Fullback Garth April says his refusal to give up on a professional career paved the way for his recent rise through the rugby ranks.
April has always dreamed of playing professional rugby.
His determination to achieve this dream intensified as he was recognised as one of South Africa’s top junior players when he emerged on the provincial and national age-group scene.
He represented Boland at U16 and U18 level, before the Lions offered him the opportunity to be based in Johannesburg on a three-year contract.
He represented the Gauteng union at U18, U19, U21 and Vodacom Cup levels between 2009 and 2012. During this time, he was also selected for the SA Schools and SA U18 High Performance teams.
April then returned to Boland in 2013, where he played four Vodacom Cup games before suffering a serious knee injury. He was sidelined for the rest of the season, and released from his provincial contract in 2014.
While many professional rugby players would look for an alternative career at this stage, April refused to give up on his dream.
He enjoyed a full recovery and joined Durbell, a rugby club based in the northern suburbs in Cape Town. He helped the team excel during the 2014 season, which saw them qualify for the Community Cup.
This is where April created his second chance of securing professional career.
He was a star performer throughout the tournament, and excelled during the play-offs over the Easter Weekend, playing a leading role during Durbell’s run to the Community Cup title. He was rewarded with the Young Player of the Tournament accolade, but he received the big prize the following Sunday.
“I received the call from the team manager at Western Province, and they invited me to train with the Vodacom Cup squad that next Monday. It’s a moment I’ll never forget!” April told MyPlayers.co.za.
“It felt unreal. One moment I was playing for Durbell, the next moment I’m training with Western Province, which is a team I’ve always wanted to play for, ever since I was a kid. A few days later, I was told I’m going to start against Border.
“This made me realise… if you really want to play professional rugby, and you have the hunger, discipline and determination… you’ll make it if you make the effort. I’ve been through some tough times, but I’ll never stop giving my all to make this work.”
April made his debut for Western Province during their 34-6 victory over Border. He impressed in the No 15 jersey, and managed to score a try.
“I enjoyed the game. Scoring the try was definitely a match highlight for me,” said April. “But now the hard work begins. My provincial future is not yet secured. I’m hoping to use the Vodacom Cup as a stage to show what I’m capabale of at provincial level.
“It would be a dream come true if I can secure a contract with Western Province. Obviously, I’d have to work hard and earn it.”
April added that he appreciated all the support he has received during this journey.
“The Community Cup is a great opportunity for many young and upcoming players to show their worth. With all the exposure, guys can attract the attention of provincial selectors and coaches, which is great for South African rugby. Thanks to the organisers for creating this tournament,” said April.
“I want to thank everyone for the kind messages of support I’ve received over the past week, especially the guys at Durbell. Rugby is a team game, and all the players and coaches have worked hard to achieve success. They continue to support me during my journey, which I appreciate a lot.”