Pierre Schoeman desperate to join Scotland’s South African contingent when he qualifies in July
Like it or loathe it, the South African flavour remains strong in the Scotland set-up and looks likely to become more pronounced in the summer when Pierre Schoeman qualifies on residency grounds.
The Edinburgh prop is not presumptuous enough to assume he will walk straight into Gregor Townsend’s squad but his club coach was less reticent.
Speaking last month, Richard Cockerill suggested that Schoeman and his Edinburgh team-mate Rory Sutherland would be first and second choice looseheads for Scotland next season.
Six South Africans have featured in Townsend’s Six Nations squads this season, with Duhan van der Merwe now established as a mainstay of the starting XV and Oli Kebble, WP Nel and Jaco van der Walt among the subs.
Schoeman has found their performances inspiring and would love to join them. He has been particularly impressed by van der Merwe and believes his Edinburgh team-mate is a realistic contender for Lions selection for this summer’s series against… South Africa.
“I’ve been massively impressed by them,” Schoeman said of his compatriots. “With the likes of Oli, Duhan and Jaco, they’ve been massive in the Scotland setup. I’m very proud of them.
“If you look at how well Duhan is playing at the moment, with his British and Irish Lions chances as well, it’s very inspiring and motivational to watch these guys.”
Watching his compatriots wearing dark blue can sometimes be frustrating for Schoeman because he is desperate to get out on the pitch and join them.
“You almost can’t sit in front of the telly and watch with your wife, because you just want to go outside and hit a tree or something. You just want to play as well.”
The former Bulls prop arrived in Edinburgh in summer 2018 and says he was first bitten by the Scotland bug later that year when South Africa played in the capital
“When the lights went off, the music starts and the whole crowd sing together… that was quite emotional to think that one day you can maybe play for Scotland,” he said.
“I am eligible in July. So, all of a sudden, it can really become a reality if you’re good enough.”
Before that can happen, Schoeman hopes to be able to play in the Rainbow Cup, the proposed new tournament which brings together Pro14 clubs and those from Super Rugby in his homeland and is due to kick off on April 17.
With uncertainty around travel and concerns about the South African variant of Covid-19, a question mark hangs over the competition but Schoeman is happy to report that things are looking a little brighter in South Africa.
“They are in the easiest phase of lockdown in Level 1. Sport is going ahead, schools are open and you can go to restaurants. I think the UK is more scared of the South African strain getting in here. So I don’t know about the chances of the Pro 14 sides travelling over there.
“We’ve heard rumours about South African sides basing themselves in Ireland or the matches being played on neutral ground in Dubai. Most of the guys I know at the Bulls with Jake White said they are going to have a base set up in Ireland but it’s still too soon to say.”