Next Chapter: the luke watson interview

By Sarah Boomgaard

In this honest interview; Bath captain, Luke Watson discusses everything from fatherhood to his decision to move to the Southern Kings. Luke opens up to squash the rumours and talk about his hopes for 2011. It’s all there; Bath, the Kings, WP and even the Blue Bulls get a mention!

 Sarah: It seems since your arrival, all the articles have been about how happy you are at Bath. What made you decide to return to South Africa?

Luke: I’ve loved Bath and I still do. It’s an indescribably beautiful city. It’s very different to the sort of natural, scenic beauty of South Africa but still amazing in its own way. Everywhere you go there are chapels, churches and buildings dating back hundreds of years. Walking the streets of Bath makes you feel like you’re on the set of some medieval movie. It is definitely a must see for everyone who comes to the UK.

As for the rugby side of things, the Bath Rugby Club has exceeded all of my expectations. I couldn’t express how great the guys in the team are. Some of the nicest guys I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. My team mates, in a very short period of time have become some of my best mates and I have no doubt that they will continue to be very close friends for years to come! The city, the fans, the team mates are all amazing!! So having said all of this… It was a very difficult decision to say goodbye to Bath. I always knew that I would one day return to South Africa but I never knew it would be so soon. I am South African through and through. It’s in my blood. I love SA so passionately and I am beyond proud to be South African. I am incredibly grateful for this time that I’ve had in Bath. I think it was good for me to get some distance from certain things in my life and be able to establish a new, fresh and personal perspective on life. So I have changed a lot. Well I like to think so.

The reason I’m returning home is because I miss my country, I love my country and I want to be a part of the bright, exciting future that South Africa is discovering more and more each day. I want to be a positive influence and constructively contribute to South Africa in any manner or form. I want to make a difference! I want to see South Africa not only reach its potential as a nation but also celebrate its uniqueness along the way. I believe in SA. It is home.

Sarah: Just before the big announcement you tweeted that you had some exciting news to tell everybody. Everybody immediately thought you were returning to Western Province. What made you choose the Southern Kings over WP?

 Luke: I probably tweet too much! Why the Kings?! Why not WP?! I love WP. It was such an honour to have played there for so many years. It was my passion. At times I was definitely a bit too passionate but I loved it. Some of my greatest memories are running out onto a packed Newlands. The atmosphere is ridiculous!! Spine tingling, emotional… just amazing!

Strangely enough some of my favourite games were playing the Bulls at Loftus. Unbelievable rivalry and atmosphere. A victory there didn’t come often but when it did it was better than most feelings in the world! So thank you WP for that… I love WP and I love the fans! The WP fans are crazy… The craziest (in a good way of course)! I am so grateful for those years and will always cheer for WP (except when the Kings play them. That’ll be weird!!).

Why the Kings? Just to clear up all the rumours first: Did I go to the Kings because of my dad… No. Did I go to the Kings because no other team would take me… No! I’m sure the Bulls would’ve taken me 😉 . To all the Bulls supporters I am just joking. I’ve the utmost respect for what the Bulls have achieved and how they have dominated world rugby even though they are WP’s biggest derby/opponent/enemy. WP vs. Bulls was always my favourite fixture!

Back to the Kings now… I’m a PE boy, born and bred. I love PE and I only have the fondest memories of it. I played my first professional season for the ‘mighty elephants'(we weren’t that mighty back then). The decision to play for the Kings was a tough one because I knew everyone would say I was running back to my dad, I knew everyone would go on about the ‘Puke Watson’ thing, I knew that I was truly hated by some sectors of SA and I knew everyone would say that I was just trying to wangle my way back into the Boks…. I knew all of this. I still know it now. But I couldn’t let all of this stand in the way of my dreams! I always wanted PE to have top flight rugby and to be a competitive franchise. I always wanted to see EP at the top or at least fighting its way to get there!

To be honest, if PE was a ‘big’ union then I probably would never have left in the first place. So to me, this opportunity to be a part of building or at least trying to build a great team and union is an opportunity that I couldn’t say no to. Yes the odds are against us, yes there are many challenges and obstacles and yes there will be some very tough times BUT the opportunity to be a part of history and something great far outweighs those negatives. The Kings can change PE, can change the Eastern Cape and hopefully even impact SA rugby for the good. It’s new, fresh, untarnished and full of potential.

Sarah: What will you miss most about Bath?

Luke: Friends. My team mates and the friends I’ve made here. Friends for life. Definitely not the weather 😉

Sarah: How did your team mates and fans react when they heard you were leaving?

Luke: I was very honest and upfront from the beginning. I told Bath that it wasn’t a money issue, it was me chasing a dream! No amount of money in the world was going to change my mind. They were very understanding and supportive. Quite a few of them said it sounded like the best decision and told me to go for it! It’s not often in your life that you have to make such a difficult decision but I went with my heart. They were disappointed but very happy for me.

Sarah: What are you most looking forward to in 2011?

