Should RG Snyman get a long-awaited start at No 5 for Springboks against France?

Springbok lock RG Snyman could get a start against France at the Rugby World Cup. Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP

Springbok lock RG Snyman could get a start against France at the Rugby World Cup. Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP

Published Oct 12, 2023


AS kick-off of the massive World Cup quarter-final on Sunday night grows closer for the Springboks, there is a consensus that grinding out a victory over France is improbable and that a moment of magic will be required to get the South Africans over the line.

Put simply, an arm-wrestle with a very good French team in front of 82 000 of their crazed countrymen is likely to have only one winner and it won’t be the men from Afrique du Sud.

The Boks need to have as many of their X-factor players on the field as possible for the longest period of time, without playing recklessly or sacrificing their brutal strength upfront.

Bok bosses Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber know that it would be foolhardy to tamper too much with their pack and indeed the second pack that will be on the bench.

But RG Snyman must be one forward they will be sorely tempted to have on the pitch for longer than the cameos he has had thus far.

To pick the lanky Snyman to start at No 5 alongside Eben Etzebeth, with Franco Mostert dropping to the bench, is not as outlandish as it sounds – not nearly as outlandish as Snyman’s Viking haircut and it could win the Boks the game.

The Boks don’t want to get locked into a bitter fight to the death in the trenches.

Yes, they want to keep their composure and not be silly – the French have the skilled fire-power to punish mistakes – but they also need some big moments from their gamebreakers.

Think Manie Libbok’s no-look kick-pass to Kurt-Lee Arendse against Scotland for the try of the World Cup so far.

Or looking forward to Sunday, what about Snyman bursting through the middle against France, handing off defenders while devouring territory with his giant strides, before offloading sublimely to Cheslin Kolbe for a crowd-silencing score?

With respect to Mostert, he can’t do the things that Snyman can.

And if Snyman starts, the pack is not going to lose any physicality. In fact, they will gain it – Snyman is 2.06m and 117kg to Mostert’s 1.98m and 112kg.

Mostert fans, and I am one of them, will point out his incredible work-rate but try telling any Munster player that Snyman doesn’t have an engine on him.

Last week, Snyman’s Munster teammate and fellow Bok, Jean Kleyn, said it was no coincidence that the Irish province’s United Rugby Championship season turned around when Snyman came back from injury and started all of their games in the latter part of the season.

The argument for having the likes of Snyman and Malcolm Marx in the ‘Bomb Squad’ has always been that they make a massive impact in the last quarter, when the opposition pack have lost their strength to the Springbok slow poison.

But I can’t see the French pack faltering in the second half on Sunday. If anything, it will be honours even and that means an arm-wrestle.

This takes me back to my point that the Boks need something a little different on Sunday if they hope to win.

It is the Last Chance Saloon. There is zero point in holding anything back. It is win or board a plane for Johannesburg on Monday night. The reality is that stark.

With that in mind, I would pick Snyman as a trump card in the pack and Libbok as the ace in the backs...