Festival time in Edinburgh is the perfect stage for a man who has been labelled “The Greatest Schoeman” and the irrepressible loosehead was on sparkling form yesterday by the glittering Leith Shore.
The South Africa-born prop Pierre Schoeman was modelling the new Edinburgh kit for the forthcoming Guinness Pro14 season, which will start under the shadow of the Rugby World Cup.
Schoeman, 25, has been an impressive addition to head coach Richard Cockerill’s squad and the former Junior Springbok has made no secret of the fact he is focused on earning international recognition for his adopted homeland despite having to wait out four more years of the now extended World Rugby residency laws.
The former Blue Bulls man was Edinburgh’s player of the year last season and has provided an entertaining addition to the Scottish rugby public, both in press interviews and on social media as he showcases how he and wife Charissa have relished their new life in the capital. “I’ve been going exploring, to a zoo near Stirling with some wildlife and African animals,” explained Schoeman yesterday about his endless thirst for experiences in his new country.
“Me and the missus love the Fringe a lot. We had a magician who asked me on an ‘off’ [training] week that he was going to lie under glass and I should just walk over him and I just whispered in his ear ‘Mate, I don’t think this is a good idea, it’s an off week for the front rows and we have been eating’.”
Despite those occasional Fringe binges, Schoeman said he was fighting fit ahead of the first pre-season hit-out against London Scottish at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.
“I’m feeling fit. If you’re not fit after months pre-season with Coach Cockers then there’s something wrong.” said Schoeman with a smile.
“It was good to condition the body. With the Scotland boys being away at World Cup training it’s been good to get the young boys getting some reps [training repetitions] in too. It’s almost been like army. But it’s what you get paid to do and it’s a blessing.
“I must say, it’s been nice being in Edinburgh in this nice weather. On the weekends, off times, which you don’t get much of with Coach Cockers, it’s been good having time with the boys.
“It’s a privilege to go to somewhere like St Andrews on a training camp but it’s also the toughest part of pre-season. We’ve been to North Berwick as well, for the dunes and a swimming and beach session which was quite tough.
“But it’s nice to get out of Murrayfield. It’s a nice place but if you’re there 24-7 it’s nice to get out into the nature. The change of scenery is awesome. We’ve got some team-building activities going on.”
An Edinburgh Rugby statement on their new Macron home and away kits said: “Following on from last season’s decision to adopt a new brand identity – signalling a new chapter for the club in the modern game – this year’s design sees Macron further develop that style to create a bold and classic collection.
“The home jersey remains predominantly in the club’s principle colour of navy blue, but includes an added pattern of striking white and orange horizontal stripes across the main body.”
Schoeman has one game under his belt already after Edinburgh took on the Scotland World Cup squad in a closed-doors game at Oriam. “It was quite full on,” revealed the loosehead.
“The scrums were uncontested, which I was quite glad about against someone like [Edinburgh and Scotland tighthead] WP [Nel] at the age of almost 40!” [Nel is actually only 33]. Before games like that it’s all ‘Don’t go too hard’ and then as soon as someone niggles you then it is full-on, actually.”