Luke: 1.FATHERHOOD!! 2. Coming home 3. Second chances 4. Challenges 5. Enjoying it all.

Sarah: What are you most and least looking forward to about fatherhood?

Luke: I’m looking forward to everything about it! Can’t wait!! Bringing a new life into the world… Wow! Teaching her love, peace, joy, kindness, compassion, dream BIG HUGE MASSIVE, chase your dreams and to have fun while doing this thing called life! I want her to believe that she can do anything and everything that she wants! I want her to love God so deeply that nothing else matters and I want her to just be… herself!

Sarah: What do you think will be your biggest challenge at the Kings?

Luke: Everything! Ah there are going to be so many challenges as a team that we will face. Where do I begin?! Both on and off the field it’s going to be a fight! A fight in a good way but a fight nonetheless! We need people to become fans and the fans to believe in us! This is not just about the Kings… It’s about a whole community, a whole city! It’s about making history and changing the future!! We all have to get behind this and just BELIEVE!!

Sarah: You have played for four provincial teams (Eastern Province, Sharks, Western Province and Bath), will the Kings’ jersey be the last one you wear?

 Luke: Who knows?! I’ve loved every team I’ve played for and appreciated every experience. I hope this is the last jersey I wear but it’s all about God’s plans not mine 😉

Sarah: Do you see yourself playing for the Springboks again?

Luke: The BIG question. Ah I feel like I could go on about this topic forever but I am not going to. I love my country. I am incredibly passionate about my country. I would love to represent my country. It would be an honour and a privilege. Will this ever happen… once again who knows?! Every time I wore the Bok jersey in the past there was major controversy surrounding it due to numerous reasons but I am not going to blame others or make any excuses. If I could I would do things very differently.

If I could change the past I would but… I can’t! I can’t live the rest of my life bound by certain aspects of my past. I need to move on. Some people will choose to hate/detest/despise me for the rest of their lives, that I can’t change. I can only change who I am and I try to do that on a regular basis!

Sarah: Where do you see yourself in 10-15 years time?

Luke: I don’t have a clue and I am quite glad about that! I see myself even more in love with my beautiful wife and hopefully lots of kids running around causing chaos. I see me and my family loving Jesus with everything single thing that we have and in some way bringing some love, joy, peace and justice into this world! That sounds like one of those Miss Universe ‘world peace’ speeches but it’s totally true!

Sarah: You were already in Bath when John Smit’s autobiography was released. How did you react when you found out hat a few of the fan page members (Team Watson) went to a few of Smit’s signing sessions to ask him a few questions and more to the point, got him to sign a Team Watson T-shirt?

Luke: Hahaha…. I heard about that! I laughed and thought wow those fans are pretty gutsy and brave! It was cool and kinda funny but I say let bygones be bygones and move forward. Ps Thank you 😉

Sarah: And lastly, do you have anything to say to the fans, cynical and fence-sitters?

 Luke: Fans, fence-sitters, cynics… thank you all! Thanks to those who have supported me through some really difficult times (I might even have let some of you down and for that I apologise). You are awesome! To the cynics/haters… I get it. I promise. I totally understand. I’m sorry if I offended or hurt anyone, that was never my intention. People make mistakes. I’ve definitely made some. So I understand. To the fence-sitter… Thanks for not hating me!! 😉

20 thoughts on “Next Chapter: the luke watson interview

  1. Reggie says:

    Great interview Sarah, great person to do the interview with. Much respect. When I read this I see vision, but also the ability to overcome the odds, ie character. This is really what we need in South African rugby today. Its going to be an exciting year !

    • Bettie Roelofse says:

      Wow! Ek het geniet om die onderhoud te lees. Ek het so baie respek vir Luke Watson en sy getuienis staan uit vir my. Mag mense net aanbeweeg!!! Sien uit dat jy moet terugkom en naas WP is dit nou die Kings!!!

  2. What an amazing, emotional, interesting, inspiring and thouroughly enjoyable interview Sarah.. THIS is the reason why I support Luke! THIS is the reason why I defend him against his critics! THIS is the reason why i have taken people on and won arguments when people bad mouth the man that is Luke Watson. THIS is why I am happy and proud to call Luke my friend….

    Team Watson for life! Lukie Jou Lekker Ding!! 😀

  3. Fartybart says:

    It STINKS.

    You STINK.

    • sarahstormer says:

      Hey Farty, I think your nose is too close to your own butt.

      • Reggie says:

        Its easy to say these things behind an alias. Perhaps we should stop engaging faceless trolls ( and I am using it in a pejorative sense). I block them from my blog. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I am against debate and different opinions, but we need constructive dialogue towards building up the game we love so much. And this is the kind of stuff I admire about Luke Watson.

  4. Andre says:

    Hey Sarah,

    Let the haters hate.. its no use dropping to their level.. learn from Luke.. what would he do? He wouldnt get into a argument or name calling over anything. He is not like that. Luke just proves his worth as a person, his character and his talent on the rugby field and the way that he lives his life.

