Sharks part ways with lock JJ van der Mescht, who is off to France
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DURBAN - EMERGING South African rugby talent JJ van der Mescht is joining French Top 14 club Stade Francais with immediate effect after parting ways with the Sharks under unfortunate circumstances.
Just a few days ago, the 22-year-old played for the Sharks against the British & Irish Lions but now he has been granted an early release by “mutual agreement and with immediate effect” according to a statement released by the Sharks today (Friday).
Intriguingly, Sharks CEO Ed Coetzee adds the following in the statement: “We are obviously very disappointed to lose a young player with JJ’s ability. He has immense potential, and we hope that this move to France gives him renewed motivation to work on his fitness and discipline. Our best wishes are extended to him for this next chapter in his career.”
It is known that Stade Francais have been hunting for Van der Mescht’s signature for some time and it is further understood that there is a long-term plan to qualify him to play for the French national team as he is uncapped at senior level by South Africa.
France currently has a South African in their team in Paul Willemse, who like Van der Mescht is a former SA Under-20 lock. Willemse qualified for the Tricolours by completing World Rugby's three-year residency requirement.
It is a sad ending to a promising career at the Sharks for the talented youngster.
Van der Mescht came to the Sharks straight from school at Glenwood High in Durban in 2018 after playing SA Schools and was a key member of the Sharks Under-19 team that won the national championship that same year under coach Sean Everitt.
Other members of that team that have progressed to the senior Sharks team with Everitt include Phepsi Buthelezi, Sanele Nohamba, Jaden Hendrikse, Dylan Richardson, Fez Mbatha, Evan Roos (now wth Western Province), Murray Koster, Thaakir Abrahams and Mpilo Gumede.