Paige's persistence pays off
Pretoria - Despite showing immense promise in his early career, Bulls scrumhalf Rudy Paige had to bide his time as a senior before making the step-up into the big leagues.
“It gives you the opportunity to remain sharp and improve as a player and in a sense Vodacom Cup is crucial to South African rugby,” said Paige.
“Unfortunately it does not get the coverage it deserves but it allows you to work on your game at a very high level.”
The 25-year-old used the five years that he played Vodacom Cup to hone his skills and live up to his true potential.
The diminutive halfback shone for the Golden Lions at age-group level before captaining the SA School side and went on to play for the Junior Springboks and SA Students.
“I would have obviously liked to play Super Rugby at a higher level sooner, but not everybody is that lucky,” said Paige.
“I am just one of those guys that had to climb every step to get to where I am. Some players are fortunate enough to get the opportunity early, while others have to wait patiently.”
He made his Vodacom Cup debut for the Golden Lions in 2010 before making his maiden Currie Cup appearance the following year.
Paige, however, continued to slug it out in Vodacom Cup featuring for the Johannesburg-based side in 2011 and 2012.
In 2013 he crossed the Jukskei river to join the Blue Bulls where he made his debut for the Pretoria side in the Vodacom Cup competition.
Paige said although it was a frustrating process, he believed the experience ultimately moulded him into a better player.
“The Vodacom Cup is part of the progress as the jump from Varsity Cup to Super Rugby for instance is too big, so it kind of bridges that gap,” he said.
He finally got his break during the 2013 Super Rugby season where he made his debut for the Bulls against the Cheetahs in Pretoria. During both the 2013 and 2014 he played mostly off the bench.
He produced compelling performances during the 2014 Currie Cup which earned him earn a national call-up for the Springboks’ final Outgoing Tour match against Wales.
However, his hopes of making his Bok debut were dashed when he suffered an ankle injury in training before the match.
Paige’s star is continuing to rise and is a regular starter for the Bulls during this year’s Super Rugby competition.
His story that continues to be written is proof that the Vodacom Cup is the breeding of South Africa’s future rugby talent.