Aspneumothorax is not a word you hear every day, but for Blitzbok captain Kyle Brown it became part of his lexicon three weeks ago when he suffered the lung condition playing in the Vancouver leg of the World Sevens Series.
He was forced to stay behind after the tournament and spent two weeks alone in a hotel in an unfamiliar city recuperating from the effects of air being trapped between the lungs and chest wall. The condition was the result of a knock he took and given the chance that his lungs could collapse if the air expanded, it was recommended he not fly immediately following the tournament.
While he missed his wife due to the unexpected delay, there was time to reflect on life and his career, which is now entering its final phase.
The FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International won’t feature in Brown’s future as a player but the tournament certainly played a huge role in his past.
He was a member of the 2008 FNB Ikeys team under current Western Province Currie Cup coach John Dobson that lost in the final against FNB Maties in Stellenbosch. Brown, a tough openside flank, wasn’t even a regular starter but continuously made an impact off the bench.
He describes the season as one of the happiest of his career, although the fact that the final was played in Stellenbosch and not on FNB Ikeys’ home patch still rankles eight years on.
“I was a student at University of Cape Town in 2007 and 2008 and Varsity Cup was a new product at the time,” Brown says.
“At the beginning of the tournament no one gave us a chance – I think we were ranked eighth to start. But we won our round robin matches and ended up qualifying for a home semi-final against Pukke. We won with the last kick of the game from a Matt Rosslee penalty and should’ve had a home final on ranking.
“Unfortunately because our floodlights were not good enough, we had to play against Maties in Stellenbosch.
“No one knew how the tournament would turn out but looking back it was bloody awesome. We had such a good time and such a good team – a lot of whom have gone on to play provincial rugby.
“I was pretty lucky to be involved with a squad like that. It had a big impact on my future.”
Due to his Varsity Cup exploits Brown earned a call up to the WP under-21 team but only featured for seven minutes the entire season. He was super fit but never enjoyed playing time.
“My path into sevens came from Varsity Cup,” Brown says. “In September of 2008, Dobbo (John Dobson) started testing the Ikeys squad for the following season’s Varsity Cup.
“I was in great nick having trained hard with the WP under-21s but never played. My results from the Sports Science Institute were really good. One of the doctors sent my results to SA Sevens fitness coach Allan Temple-Jones.
“Within a few days then Blitzbok coach Paul Treu left a voicemail asking if I wanted to come down to a session with them in Bellville. I thought it was a prank call but I went down and the next week I was picked for a secondary tournament in Singapore.
“I’ve not played a fifteens game since. I guess the Varsity Cup played a significant role in my career.”
By Craig Ray