Lentegeur’s Fortuin stars for the Czech Republic

Winner… Shannon Fortuin after helping the Czech Republic clinch victory in the recent Euro Sevens.
Home boy… Shannon Fortuin running out for False Bay a few seasons ago

The last national rugby team Gail Fortuin, from Lentegeur, and her family would’ve been expected to support, is the Czech Republic.

Then again, why wouldn’t she, when it’s her son running rings around the defence in the colours of the former Soviet satellite state, previously known as Czechoslovakia and under Communist rule from 1960 to 1990.

The second eldest of her three children, Shannon, 26, has been living in the Central European country for five years and was part of their national side that won the recent Euro Sevens title, in Zagreb, Croatia.

South African rugby fans may be surprised to know that the game is quite popular in this region with host nation Croatia, Ukraine, whom the Czech Republic beat 29-12 in the final, Sweden, Romania, Hungary and Latvia among those who faced off in this competition.

Although not televised locally, the family was able to follow the action online, thanks to livestreaming.

At club level, Shannon plays for Sparta Prague, the second oldest club in the Czech Republic. Established in 1928, Sparta competes in the KB Extraliga, the top level of club rugby in that country and are current champions.

The young man from Lentegeur, now living in Prague, the largest city in the Czech Republic, attended Hyacinth Primary School, and started out with his home team Collegians RFC, a club known for its impressive youth development programme.

He also attended Lentegeur High School but finished his schooling at Bloemfontein’s Louis Botha High School thanks to a rugby scholarship.

Upon his return to the city, in 2013 he turned out for UWC before joining WPRFU Super League A powerhouse, False Bay RFC a year later.

It was while at False Bay that the opportunity to travel to the Czech Republic presented itself, said his brother-in-law, Kirk Adams.

Adams described him as an explosive wing in the mould of a Cheslin Kolbe, who, like Shannon proved himself against much bigger opponents.

As much as he is a wing who loves to score tries, he loves a good try-saving tackle, even more, Adams said.

Adams’ wife, Taryn remembers her younger brother who started primary school as she was finishing up to go to high school, as a feisty boy who always had her back.

“Even though he’s younger than me, he was the one that looked out for me,” she said.

Her mother quietly agrees, saying :”Yes he was a very busy child, but so well-mannered,” she said.