Cape Town - Boland hooker Clemen Lewis will make his 150th appearance for the Cavaliers during the SuperSport Rugby Challenge this weekend and is set to become the most-capped player in the union’s 78-year history later this season.
Lewis started his professional rugby career after matriculating at Boland Agriculture school in 2001. He played for the Western Province U19s in 2002 before joining the Blue Bulls in 2003, where he played age-group and Vodacom Cup rugby. He then returned to his hometown Wellington, where he signed for Boland in 2005.
The 33-year-old has been a proud servant of Boland rugby over the past 12 years, with highlights that include winning the Currie Cup First Division title in 2011, being called up to the Stormers training squad and playing against the British and Irish Lions in 2009.
He will now play his 150th game this weekend. He is also expected to become the most-capped player in Boland’s history should he overtake scrumhalf Neil Papier’s record of 153 games during the Currie Cup First Division, which kicks off in August.
Lewis said his love for rugby has allowed him to remain in the professional game for such a long time.
“I didn’t even realise that I was set to play my 150th game! I was told earlier this week. It’s definitely a huge honour and I look forward to celebrating this special moment with family and friends. I’m proud that I achieve this milestone with the team based in Wellington, where I was born and bred,” Lewis told MyPlayers.
“There have been many ups and downs, but my love for the game has kept me going every season. If you don’t enjoy the game, you won’t be able to wake up every morning to get back on to the field. More players need to remember to enjoy the game and not put too much pressure on themselves.”
Lewis will play his milestone match against the SWD Eagles in Malmesbury during this weekend’s SuperSport Rugby Challenge fixtures.
Boland will be disappointed with their tournament run, only winning two of their six fixtures in Pool B. But with loose forward Zandre Jordaan also making his 100th appearance for the team, there will be personal motivation to secure the win against the visitors from George.
“We haven’t played to our full potential during the SuperSport Rugby Challenge this season. We have played some good rugby and should’ve secured more wins, but our failure to deliver 80-minute performances has let us down,” explained Lewis.
“We held an undefeated Western Province team to an 8-8 scoreline at half-time in difficult conditions last weekend. But we dropped our intensity after the 65th minute and lost our grip on the contest. But we will learn from these disappointments and prepare ourselves for a tough game against SWD.
“The SuperSport Rugby Challenge has been a great initiative,” Lewis added. “It’s always great taking professional rugby to the communities. Our people have shown great support. We’re looking forward to giving our fans in Malmesbury a victory.”
In addition to his 15-year playing career, Lewis has also been a longstanding executive member and player representative at MyPlayers - the official organisation for professional rugby players in South Africa.
Lewis has played an influential role in the growth of the players’ organisation since attending his first meeting in 2010. He believes MyPlayers provides a vital supportive role that helps professional players on and off the field.
“When I first joined MyPlayers as an executive member, everybody used to ask me what the organisation is all about. Today, I get no questions as all players gain value from the organisation’s wide range of services and benefits,” said Lewis.
“The most important part of these services are the player development initiatives and contract insurance cover. It’s very important for players to invest into themselves by planning for life after rugby, while the contract insurance protects the players’ well-being when they suffer a serious injury.”
Lewis turns 34 years old in October, but the proud son of Wellington doesn’t have any plans to give up on the game - even after retirement.
“My body still feels good, but I will probably retire within the next two seasons. I’m currently involved in coaching and it’s something I’m really enjoying at the moment. I’m hoping to get into coaching on a full-time basis once my playing days are over.”
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