Sportsperson of the month: Harvey Biljon

Born in Uitenhage, South Africa, Harvey started playing rugby at about the age of eight, as a scrum-half and after a successful junior career Harvey joined premiership side London Wasps in 2000, where he enjoyed considerable success for a number of years. After Wasps he went on to become the Director of Rugby at Blackheath, for whom he also played up until 2008. Then is 2009, until joining JRFC, Harvey was a key part of the coaching team for fellow Championship side Cornish Pirates.

If one needed mentors, then Harvey has had some of the best, having been associated at Wasps with British Lions coaches Ian McGeechan, Warren Gatland, Shaun Edwards, Craig White and Rob Howley.  Aside from all of this, he is also our sportsperson of the month, what more could we ask for…

Name: Harvey Biljon

Age: 37

Sport: Rugby

What do you do: I’m the Head Coach for Jersey Rugby Club’s first team, currently playing in the IPA Greene King Championship.

School attended: Durban High School (South Africa).

Favourite ice cream flavour: Banoffee.

Favourite animal: Dog.

Favourite food: Steak.

What would you wear to a fancy dress party: 

No Idea, it really depends on the theme, but if it’s fancy dress, always go all out.

Favourite rugby expression:

This comes from my playing days, a player had left to join an opposing team at the end of the season, he had quite a reputation for being a tough guy in the gym, puffing out his chest and lifting heavy weights, but when he got on the pitch it was a different story. During a game one of our players turned around to him and said ‘pretty standard performance, looks like you still train like Tarzan, but play like Jane.’  This only served to further throw his game!

Favourite thing about Jersey: 

Everything has been great so far, but the beaches are top of the list at the moment.

Favourite song: 

Currently it’d have to be ‘Waves’ by Mr Probz.

When did you start playing/coaching: 

Started playing rugby when I was about nine, I have always been into coaching even from when I left school I went back and coached the junior age groups.

Where has been your favourite place in the world to play/coach rugby:

Playing wise Kings Park, Durban, South Africa, with the Shed (Gloucester a very close second) and coaching well there is only one answer, Jersey.

Where and when was the favourite moment in your career: 

I have coached in many Big games, B&I Cup finals, play off finals but at the moment the stand out game is Jersey against Bedford at Goldington Road for Championship survival at the end of last season.

You’re about to embark on your first full season as Head Coach for JRFC, how are you feeling about the teams prospects:

I am excited, and very aware of the challenges but if it was going to be easy it would not be worth doing. Lets just say I believe we can really surprise a couple of teams and that the team can really develop in the years to come.

Have you set the team specific goals for this season, aside from winning as many games as possible, of course:

There is an obvious focus on the on field performance and at this early stage of the season we have set some key performance indicators, we have also made a conscious effort not to set season long goals but goals for blocks of games, after each block the squad and coaches will re-evaluate and set new challenges for the next block of games.

Our challenge is to develop and understand what it means to be a professional athlete on and off the field. JRFC need to build a culture and environment that the players can be proud of and people want to be part of.

Does the island’s support make a difference to the teams performance, particularly at home:

Very much so, it’s great to hear the supporters banging on the advertising boards at our home games, thus far, in the short time I have been in Jersey, listening to how passionate the supporters are definitely motivates all of us.

Sports players, aside from a few, are notoriously transient – how do you bring new players into an existing side and give them a sense of pride to be playing for the club:

Rugby players want to go to a Club where they know they can improve and be challenged.  One thing that stands-out for me is that JRFC really care and look after their players. We know you don’t have to sell Jersey as a place, but playing for Jersey is unique in the Championship, as every time you represent the Club you represent the island too. I believe for a professional rugby player you have it all, high-class competition, an opportunity for individual development, supporters who get behind you and a Club that looks after you.

If you weren’t coaching rugby, what would you be doing: 

Running my own business, I’m not certain what it would do, but it would have to be something challenging and rewarding.

Do you have a top tip for aspiring sportspeople: 

Be self-aware but don’t doubt your ability, always remember there is no substitute for hard work and sacrifice!

How can people get involved in rugby in Jersey: 

Just get up to the Club, the people are very welcoming and I guarantee you will have lots of fun.

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