Breyton Jonathan Paulse was born on the 25 February, 1976, in the Koue Bokkeveld in the Western Cape province in South Africa. His parents were workers on a farm there, and the owner of the farm introduced Breyton to the sport of rugby at a young age. He immediately showed talent with his catlike agility and blistering pace. He played at fly-half for the team of the University of Stellenbosch, the leading South African club side.
In 1996, he made his debut at full-back for the Western Province team in the Currie Cup, South Africa's provincial rugby tournament, but later moved to right-wing. He quickly attracted the attention of the national selectors, and was selected for the national team's tour to Argentina, France and Wales at the end of that year. He didn't get a game for the test team, but was one of the stars of the midweek team, which played against local sides.
Stormer to Springbok
In 1999, Paulse helped the Stormers to the semi-finals of the Super 12, an annual tournament featuring South African, Australian and New Zealand regional teams. After the Super 12 he made his full test debut in the first of two tests against Italy. In the second test, he scored three tries in the Springboks' record 101-0 demolition of the mediocre Italian side. Unfortunately, he didn't enjoy as much success in the Tri-Nations tournament against immeasurably stronger Australia and New Zealand. His small build (1.78m, 77kg) caused serious problems for him in defence, and when the World Cup came that year, he was kept on the sideline in favour of the better defender Deon Kayser.
Kayser broke his jaw in the semi-final against Australia, which the South Africans lost in extra time because of a drop goal from Wallaby fly-half Stephen Larkham. Paulse replaced him for the third-place play-off against the New Zealand All Blacks. He showed that he should have started all the games when he received the ball on the half-way line, chipped it over the defenders and recollected it to score a spectacular match-winning try.
In 2000, Breyton was a regular in the Springbok starting line-up and scored many spectacular tries for Western Province, the Stormers and his country. His performances got him the SA Player of the year award, and he continued his good form through the next year as well.
During preparations for the 2002 Super 12, Paulse suffered a knee injury which kept him on the sideline for all but the last three games of the competition. He was selected at left-wing for the Springboks' two tests against Wales, but saw little of the ball and struggled to get back to top form. He was replaced by the 100kg Dean Hall for the match against Argentina and the first Tri-Nations match against New Zealand. Hall was injured against the All Blacks, and Paulse came back for the game against Australia, but couldn't save the Boks from a nail-biting defeat at the hands of the Wallabies. They also lost the home game against New Zealand, but Paulse scored twice in the Springboks' 33-31 victory over Australia at the legendary Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg.
The Road Ahead
If Breyton sustains or improves on his current form, the little speedster could well be instrumental in the Springboks' World Cup campaign in Australia next year.