RG Snyman cherishes Springbok jersey after ‘tough journey’

RG Snyman is ready to give his all for the Springboks at the Rugby World Cup. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

RG Snyman is ready to give his all for the Springboks at the Rugby World Cup. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

Published Sep 8, 2023


When the Springbok jersey is taken away from you, that’s when you realise how special it is.

That’s why lock RG Snyman won’t hold anything back when he gets to run out in the Rugby World Cup on Sunday, when South Africa take on Scotland (kick-off 5.45pm) in Marseille.

Snyman (28) will be playing in his second tournament after winning the trophy in 2019 in Japan but it’s what happened in between the two tournaments that changed his outlook on rugby after being without the Bok jersey for about three seasons.

The Munster lock suffered a serious knee injury with various setbacks, while a freak accident around a fire contributed to his time on the sidelines just when he was ready to make his return.

But since the lanky lock started playing again, he’s been going from strength-to-strength.

His contributions on the field helped Munster to bag the United Rugby Championship title against the Stormers and now he is ready to help the Springboks go back-to-back in the World Cup.

Against Wales in the build-up to France 2023, Snyman got his first full 80 minutes of international rugby since 2019.

And in the final warm-up against the All Blacks, he played a crucial role off the bench to stifle any hope of a comeback for the Kiwis.

“The big thing I’ve learnt is you’re always desperate to be part of the Springboks and to wear the jersey but it’s only when it’s taken away from you that you realise how special it is,” Snyman said this week in Toulon about his time on the sidelines.

“For the Springboks, the last time I played 80 (minutes) was against Canada at the previous World Cup, so it’s been a while.

“It was my first 80 minutes since 2019 when I got injured and it was a special milestone for me to get through.

“It was a tough journey to be on but through all of it, I’ve learnt a lot.

“I must give credit to Munster for looking after me and continuing to look after me, because people can give up on you quite easily in this line of work.

“But credit to them for getting me back, and back in the Springbok squad. It’s special to be back, especially if one considers that I missed all the matches prior to the build-up to this World Cup.”

Ever since his return to the national fold, Snyman has been outstanding when called upon by head coach Jacques Nienaber.

His ability to secure clean line-out possession for the side, read and steal opposition throw-ins – as well as get his arms through tackles when attacking with the ball is what makes him so valuable.

And it doesn’t matter if Nienaber decides to start him or if he plays as part of the Bomb Squad ... Snyman will deliver.

On Sunday, the Boks expect Scotland to bring physicality and flair to the game and that makes them dangerous opponents.

“Scotland will bring some big ball-carries and it will be interesting to defend some of their line-outs because they are a quality line-out side,” Snyman said.

“As a squad, I don’t think we’ve been as determined and as close going into a tournament (as this one), so there are exciting things ahead if we can stick together.”


The 6-2 split is a gamble and when Nienaber was asked this week in Toulon which forward would step into the backline should the backs pick up more than two injuries, his answer was cagey.

“We have players who have the ability to play there (in the backline) if they have to but if I went into that, I would be delving into tactical stuff – and I don’t want to give anything away,” Nienaber said.

“If that (injuries in the backs) should happen, we will adapt.”

Nienaber acknowledged that Scotland have to be given the utmost respect.

“They are a quality rugby side. They deserve to be ranked fifth in the world. Their performances over the last 18 months have been consistent against the big teams. It will be a proper Test match. We’re playing quarter-final knockout rugby from day one.”

Scotland have a strong South African influence, with forwards coach Pieter de Villiers having fulfilled the same role with the country of his birth.

At the same time, there are two ‘Saffers’ in the front row in Pierre Schomean and WP Nel, and on the wing, the lethal Duhan van der Merwe has scored a stunning 18 tries in his 30 Test matches.

“I’ve worked closely with Pieter, and I’ve coached Duhan and Pierre Schoeman at South African schools level. They know us and we know them, and we’ll have to have a close eye on them,” Nienaber added.