Flip van der Merwe was born in Potchefstroom and went to Grey College in Bloemfontein, he also started with the Free State Cheetahs where he made his first class debut for them in the Vodacom Cup. Later that year he also made his debut for the Cheetahs in the Currie Cup and in 2007 he made his Super Rugby appearance for the Cheetahs as well.
In 2009 Flip joined the Bulls in Pretoria and in 2010 got his first call-up to the national side. Flip played 75 matches for the Bulls in Super Rugby. Flip joined Clermont in 2015 where he is now playing his rugby. Benedict Chanakira caught up with him…..
BC – Hi Flip, How are you?
Flip – Life’s good thanks, still recovering after a hard fought battle against Toulon over the weekend and the rainy weather in Clermont makes you miss pancake and beskuit.
BC – How has been your time in France?
Flip – It has been one of the most important moves I have made in my rugby career. I got jolted out of my comfort zone very quickly in France. Struggled with the culture and language at the start and another knee injury didn’t make things easy, but I’m finding my feet know nicely and starting to play better every week.
BC – Who do you hang around with, when you are in France?
Flip – We have good mix of players here at Clermont, so it’s easy to make friends and hang with all the players. Ex-Cheetahs front rower Daniel Kotze helps me get around a lot. My brother is also just 3 hours north of me in Paris so it is good to spend time with his family.
BC – How does it feel to be a Springbok?
Flip – It is indescribable
BC – How has your time at Clermont been like?
Flip – There is a reason Clermont has been the top French club for many a year. It is the most professional setup I have been involved in, Bulls included. We work very hard and get looked after equally well. They simplify rugby here, if you win the going is easy.
BC – You left South Africa suddenly. Some even felt you deserved a spot in the 30 man World Cup squad. Will you be able to clear the air on what happened during that time? You made yourself unavailable for the Springboks?
Flip – When I signed with Clermont I told them that I would come over if I did not make the WC squad, the Bulls granted me the leave so I could come earlier. 2015; was a difficult year for me. I had a couple of injuries and never really got on track, the fact that I lost my Springbok contract midway through my recovery also didn’t help the mental aspect. In the end I think they chose the best players at the time to represent the Springboks.
BC – What was the toughest time in your career in South Africa?
Flip – I was in the final squads for both the 2011 and 2015 World Cups and was involved in almost every game in between so it will always be a bitter pill to swallow not to have attended a World Cup.
BC – Who has been your toughest opponent?
Flip – I will always have massive respect for the Crusaders and All Black packs I played against, they demanded the very best from you.
BC – A story from tour?
Flip – Staunch believer in what goes on tour stays on tour….. And contrary to popular belief we actually do work hard to get the wins when we leave on tour. To keep control of 30 big men on tour some beers are sometimes needed…
BC – If you are to change anything in the current systems of South African Rugby, what would they be to improve the lives and conditions the players play in?
Flip – Look better after the players. That said I think there is way too many professional rugby players in SA. Too many agents/clubs sell the dream of being a professional player and then players end up at 23/24 even older without any club, qualifications or plan. I don’t think the necessary mental and life coaching is in place to make successful people out of players.
A change in the rugby schedule is also needed, I recon the general South African public is tired of rugby. Just putting it out there for reconsideration but having a beer on the stand makes watching live rugby a lot better…
|Full name||Phillip Rudolph van der Merwe|
|Born||(1985-06-03) 3 June 1985
Potchefstroom, South Africa
|Height||1.98 m (6 ft 6 in)|
|Weight||126 kg (19 st 12 lb)|
|School(s) attended||Grey College, Bloemfontein|
|University||University of the Free State|
|Relatives||Flippie van der Merwe (father)|
|2004–06||Free State Cheetahs|
|2006–09||Free State Cheetahs||36||(10)|
|* Senior club appearances and points correct as of 23 June 2015.
† Appearances (Points).‡ Representative team caps and points correct as of 25 July 2015