Edwill van der Merwe took his time to appreciate ‘very special’ Springboks moment

Springboks wing Edwill van der Merwe celebrates after scoring a try on debut against Wales. Picture: Ben Stansall / AFP

Springboks wing Edwill van der Merwe celebrates after scoring a try on debut against Wales. Picture: Ben Stansall / AFP

Published Jun 23, 2024


Raw emotion poured out of Edwill van der Merwe when he scored that brilliant try in the Springboks’ win against Wales.

At 28 years old he must have thought his boyhood dream of playing for the Springboks had come and gone. Especially because he basically made his professional debut later than most after playing Varsity Cup for Maties until from 2016 to 2019. He was 24 in his final year.

But an injury to Japan-based Springboks superstar Cheslin Kolbe gave Van der Merwe the opportunity to make his debut for the Boks. And he grabbed that opportunity with both hands, with the Lions flyer producing a Man-of-the-Match display at Twickenham.

“It was very humbling to make my first start for the Springboks and to get Man of the Match,” said Van der Merwe.

“The way we prepared the last two weeks has given me a lot of confidence in the system, and I could just be myself. There was no real nervousness and I could just go out there and be ‘Edwill’.

“The guys around me – Jesse [Kriel], Mapimps [Makazole Mapimpi] – gave me a lot of confidence. They were always chatting to me and it made my job a lot easier.

“It was a memorable first start for South Africa, and hopefully not the last.”

Van der Merwe produced a few moments of brilliance against the Welsh, and it wasn’t just with his speed and incredible stepping ability.

Van der Merwe made an unbelievable double tackle when the Welsh broke through the middle and got into the Springboks’ 22. After making a top covering tackle, he then got up and made another to deny Wales a certain try.

However, it was his try late in the second half that had the public on their feet, as he stepped a few Welsh defenders close to a ruck before scorching the earth with his speed to score underneath the posts.

“I called Grant (Williams) for a ball off his shoulder, and I couldn’t believe it when I went through and crossed the tryline,” said Van der Merwe.

“I was overcome with emotion and took a moment to take it all in because it was very special.”

Van der Merwe probably played himself into the squad for the Test series against Ireland and the one-off match against Portugal.

The Bulls’ United Rugby Championship star Kurt-Lee Arendse back in the mix after a facial injury, but his teammate Canan Moodie is still out injured. Kolbe, though, should also be back in the mix.

Coach Rassie Erasmus was also pleased with Van der Merwe’s performance. So, he should be in the mix going forward.

“Edwill definitely looked very comfortable. He’s 28. He maybe slotted in a little bit easier than some of the other guys. I think he deserves everything that comes his way now,” said Erasmus.