Overseas Springbok XV
2 December 2019
02 December 2019, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld
The Overseas Springbok XV
With the Southern Hemisphere season having wrapped up with the World Cup, South African rugby lovers have to look north for their fix of oval-ball action over the next two months.
South African players are scattered across the world, now more than ever with many of this year’s World Cup-winning Springboks having joined big-spending overseas clubs. Most exports ply their trade in Europe or Japan in competitions such as the Premiership, Champions Cup, PRO14, Top 14 and Top League. Some are soldiers for hire, while others have made more permanent moves.
Quintin van Jaarsveld selects an overseas-based South African XV and highlights where some of the other stars are stationed.
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Fresh off joining Hall of Famer Os du Randt as the only two-time World Cup-winning Springboks, Steyn is back in France where he’s finishing his time at Montpellier before returning to Bloemfontein next year. One of the most versatile players in the business, Steyn has slotted back at fullback after mostly playing in midfield as part of the “Bomb Squad” in Japan. Willie le Roux plays for Jake White’s Japanese club Toyota Verblitz while Damian Willemse is on-loan to South African-laden Saracens.
The biggest little man in the game today, Kolbe starred for club and country this year. The hot-stepping diminutive dynamo set the Rugby Championship and World Cup alight to help the Springboks secure both silverware and earned a nomination for the World Rugby Player of the Year award in the process. Terrific for triumphant Toulouse as well, he scooped the Player of the Year, Best Player at the World Cup and Best Try of the Season gongs at the recent Top 14 Awards. Expect the Kolbe thrill-fest to continue.
Unfortunately, Kriel didn’t get a proper crack at the 2019 World Cup after sustaining a tournament-ending injury in the opening contest against the All Blacks. He’s one of a host of core players who’ve left the Bulls behind, staying on in Japan at his new rugby home Canon Eagles, where he’s being coached by ex-Springbok boss Allister Coetzee. The bulky Rohan Janse van Rensburg, who looked destined for higher honours during his time at the Lions, has been continuing his hard-running at the Sale Sharks.
After a spectacular World Cup, De Allende has stayed behind in the Land of the Rising Sun as well. In the prime of his career, he’ll continue his tour de force for the Panasonic Wild Knights until May, where after the former Stormers stalwart’s expected to join Munster. Jan Serfontein, who was ruled out of World Cup selection through injury, is making his presence felt at Montpellier, while Durban-born England international Brad Barritt is still going strong as Saracens captain.
Although he plays most of his rugby at scrumhalf, the multi-skilled Hougaard has done the job for Worcester at wing, too, just as he’s done for the Springboks in the past. While he’s no longer in the Bok picture, he still thrills with his playmaking prowess and pace. Dillyn Leyds has joined Wasps, reuniting with former Stormers teammates Nizaam Carr and Juan de Jongh, while DTH van der Merwe is doing his thing for Glasgow after representing Canada at a fourth World Cup.
South Africa’s leading flyhalf is furthering his career in France after playing a pivotal role in the Springboks’ triumph in Japan (finishing the World Cup as the top point-scorer with 69). His move to Montpellier is a massive blow for the Bulls, who he guided back to the Super Rugby play-offs for the first time since 2013, but stands to benefit Bok rugby as he’s primed to mature into an even more polished pivot in the Northern Hemisphere conditions. Robert du Preez is at Sale, where he covers flyhalf and inside centre.
The man, the myth, the legend is back in the swing of things at Sale after marshalling the Springboks and breaking the internet with his South African speedo in which he celebrated the World Cup triumph. At Sale, the shackles are off and De Klerk can play his natural attacking game as opposed to following the Boks’ kick-heavy game plan. Cobus Reinach has returned to Northampton where he’s displaying the skills that saw him score the fastest hat-trick in World Cup history.
After being the cornerstone of the Bulls’ comeback campaign in his sole season with the Pretoria franchise, Vermeulen played an even more prominent role in the Springboks’ success, captaining them to a maiden Rugby Championship title and delivering a Man of the Match performance against England in the World Cup final. The warhorse is now taking up his weapons for the Kubota Spears. CJ Stander is making waves at Munster again after starring for Ireland at the World Cup, while Dan du Preez is in his first full season at Sale.
Louw is back at Bath, where he’s earned legendary status, after ending his Springbok career on the ultimate high in Japan. Meanwhile, Marcell Coetzee has recovered from the injury that ruled him out of the global showpiece and is back to his brilliant best for Ulster. Another man who narrowly missed out on a place in the Bok World Cup squad, Rynhardt Elstadt, is in terrific form for Toulouse, while Jean-Luc du Preez is tearing it up with his brothers at Sale, where he doubles as a lock.
The former Blitzbok produced a solid showing against the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship and featured in the World Cup pool games against Namibia and Canada. In terms of an out-and-out fetcher, Smith is without peer when it comes to South Africans playing abroad. The Lions legend has bid Johannesburg goodbye and is now based in Iwata, where he’s running out for Yamaha Jubilo.
All four of the Springbok locks who ruled the skies at the World Cup have migrated abroad. De Jager, who started the tournament as back-up for Mostert, forced his way into the starting XV with consistently stellar all-around efforts and has joined Sale from the Bulls. Mostert, meanwhile, is back at Gloucester, who he joined in 2018 and often shares second-row duties with Gerbrandt Grobler, while Lions lock Marvin Orie is on-loan to Ospreys, where he’s doubling as a flank.
After eight seasons with the Stormers, Etzebeth has taken his feared physicality to Toulon, where he may well become a Sébastien Chabal-esque enforcer figure. The fourth pillar of the World Cup-winning Springbok squad, RG Snyman, has taken his talents to Japanese club Honda Heat, where he’s going to be hard to contain with his size and impressive offloading skills.
Koch is back scrumming down for Saracens after serving as one of the weapons of mass destruction in the Bok “Bomb Squad” at the World Cup. The Viking-like tighthead has been at the English club since 2016 and will remain at Allianz Park until 2022. Thomas du Toit’s stint at Toulouse was put on pause when he was called up to replace the injured Trevor Nyakane at the World Cup. He’s back tormenting props at the French club and will re-join the Sharks next year.
Marx is taking a sabbatical from the Lions and is bringing the pain for Shining Arcs in Japan’s Top League. A strong Super Rugby season seemingly took its toll as he was a step off his usual pace for the Springboks, relinquishing the No.2 jersey to the red-hot Bongi Mbonambi, so a change of scenery might be just what he needs to recapture the form that made him the world’s best hooker in the eyes of many. Akker van der Merwe is at Sale, while Bismarck du Plessis is still trucking along at Montpellier.
A great servant of Sharks rugby, and Cheetahs rugby before that, Oosthuizen’s now plying his trade at Sale, who he joined on a three-year deal after an excellent swansong Currie Cup season. One of the unlucky ones who narrowly missed out on a place in the Springbok World Cup squad, the 30-Test Bok’s set to be a prominent figure in the Sale scrum with his ability to play on both sides of the front row. Ex-Bok Marcel van der Merwe is a long-time swing-prop at Toulon, while Oli Kebble has become a cornerstone of the Glasgow scrum.
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