Boland Cavaliers have produced some household names with Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks and Stefan Terblanche among the most notable.
The side won the Currie Cup First Division in 2011 and have not reached similar heights since then. The rebuilding process is now in full motion, and Benedict Chanakira managed to catch up with one of their new acquisitions Roderick Dalton.
It’s not any ordinary story, it’s a story of a perseverance, realising what matters most and a dream realized.
You spend some time with the Boland Cavaliers’ new recruit and you are left with a dose of inspiration and you just laud the determination, belief and perseverance.
A myriad of emotions throughout our time as Roderick Dalton tells his story. To start it all off we find out who this young man is. A husband, father, rugby player and a man looking to serve God in all his actions!
One small glance at Dalton and you could mistake the 2m tall man with Eben Etzebeth. The two trained together when Dalton was part of the Western Province squad in 2012.
Funny enough both players are locks! Dalton has a strong attachment to his family and friends. His father taught him the game from the age of 5 years.
Dalton credits the game as a catalyst to his strong will power, belief and how it has managing to shape him into the man he is.
His rugby career started off in KwaZulu Natal at the Vikings Christian Rugby Academy.
Now this was the unorthodox pathway to the top. No Craven Week, skinny, scrawny yet full of passion Dalton made strides under the tutelage of the Academy’s coaches.
Dalton managed to develop and was growing as a player and a man. This was part of the Academy mission which sought to focus on the man as well and not just the player.
While the chances of a player making a breakthrough remained slim, Dalton had the belief. He went on to assume a leadership role within the academy and on the club scene in KZN whilst playing in the First Division for South Coast Warriors.
Selection in the KwaZulu Natal Amateurs side followed along with stints at Valke and Griquas u21.
‘Playing for these teams allowed me to adjust to the different game plans and environments, said Dalton.
I also realized that this rugby career could end in a split second. Every minute I played I cherished greatly. I decided to pursue other interests and found myself in Cape Town.
I was engaged to Maryke and this was my number one fan! I soon found myself in the Western Province Amateurs squad and an opportunity arose to train with my beloved Western Province as I prepared for the 2012 Vodacom Cup!
My failure to break through and get game time after three months saw me receive an opportunity to play a bit of rugby in Ireland on a sort of loan.
It was one of the best experiences of my life as I managed to learn about a new culture; new training methods and I believed my return to South Africa; would be as a better player!’
All of a sudden the tone changes, you could feel the heavy heart. His world seemed to collapse and he recollects how hope and any fight in him were lost.
‘It was a huge blow as my father in law passed on. Now this was tough to take as we had grown very close. He always had me believing I had the two best dads ever!’
Now Dromore Rugby Club, my team offered to cover my flights back to South Africa. This would have allowed me to make my fiancée’s father’s funeral.
It was a tough time for me and I had to support her too. I returned to South Africa and had to deal with everything. I also fulfilled his desire to see me marry his daughter and make sure she would not take precedence over my rugby.
I picked up all the pieces and my rugby took a nose dive, I requested playing in the Durbanville second team in 2013 and my poor form vindicated my request.’
The sadness still evident, yet a ray of sunshine ensued. A smile creeps in as he described finally rediscovering his way. A new leash to life.
In 2014, it all started to take a turn for the better as the birth of his daughter revived his life. ‘It was a complete blessing, I held her for the first time in my rugby gear after a game.
I played rugby that day and made it in time to be there for my wife. Our daughter was born the day of our first anniversary.
This was by far a blessing no one expected and this saw me turn down the opportunity to play in the Vodacom Cup for Western Province and in Italy. I had to focus on what was dear to my family at the time.
We had to make this work; having this baby changed everything.
I dislocated my shoulder 3 weeks after her birth and could not return to the playing field before 2015.
In this rehab phase I found myself in dark places. Having the bad times all sport athletes have when injured. Upon my return I vowed to play and do anything for my wife and daughter.
The Boland Cavaliers offer came and now I work full time and have a full time contract with Boland. I have not found my true form as yet to play to the best of my ability and still trying to get confidence and my shoulder is recuperating well.
Boland have started quite slowly and I am happy that we managed to produce a much needed result this weekend.’
A story of a warrior that has realized that rugby is just a game. A game we love, but life has so much more to offer. His belief in God and the motivation that his family and friends offer is what drives him. There are millions of youngsters who solely focus on just the game.
Life is so much more as the Boland man has highlighted!
These stories are rare and could serve as an inspiration to a youngster out there.