    You will always get haters.. they are unhappy people who have issues themselves.

    If they cant see past their nose then its their issue.. let it be…

    We as Team Watson members know the true person that is Luke Watson and we understand him better than others..

    I have had my opinion changed about people simply by being open to change and listening to other peoples point of view.

    Luke went through a terrible time in South African rugby, he was hated, he was loved.. yet what did he do? He capotained the Western province with humility, pride and passion. He made people change their view of him because he did not say anything against the haters.. In fact he embraced them as part of his life journey.

    When Luke announced that he was leaving, not only WP fans were sad I can tell you that..

    He is on his way back, to stand on his own 2 feet with ni shadow to stand under.. He will again prove to people who he is and how talented he is..

    I really hope to see him in the green and gold.. we just need the administrators to change their view and open themselves to see the man, the talent and the person…

    I am HAPPY and PROUD to be a member of TEAM WATSON.

    I am HAPPY and PROUD and HONOURED to call Luke a friend.. He has shown me nothing but respect and has helped me through some tough times too…

    I have learnt so much from him.


  5. Beverley Swimmer says:

    Hi Sarah
    Awesome interview – both amazing, emotional and inspiring.
    To Luke welcome home and I look forward to following your new Team – all these wonderful changes can only make you a greater man than you already are.

  6. Sue N says:

    I fully agree with Sarah! Luke doesn’t sit down and shut up for anybody and neither does Sarah. Luke stands and fights for what he believes in and Sarah is just the same. She has always been like that.

    Well done Sarah! I am so proud of you. I told you, you have ink in your veins! You were born to write!

    P.S Congrats on your head prefect-ship

    • sarahstormer says:

      Thank you Ma’am! But if you can remember “standing and fighting” landed me in Mr Tafford’s office more than once… and it is never my fights either 😉

      I’m only the deputy head Ma’am 🙂

  7. Andre says:

    There is more than 1 way to fight a fight.. Luke does not stand and shout or argue with people.. he shows people on the field.. he does the silent argument thing.. there is a time and a place for everything… I agree that Sarah is a strong individual and fights for what she believes in.. I know her far too well 🙂

    All im saying is that one should not drop to another level… in afrikaans we say “Stil bly is ook ‘n antwoord)

    That simple sentence has won me many a argument as the person realises that they do not get to me.. the best way to deal with haters is to ignore and show them that they are not getting to yourself.. arguments only add fuel to the fire…

    I follow Luks’s example and show people in my actions who I am rather than lowering my value system to argue with them…

    There is a time and a place for everything.. including standing up and fighting.. i just think that this is not one of those times.. its my opinion, not everybody has to agree with me or accept my opinion but it remains my opinion…


  8. Jaccie Ellmann says:

    I love this young man!!! Not afraid to speak his mind, and not making any excuses for anything he said or did!!!
    Luke, I’m gonna not like seeing you play for the Kings, but seeing that you’ll still be a WP supporter, it’s okay with me.
    Welcome back, and show us what you can do.

  9. Dee says:

    Great article Sarah, it’s received over 850 views in less than 24 hours.

    It should be published in the national papers and SA Rugby Magazine should publish it in their next issue.

  10. Rieta says:

    Luke I said it so many times before and I am going to say it again. I/We; W P will never be the same without you. BUT I admire your guts, your believe in God, your passion, your honesty, your integrity – you will be a rolmodel for many years to come. I SALUUT YOU!! God Blees you, Elaine; baby Watson to come and I wish all your dreams will come true every step of your way.

  11. Brendan Doolan says:

    Well done Sarah! A thoroughly professional effort. I am very proud of you. One small question – does this mean that you will be transferring your allegiance from the Stormers to the Kings?????
    All the best with your efforts – your Headmaster!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Slider says:

    Great interview, Sarah. I’m looking forward to more of your work soon. Respect to Luke, he’s acknowledged his mistakes, made his apologies, and carried on doing what he does best. He’s had a really good spell at Bath, the players and supporters have taken him to their hearts and I can tell you English people treat South Africans with suspicion, usually for good reason.

    Your interview has been copied to a rugby blog on sport24. Comments there include the usual haters still hating, but also quite a few positive comments. It’s a bit of a snakepit over there.

    • sarahstormer says:

      Thank you Slider. I don’t know how much time school and prefectship will leave for writing, but I’ll try to send something interesting out like every other week,

      Yes I do know that. When it comes to somebody as controversial as Luke, there will always be the haters. Who most of the time don’t even bother to read what he said but hey, I cannot be blamed for their ignorance.

      Thank you for the turn around.

  13. Christo says:

    Amazing man and an even better player. Concrats on the article Sarah. I am WP threw and threw but the new Kings shirt will now become part of my collection.

  14. […] full article is available here – and I must say it’s good to see a fellow rugby site run by a woman. The rugby media […]

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