The latest South African to throw his lot in with Scotland
Edinburgh’s South Africa-born prop Boan Venter has revealed his dream is to follow in the footsteps of clubmates WP Nel, Pierre Schoeman and Duhan van der Merwe and play international rugby for Scotland.
The 26-year-old arrived in the Scottish capital in February 2021 and has now penned a two-year contract extension that will take him to the end of the 2025/26 season.
From Kimberley in South Africa’s Northern Cape, the former Cheetahs loosehead will have to wait until February 2026 to qualify for his adopted country via the residency rule, which was extended from three to five years at the end of 2020.
Venter, who was involved in training camps with the Junior Springboks but missed out on playing at an U20s World Cup, is happy to bide his time to fulfil his ambition of playing Test rugby.
“It’s five years to be qualified, so I’m definitely looking forward to that,” he said. “I won’t lie. From being a young boy, it has been my dream to play international rugby and maybe go to a World Cup. But for now, my focus will be to improve on my own game.
We're delighted to announce a new two-year deal for Boan Venter, keeping the loosehead prop in the capital until June 2026! ?
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— Edinburgh Rugby (@EdinburghRugby) December 6, 2023
“For me, if you look too far forward, you stub your toe where you are at. The dream is there, but I’d like to improve week in, week out and then let the future sort itself out.”
Edinburgh senior coach Sean Everitt, who revealed he tried to sign Venter from Cheetahs when he was still head coach at the Sharks, believes the loosehead has the quality to follow Schoeman into the Scotland ranks if he can remain clear of serious injury over the next two years.
“I tried to get him ‘down the hill’ to Durban from Bloemfontein, but unfortunately he had already committed to Edinburgh,” Everitt said. “It’s great to be able to work with him.
“He had a cracking season in South Africa that year and he has been really good for us. He can be good for Scottish rugby going forward, as his new contract will take him into consideration for the national team.
“He has got to keep learning but he works hard, is a popular guy in the group and is a devastating scrummager. He is getting better week in, week out. He is a good ball carrier as well, has good ball skills so he can be an all-round player and certainly one who can succeed a guy like Pierre Schoeman, who has done so well for Scotland.
“I am happy for him. It is always good to have quality players like that signing long-term with the club. We are serious about doing well and we are serious about winning. Keeping guys like Boan makes that job easier for us because he is quite serious about his rugby career and where he wants to be.”
Venter, who has featured in six of Edinburgh’s seven URC games this season, will be approaching his 29th birthday by the time he becomes eligible for Scotland, but the example of two clubmates suggests that is no barrier to his international ambitions.
The 37-year-old tighthead Nel was 29 when he made his Scotland debut after three years with Edinburgh and he won his 61st cap at the recent Rugby World Cup. Schoeman, who also served a three-year residency period, made his Scotland bow aged 27 in 2021 and has won 26 caps in the past two years.
“WP still going at 37… if that’s not inspirational, I don’t know what will be,” said Venter. “He is a really close mate of mine as well. I enjoy rubbing shoulders with him every day. We are such a close-knit group of props. We push each other, we learn from each other. I feel I get ample opportunity to prove my worth here.
“I have really enjoyed living in Edinburgh and it’s my third season now. The missus has been over for a year now as well so that definitely makes it a bit easier. We used to do long distance for two years but we have settled in really nicely and are looking forward to the capital still being our home for the next two years.”
With Schoeman among several Scotland players set to be rested for Edinburgh’s opening European Challenge Cup pool match at Clermont on Friday, Venter is poised for another chance to prove his credentials at the Stade Marcel-Michelin.
Last Saturday’s impressive 27-24 victory over Ulster in Belfast lifted the capital side to fifth place in the URC, continuing the positive trajectory under Everitt since he succeeded former head coach Mike Blair for the 2023/24 season.
“I’m enjoying where we are at the moment and what Sean has brought in,” added Venter, who has scored nine tries in 52 outings for Edinburgh, including a hat-trick against Ospreys in January 2022. “He has slotted in seamlessly and I am enjoying working with him.
“With him being a Saffa as well, there is a lot of common ground. It is just knowing the sacrifice that it is for us to be here, leaving behind all our family and friends back in South Africa.
“But then again, coming here and knowing what it is to make Scotland your home now and being committed to the cause here. The boys have bought in nicely to what he brings to the table and we have hit the ground running. It’s been going well so far.”