SPRINGBOK Celeste Adonis and her daughter, Paige.

CAPE TOWN – Celeste Adonis started playing street rugby in Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands and went to the field with her rugby-playing uncles.

It was after turning out for her school’s girls rugby team that she fell in love with the game. She got involved in junior girls rugby. Soon, her talent was noticed and she was selected for the South African team that played in the U20 Women’s Rugby World Cup in the US.

After that, it was provincial rugby for Boland and Western Province and then came the national call-up to the Springbok squad. Adonis was selected to be a senior Springbok and play in the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup in France. Afterwards SA Rugby went into self-imposed international moratorium mode with women’s rugby international matches being set aside while the national body focused on growing the game and developing skills.

But Adonis stayed in the game, motivating herself to enjoy club and provincial rugby.

Two years ago, she found herself pregnant. Baby Paige was born last year and Adonis was soon back on the rugby field, playing provincial rugby for Boland. She was called up to the Springbok team again and played in the Africa Cup that qualified for the women’s rugby team for the 2021 World Cup. Adonis also played for SA against the touring teams from Spain and Scotland that played the women Springboks in SA last October.

As a mother, Adonis is now enjoying her rugby much more; motivated to play for her baby. She loves when Paige smiles when she comes off the field and holds her. Adonis is intent on making future Springbok teams and playing in the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. 

Springbok ladies player Celeste Adonis is tackled by Rachel McLachlan of Scotland in a rugby game played at the Athlone City Park. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Cheryl Roberts sat down for a chat with Adonis:

How did you start playing rugby?

I started playing as a little girl with boys street touch rugby I didn’t have a lot of lady friends to play with I remember I was still a little girl, then I used to go to the rugby field with my uncles where they practise rugby and me running against the touch line.

My sport was netball until I joined a women’s rugby team at my high school to play for the school derby one year And then I stayed with rugby because I liked it.

When did you first represent South Africa?

I started representing SA when I first played U20 junior Springboks at the U20 World Cup in the US in 2011.

How did you feel when you became a Springbok? When was that?

It was the best feeling because it was my dream to become a senior Springbok player and play in the World Cup. This I did in 2014 in France.

What kept you going in the game and motivated you to play when SA wasn’t playing international matches?

My coaches, my family and my personal ambitions. I always set myself a goal and one of those goals was to play in a world cup again.

Did you consider retiring from rugby after knowing you were going to have a baby and be a mother?

Yes I did consider retiring and then I realised I’m not ready to retire yet, so I was back to rugby soon after the birth of my child.

The Womenboks in action against Scotland in a rugby game played at the Athlone City Park in 2019. Photo; Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

How soon did you get back to training after giving birth?

I was pregnant, then I stopped training at eight months.

I did lots of cardio workouts and treadmill running. I started training again after giving birth two months later.

How does it feel to be a mother of a baby and playing international rugby?

I’m a proud mother of my daughter. A lot of people didn’t think I’d back on the rugby field.

But I got back and played again for South Africa. And I’m feeling good. Playing now for my baby girl.

Tell us about your training programme? Has it changed/altered since having a baby?

In the beginning it was a bit difficult, but with the help of my beloved mother, whom I rely on a lot for support and help and Paige’s father, everything went well. It’s tough working full time, being a mother and being an elite athlete. I train in my lunchtime and after work as I must put in the hours to be a quality sportswoman.

What would you still like to achieve from playing rugby?

To represent SA in the World Cup 2021 that’s my dream and my goal.

Cheryl Roberts is a sports activist.