Auntie Avril Fillies has spoken to Stedman-Ghee Rivett Gans before they went to Canada to play in the Vancouver Sevens which they won over the weekend.
It is okay to be different from your buddies because of the choices you make and not to give in to peer pressure.
This was the advice Stedman Gans received from his dad when he was still young and an upcoming rugby player from Vredenburg on the West Coast of Cape Town.
He is one of the young guns of the SA Sevens team that was in action this weekend in the HSBC Sevens Series in Vancouver in Canada.
“Coming from a community where most men are fishermen or work in the fish industry, they are away from home for a certain period of time and are not able to fulfil their duties as fathers.
That is left to the mothers and grandmothers to raise the children. I was fortunate enough that my parents were always around and when my friends buckled under the society evils like drugs and gangsterism my father encouraged me to concentrate on my sport.
I am grateful to him for his advice and I’ve never regretted the fact that sport kept me away from the social evils.
Some of my friends were better rugby players than me but they made the choice to not pursue their rugby careers,” Stedman says.
At the age of 13 years the family moved to Pretoria and he attended
Waterkloof High where he blossomed as a rugby player.
“I always liked sevens and when we moved to Pretoria when I was 13
years old and I attended Waterkloof High I played sevens in the
off-season when the school league for 15s was completed.
While at school I moved around in the backline and the coaches used me as a scrummie, flyhalf, centre, wing or fullback.
In 2016 I was drafted into the SA Academy team under Marius Schoeman and made my debut for the Blitzboks agains Chile in 2017 in Vancouver,” Stedman says.
Vancouver is very dear to his heart as it is the tournament where he
made his debut and he is looking forward to the sixth leg on the series.
“I’ve missed out on only two tournaments and they are the Cape Town and Dubai Sevens due to concussion. As you know, the bulk of the current squad played together for two years in the Academy and one or two had a bite of the cherry in the Blitzboks the past 2018/2019 season.
The sevens world only became aware of us last year in the Hong Kong and Singapore Sevens and we were the underdogs in both tournaments.
We were written off by the so-called rugby experts in South Africa and were told that we won’t be able to fill the big boots of the senior players.
That is now water under the bridge, because we proved them wrong by being instrumental in helping the Blitzboks to be back-to-back champions,” he says.
Stedman mentioned that the transition of the young players into the
senior team is currently not happening fast enough for their fans and it is due to silly mistakes, not sticking to the game plan and the team not gelling for the duration of the 14 minutes in the game.
“We are trying our utmost best and by gaining experience together in
games the expertise will come and then we’ll do nothing wrong in the
eyes of our fan-critics.
I can assure you that when we click we won’t be compared to players like Seabelo Sentatla, Kwagga Smith, Dylan Sage, Rosko Speckman, Tim Agaba and Ruhan Nel because new names will be on their lips.
Patience is not a virtue of SA rugby fans, they want to win
now and at all cost.
With the transition of the young players into the senior team we prefer not to read what is being said on social media or listen to comments when we encounter our fans in public.
Some fans encourage us but the bulk is giving destructive critic, but just wait we’ll change their mindset sooner than later,” Stedman says.
He admires Joe Ravouvou, wing of New Zealand, for his eye for a gap and his workrate on the pitch.
“Joe was born in Fiji and is very difficult to stop and to mark and he
is my toughest opponent on the circuit.
It is easy for critics to say you must commit three players to tackle one guy, you’ll leave space for the rest of his team mates to use that space to the team’s advantage.
There is a saying that you cannot run without your legs and that is the
only way we can stop him in a game. Any team is vulnerable in a game if you don’t stick to your game plan and that is the biggest mistake that you can make.
We’ve learned our lessons in the tournament in Las Vegas and hopefully we’ll kerb our mistakes to the minimum in Vancouver,” he
The best part of being in any country is to explore it and to get a
feel of the culture and the community.
He likes to play in the snow when he is in Vancouver and try the cuisine. Maybe there is something in the water or fish on the West Coast as players that made their marks for South Africa include Ricky January, Embrose Papier and Earl Lewis, among others.
The Blitzboks did manage to put everything in place and won the Vancouver Sevens in the early hours of Monday morning.