Edinburgh Rugby’s Pierre Schoeman is as popular in South Africa as he was when playing for the Vodacom Bulls. He is also respected in South African rugby circles, despite making Scotland his home.
Schoeman made a conscious decision to pursue a new challenge in Scotland and his intention when arriving in Edinburgh was always to play for Scotland once eligible.
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend was always going to select a player of Schoeman’s quality and Schoeman’s Test debut was enthusiastically applauded in the South African media as reward for consistently good performances.
Schoeman and fellow South African veteran WP Nel, another one of the South Africans to have played for Scotland, anchor a potent Edinburgh pack that has commanded a presence throughout the league.
Edinburgh finished the league in seventh position but had it not been for a result or two, they could easily have finished in the top three. The margins among the URC Final Eight play-off finalists were tight and places two to eight were only confirmed in the 18th and final round.
Schoeman, whose flaying blonde locks and bulldozing runs, quickly earned him a following at the Vodacom Bulls, comfortably won over the Edinburgh faithful who took him to heart and claimed him as one of their own.
This is a player who is loved wherever he goes.
Schoeman has embraced Edinburgh and Scotland, but never denied his passion for South Africa. It would not be inaccurate to say that the big front rower has two homes, one in the northern hemisphere and one in the south.
But when it comes to rugby, he has only one home, and that is in the front row of Edinburgh Rugby’s Vodacom URC challenge.
Schoeman acknowledged that Edinburgh Rugby would have to be at their best to beat the DHL Stormers in Cape Town, but said the entire squad had belief on the basis of what they produced against the Cell C Sharks in Durban.
Few had given Edinburgh a chance of victory but in the rain it was the Scots doing the dance as they thumped the South African hosts 21-5.
The DHL Stormers players have spoken with reverence about the quality of Schoeman and his Edinburgh teammates. The two teams drew 20-all earlier in the season and the respect on either side has been earned.
Schoeman, in addressing the media, was full of praise for the DHL Stormers players and he acknowledged the potency of the home team’s backs in scoring tries.
‘The Stormers props are going well. Steven Kitshoff speaks for himself, he is doing really well. Frans Malherbe gets paid the big bucks because he is a good tighthead and Neethling Fouche has done very well, especially this season.
‘Personally, it is nice to go against, not only big names, but world-class players. That’s how you measure yourself, that’s why we all play and train and try to get better, is to play in these big games and big moments, a quarter-final; a set piece where you go against each other, that’s where you want to be playing.”