Play hard, but don’t for­get to have a laugh

Sunday Times - - Sport Rugby - By KHANYISO NTSHWAKU

● 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.”

Pic­ture: Gallo/Getty

Ru­dolph Sny­man.

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