Play hard, but don’t forget to have a laugh
● Rudolph Gerhardus Snyman (commonly known as RG) doesn’t look or play like a joker, even though the lanky lock forward thinks highly of his own sense of humour.
But being a lock doesn’t allow him to be cordial. The position, which involves jumping, scrumming, tackling and running over shorter people, is not the place for smiling assassins. Not that the recently capped Springbok lock worries about that.
“I’m very easy-going and I like making jokes. I like having fun and maybe sometimes it is annoying to people but I guess that is part of me,” Snyman chuckled.
“I try to get in as many jokes as a I can on the field but after 70 minutes, there’s not enough energy to be joking.”
It is perhaps fitting that Snyman, one of three debutants in the first test against England on June 9, was born on January 29 1995, the year the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup for the first time.
It is a tournament Snyman’s father, who happens to be his inspiration and biggest fan, reminds him about quite often.
The importance of being born in the World Cup year isn’t lost on Snyman and the impact it has had on his rugby development.
Snyman, who last year chased down Springbok winger Makazole Mapimpi in a Super Rugby game, chose rugby over athletics because of a lack of contact in the track and field discipline.
“When you grow up in South Africa, the game is instilled in you as a young boy and it's got such a rich tradition. Also, being born in 1995 makes it all the more special for me because I feel that I’m part of a winning culture in South African rugby,” Snyman said.
The skilful and pacy Potchefstroom-born lock, who has represented the Bulls at all age groups, is the Afrikaans Seuns Hoerskool’s (Affies) 10th Springbok but is the first lock from the school.
Their most recent Boks, including the legendary Fourie du Preez, have been props (Dean Greyling), a scrumhalf (Ivan van Zyl, who was Snyman’s captain in their unbeaten 2013 first team), centre (Wynand Olivier) and loose-forward (Pierre Spies).
This is quite a poor return for a school whose alumni invariably move across from the school to Loftus Versfeld.
Snyman, who captained the Bulls in their Super Rugby match against the Lions at Ellis Park yesterday, understands the lock legacy that towers around the Sunnyside ground, especially when the union was home to Victor Matfield and John Phillip “Bakkies” Botha.
The duo was not just at the heart of the Bulls’ Currie Cup and Super Rugby successes in the mid-2000s but underpinned the Springboks’ ascent to the top of world rugby
There’s also the significant matter of the healthy internal rivalry within South Africa’s current lock stocks where the absence of Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager were not keenly felt.
“The biggest thing about playing lock in South Africa is living up to the reputation of the position because of the legends who have worn the jerseys.
“I think the biggest part is to honour the legacy and give your all. I think being in the Boks was a bigger honour for my parents than it was for me. I think my mom cried when I ran out onto the field at Ellis Park,” Snyman said.
“There’s tough competition in this country at lock and I think we have the best locks in the world, but also playing against the locks we have in the country has made me a better player. You have to be at your best at all times and you can’t drop the ball.”