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'Just back me': The big call Damian De Allende's dad had to make

By Ned Lester
Damian de Allende lines up for the Springbok defence. Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

The in-form Damian De Allende has reflected on his journey to Springbok stardom and pinpointed one defining moment that steered his path to where he is today.


Named at No 12 in World Rugby’s Dream Team of the Year 2022, De Allende’s consistency and class were rare constants in the injury-prone Springbok backline.

In 2022-23 The South African lines up for the Saitama Wild Knights, but it was the story of his decision to switch clubs in 2012 that De Allende decided to tell in a sit down with the Springboks’ official YouTube channel.

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“Playing the Varsity Cup in 2012 was a life-changing moment in my rugby career,” De Allende said.

“After high school, I went to rugby academy, I fell under Hamiltons under 20, which was really awesome but then UCT approached me and asked me if I wanted to play Varsity Cup.

“There was a bit of back and forth with Hamiltons because they obviously wanted me to stay at the club, and I would have earned quite a bit of money in match fees and stuff at Hamiltons which would have been nice. But, I felt at that moment in time it would benefit my career a lot more to play Varsity Cup that year.

“My dad had to pay a fee so I could get out of the contract at Hamiltons and I was obviously quite nervous, growing up we didn’t have a lot of money or anything like that and my parents really did struggle.


“(Something) that I’ll never forget was my dad said that I should maybe just stay at Hamiltons for that next season and then play Varsity Cup afterwards, and I told him ‘just back me, the opportunity will be a lot more successful than the money at the moment.'”


The midfielder’s father ultimately backed his son, funding what De Allende now describes as a “life-changing” moment in his career and his chosen story for the series “how rugby changed my life”.

De Allende’s confidence was clearly well-founded as he continued his rapid ascension through the ranks of professional rugby, stepping into the Stormers the following year and the Springboks the year after.


“I managed to get out of that deal from playing Hamiltons and I can proudly say that playing Varsity Cup that year, it was a stepping stone to playing Vodacom Cup that same year and then I obviously made my Currie Cup debut for Western Province as well that year and we won the Currie Cup in Durban.”


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RUGBYPASS+ The major Six Nations concern for Wales and England ahead of RWC 2023 The major Six Nations concern for Wales and England ahead of RWC 2023