Fort Hare's Garth van Rayner - who, on Monday, was named as the first-ever Varsity Shield Player that Rocks - is no stranger to top-level rugby having played for provincial representative teams since his Under-16 days.
The electric and tenacious Fort Hare Blues winger impressed all and sundry in his five games in the first season of Varsity Shield action.
A true son of the Eastern Cape, he was the most lethal weapon in an exciting Fort Hare backline which stood back to nobody.
Garth's love for rugby started at an early age, when he was at primary school in Somerset East, where he grew up.
"I went to school at St. Teresa's primary and that is where I started playing rugby in the Under-9 age-group," he told varsitycup.co.za this week, having been handed his award at Monday's Shield Final in Johannesburg.
It did not take long for this livewire try-machine to be spotted by provincial age-group selectors and he was already representing Eastern Province at rugby by the time he was 15.
"My first provincial team that I played for was in Under-16 when I went to the Grant Khomo week to play for EP," he explained.
After school Van Rayner branched out of his home province to a completely different environment, where he would rub shoulders with some fine young talent and a certain future Springbok wing.
He explained: "I played in the 2007 Craven Week for EP and then after school I went to the Griquas academy in Kimberley for two years.
"I was there with Bjorn Basson, he was a year above me at the academy but he is a bit faster than me!"
The explosive runner represented Griquas for two years before returning to his home province, and a different rugby academy.
"In 2008 and 2009 I played for the Griquas Under-19 and Under-21 teams before I went to the SA Legends Academy in East London where I played for Border Under-21s last year," he said.
Then came the chance to play for For Hare in the 2011 Varsity Shield...
As it turns out, Van Rayner missed the first few games of the inaugural Shield competition because he was in New Zealand getting some expert coaching from some of the greats of the game.
"I was picked for a South African team that went over to New Zealand to play against the Murray Mexted Academy team," he revealed.
"We were there for two weeks and there were ex-All Blacks and Australian coaches that coached us. It was a great experience."
When he returned from New Zealand, Van Rayner wasted no time in making an impact on the Varsity Shield with Fort Hare, where he plans to study next year.
"I have really enjoyed playing in the Varsity Shield and I have enjoyed playing each and every one of my five games. Next year I am going to start studying Human Movement Science at Fort Hare," he said.
And with a speedster like Van Rayner in their squad once again, there is no doubt Fort Hare will continue to make even more waves next season!
By Michael de Vries