Player Profile: Izak Du Plooy
1. How long have you been playing rugby?
I started out pretty late for a South African kid, around 9 years old, but I started to take it seriously at around the age of 15.
2. What other clubs have you played for?
I played for Piet Retief Rugby Club for about 10 years. We will be playing against them on the tour to South Africa. I also played for Northern Natal U/21 and the Northern Natal Senior Team.
3. What’s your proudest accomplishment/moment in rugby so far?
I would say it is a tie between 2:
• My old club won the Cup in our league. We went through to play against some big teams in SA rugby. We were the underdogs and made it all the way to the playoffs in that league. Driving to the game the radio announcer referred to us as “The Giant Slayers”.
• When I played for Northern Natal, we played the opening game for the Sharks and the Crusaders on the Kings Park Stadium in Durban.
4. What do you hope to accomplish in your rugby career going forward?
Right now, I am just hoping to get a few more fun years of playing in. I am also starting to focus more on coaching as I recently started at La Salle University. It feels great to be able to coach again as it is something that I loved doing in SA.
5. Is it true that seeing Takudzwa Ngenya roast Brian Habana in the Rugby World Cup in 2007 is what inspired you to come play rugby here in the US?
As soon as I saw that I packed my bags, but then I promptly unpacked when SA won 64-15. Ha-ha, nevertheless what a great moment in world rugby.
6. What are some of your favorite cheesesteak places that you’ve discovered around the city?
Sonny’s and Steve’s. Sonny’s because it was my 1st cheesesteak and Steve’s because nothing tastes as good after 2 in the morning.
7. At my wedding, we numbered the tables and assigned each table to a pro rugby player based on position. We’ve discussed this previously and you’ve contemplated stealing the idea. What’s your top 15 looking like right now?
1. Os du Randt 2. Keven Mealamu 3. Gethin Jenkins 4. Martin Johnson 5. Victor Matfield 6. Schalk Burger 7. Richie McCaw 8. David Pocock 9. George Gregan 10. Dan Carter 11. Brian Habana 12. Jean De Villiers 13. Brian O’Driscoll 14. Shane Williams 15. Andre Joubert.
8. What made you decide to join Schuylkill River?
I initially wanted to play just one game on American soil when I came to visit in June 2016. I called up USA Rugby and asked for a D1 club and they recommend Schuylkill River. I kept the number for if I ever came back. Well here I am…
9. Did you have any impressions of Philadelphia rugby before you joined our Club?
Before I joined the club, I did not expect much because everyone that I asked about rugby knew little to nothing about it. It was a welcome surprise when I joined and the team had some serious players.
10. How has your opinion of what Philadelphia rugby means developed since you’ve joined us and how do you personally try to embody those ideals?
I have come to learn that the guys are tough as nails and they have a strong family-like bond (as rugby should have). I try and promote our club as much as possible and I try to help wherever I can.
11. What is an interesting fact about you that your teammates would be surprised to hear?
It’s about a foot, foot and a half. Ha-ha on the serious side probably just African stuff, I have swum with sharks, I have been kissed by an elephant in the face – and I have played with Cheetahs and Tigers. (Like most of you will be doing on the tour.)
12. If my interviewees are involved in some sort of business I usually give them an opportunity to promote themselves a little bit. Can you tell us about the beef jerky (sorry if that’s not entirely accurate) business that you’re in the process of starting up?
Biltong is a Traditional South African beef snack. It is meat (sirloin steak) that is cured and dried, not cooked or heated. On top of it being delicious, it is high in protein, at 16g per ounce. It has low levels of carbohydrates and sugars (less than 1g per ounce). Biltong has no MSG, no sodium nitrate and no artificial preservatives, colorings or flavorings. I recently started making it on my own in the US and I must admit that I do a damn good job. I am still working on the business part. More to come soon.
13. When you first joined our Club you quickly became friends with James Teti and Brad Selman, do you think hanging out with these maniacs helped prepare you for life in Philadelphia?
I have no affiliation with these degenerates. Ha-ha yeah, Thor taught me how to enjoy a good beer and I taught him what he knows about brandy.
14. Were you a fan of American football before coming to Philadelphia and what was it like being around to experience the Eagles winning their first Super Bowl and the euphoria that came along with it?
I was always fascinated by the sport, but did not watch it as much. I played a lot of Madden growing up so I knew most of the rules. I followed this season and what a season it was, GO BIRDS!! The excitement was very similar to South Africa winning the world cup. I love sport and how it brings people together.
15. Our Club features multiple men’s sides in league play for 15s, several 7s sides including a dedicated U-23 team and involvement with multiple local high school programs. As a player with international experience and perspective how do you think this structure benefits us and does it remind you of the clubs you grew up with?
The setup of the rugby here is very impressive, I was surprised at how well the 7’s program does too. All the clubs in SA mostly have a D1 and D2 team. D2 plays first on game day, the best players on the day get chosen to be on the bench for D1. This gives D2 some experienced players in their game and it ensures that everyone on the D1 side do not get too comfortable with someone gunning for their position. Most of the rugby I played in SA was 15’s, we played 7’s tournaments for fun every now and again.
16. As someone who was new to the area how did our Club culture help you settle in, make friends, and find a place in this city where you could be comfortable knowing you had a good support group around you?
I have made a lot of good friends through Schuylkill Rugby and it feels great to have people you can count on. It is hard to get to know people, but through rugby it was very easy.
17. There are all sorts of rumors that back in South Africa you were a total wild man, how nervous are you right now about what we’re going to dig up when we go there next month?
Ha-ha, I will let everyone judge for themselves when they meet the people I grew up with.
18. You are more or less the reason that our Club is taking that trip to South Africa. How does it feel to get to bring 30 guys to your homeland for an experience that you personally put together?
I have put a lot of time and effort into this trip and just want the guys to have the time of their lives. I hope it brings the club closer together and makes us an even stronger group. A strong group off the field is a force to be reckoned with on the field.
19. What are you most looking forward to on that trip?
I am looking forward to a bunch of stuff like teaching everyone to drink a brandy, but I would say mostly I am looking forward to the game against my old club.
20. Last question, are you jealous of the fact that in 2011 I went to USA 7s in Las Vegas and got to take photos with the South African team after they won the tournament and I got to hold the trophy?
This interview is over.