to his rugby career.
“It set off my passion to an even higher level for myself. The career that I have right now started in 2015 when I was approached by Peter de Villiers.
“My highlight in Varsity Cup and Varsity Shield would definitely be scoring my first try for the UWC team in 2015. And then playing that game in front of so many students who came out to support us,” he said.
Valentyn said another moment he cherishes was playing under the guidance of the late Springbok winger, World Cup Rugby champion and former UWC coach, Chester Williams.
“The two of us had a really good relationship. And you always look up to Chester because he is an icon in rugby because of the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
“Another highlight would be singing the national anthem at Danie Craven, for Stellenbosch or Maties, in front of a 15 000 strong crowd,” he said.
Valentyn said his success in the varsity setup and provincial teams earned him a short term contract with Super Liga Americana side, Olimpia Lions, last year.
“Playing in Paraguay was definitely a leap of faith I took. I was going to a country I didn’t know anything about. But I must say my time there was great. I enjoyed every second of it.
“The level of physicality and training was quite high. I had to adapt to make the opportunity count. I got to play against Argentinians, and other experienced guys who played in the World Cup and for other teams around the world,” he said.
Valentyn, acknowledged the abundance of support he received from his family and friends, after his rugby career, he hopes to put his law degree to practise.
He said it was a difficult decision for the president to make when he postponed all active sports including rugby during the lockdown, however, it was to the health interest of all South Africans.
And with rugby clubs resuming practice this week, Valentyn was more than excited, both as a player and supporter of the game.
“Staying active during a lockdown is extremely difficult because you are so used to getting a schedule that you follow. Now I follow a home gym programme, which includes homemade weights made with bricks, buckets of sand, bottles of water, stretching, some squats, and running in the yard. Hopefully now with Level 4, I can be able to get on the field for a jog. Hopefully, we pray that this will all end soon,” he said.
“Stay as close as possible to God and everything else will work out according to his will. You might have the plan but God will always prevail. If you want to be the best doctor, accountant, or rugby player, you need to make sure that you put in the work so that you can become the best of what you want to do. Because you won’t be the only one that wants to be the best, so you need to do something extra that sets you above from the rest,” said Valentyn.