RARE DOUBLE: SA schools rugby and cricket representative Riley Norton is the ultimate all-rounder

RARE DOUBLE: SA schools rugby and cricket representative Riley Norton is the ultimate all-rounder

Herschelle Gibbs, Conrad Jantjes, Ruan de Swardt and now Riley Norton. These athletes are part of a rare group of talented sports people who have represented South Africa at schools level in both rugby and cricket.

Gibbs went on to play for the Proteas and Jantjes for the Springboks, while all-rounder De Swardt is in line to make his Proteas debut in New Zealand in the next two weeks.

In total, 15 schools athletes have accomplished the remarkable feat – 11 of them before the year 2000, with the achievement becoming increasingly difficult with the professionalism of sports programmes in schools in recent times.

Astonishingly, Norton – currently representing South Africa at the under-19 Cricket World Cup – did the double in 2023, as a 17-year-old, so barring injury or loss of form, he is likely to do it again in 2024.

Not only do Norton’s athletic exploits extend to both the oval and rectangular fields, he also covers both disciplines – as an aggressive fast-bowler as well as a hard-hitting lower order hitter – on the cricket field.

With so much on the 2024 Paul Roos Gimnasium head boy’s plate, an accommodating support system has helped him juggle the leather and oval balls.

Riley Norton

Riley Norton of the Proteas during their U19 World Cup match against Scotland at the JB Marks Oval in Potchefstroom on 27 January 2024. (Photo: Lee Warren / Gallo Images)

“I just think it’s about the support structures I have at school,” Norton told Daily Maverick. “They’ve been amazing with coaches communicating with one another.

“With playing both rugby and cricket there’s always a big pre-season… I rarely have a pre-season.

“There’s a big [rugby] pre-season now, especially at a school like Paul Roos which takes both of them quite seriously, especially the rugby, which starts during the cricket season.

“So, I think it’s just understanding which one is important and which ones I have to attend.

“But also making sure that the coaches understand what’s going on in that communication is always open and that the coaches between cricket and rugby can communicate with one another just to ensure everyone’s on the same page and everyone understands

…. to be continued
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