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Blast from the past

Written by Stephen Smith (StevieS)

Posted in :Original Content on 24 Mar 2015 at 11:38
Tagged with : , , , ,

Hi Sharks fans. As a special treat we here at Sharksworld are bringing you an interview with a Sharks legend, Andre Snyman.

Steve: Hi Andre. How are you, and what have you been up to since you left the Sharks and what are you doing now you’ve hung up your playing boots? (Please detail overseas playing career, after rugby, where you live etc)

Andre Snyman: I left the Sharks at the end of the Currie Cup season in 2003 and joined Leeds Carnegie RFC, in Yorkshire, England. Played for Leeds until I finally hung up my boots in April 2007. I had a short stint in Perpignan, France but ran into visa problems and returned to Leeds where I was coached by now England coach, Stuart Lancaster. After hanging up my boots, I travelled for a while before I returned to South Africa where I married and started a family. I have a 7 year old daughter and 5 year old son. It was due to my children and the fact that my wife had a Green Card (permanent residency) for the USA, that we decided to relocate to the USA in 2011.

Steve: So how did you end up in America coaching? And during your playing days did you ever think you’d end up as a coach?

Andre Snyman: Fortunately, the Chairman of Varsity College RFC afforded me the opportunity to start my coaching career at Varsity College in 2010 and it was the foundation I needed to be able to apply for coaching positions in the USA – which we did. However, it was Shawn “Busty” van Rensburg (Glenwood High School Director of Rugby and Varsity College RFC coach) who made the initial introduction between Glendale RFC, here in Denver and myself. Shawn had played a bit here in the USA and contacted the Director of Rugby here at Glendale and told him that I was looking to relocate. And the rest is history.

No, I didn’t. I took a break after playing rugby and concentrated on starting my business in Durban which was a home maintenance business. I refrained from rugby to give myself a break and get away from the temptation to make a comeback. I focused on my newly started family and the business. But when I had that all under control, I was drawn back to my passion – rugby. The best way I knew how to give back to the game was to coach and share the knowledge that I had spent 16 years acquiring. And that is how I moved into coaching.

Steve: What league does your team play in and how does the level of rugby in that league compare to the Currie Cup competition?

Andre Snyman: The Glendale Raptors play in the Pacific Rugby Premiership. It is made up of the top 7 rugby teams in the Western region of the USA. Our season runs from Feb – May and we play a round robin home and away. The level of rugby has certainly improved tremendously from when I first got here in 2011. Rugby is still amateur here and we only train twice a week with an extra short skills session on a Monday. So the level of rugby is comparable to the SA Varsity Cup/Community Cup level.

Steve: Due to the Olympics there has been an increase in interest in rugby in the USA. Do you see them becoming a major force within the next five years or are the traditional American sports too strong?

Andre Snyman: Yeah a bit of both. Currently, rugby is the fastest growing team sport in the USA. However, unless a major sponsor/s become involved and make the game professional, USA rugby will struggle to become a tier 1 rugby competitor. Players do not get paid here and are not able to train every day as they have to earn a living elsewhere and until they are able to make a living out of rugby, they will struggle to compete against professionally trained and paid players. And yes, traditional American sports are definitely a force to reckon with as far as monopolising potential sponsorships.

Steve: What is your favourite American sport and who do you support?

Andre Snyman: We are fortunate to live in a city that has 4 top professional sports. The Denver Broncos NFL Football team, the Avalanche NHL Ice Hockey team, the Denver Nuggets NBA basketball team and the Rockies MLB baseball team. I enjoy all 4 and watch whenever time allows. If I had to pick a favourite, I would say football because of it’s rugby ties but ice hockey is a great game to watch and I enjoy watching it live. I support all 4 of the Denver professional teams.

Steve: Do you have any ambitions to come back and coach in South Africa? Have there been any offers?

Andre Snyman: We are very happy here in the USA and Glendale RFC is a great program and I am extremely fortunate to be here. I have not had any offers from South Africa and therefore I have not given it any thought at this stage. But I am first and foremost a South African and home is home.

Steve: How do you rate the Sharks chances of winning Super XV given their slow start to the season, and what areas, if any, do you think they need to focus on?

Andre Snyman: They will always be competitive but I don’t see them winning it this year. There needs to be more consistency in team selection and not only that, they have had a rocky road with coaching staff chopping and changing in the last year and that surely has to have disrupted the players because every new coach brings in new structures and ideas. It takes the players a while to adjust to the new systems.

Steve: Given your well documented ankle injuries, what advice do you have for Pieter-Steph Du Toit after his latest knee injury?

Andre Snyman: He has age on his side so take the rehab slowly and don’t rush trying to get back on the pitch. Surround himself with people who support him and keep him motivated and positive.

Steve: What is your favourite rugby memory overall, and your favourite in a Sharks jersey?

Andre Snyman: Favourite memory is my try at Twickenham in 1997 against England and winning the 1998 Tri Nations and Currie Cup (Blue Bulls) in the same year.

Favourite memory in a Sharks jersey – the Flasher Girls – only kidding. Unfortunately I didn’t win any tournaments in a Sharks jersey but just playing at Kings Park for me was memorable enough. I was born and raised in KZN and always wanted to be a Shark and I accomplished that.

Steve: Who was your favourite centre partner of all time, and who was your favourite centre partner at the Sharks?

Andre Snyman: Center partner of all time was Danie van Schalkwyk when I played for the Blue Bulls from 1994-1999. And my favourite Sharks centre without a doubt was Trevor Halstead.

Steve: Finally, I’m asking you to play Springbok Coach and pick your match-day 23 for the World Cup Final.

Andre Snyman:

1.Tendai Mtawarira
2.Adriaan Strauss
3.Coenie Oosthuizen
4.Juandre Kruger
5.Eben Etzebeth
6.Marcel Coetzee
7.Willem Alberts
8.Duane Vermeulen
9.Sarel Pretorius
10.Handre Pollard
11.Bjorn Basson
12.Jan Serfontein
13.Jean de Villiers (being hopeful)
14.Damian de Allende
15.Willie le Roux
16.Dean Greyling
17.Bismarck Du Plessis
18.Schalk van der Merwe
19. Victor Matfield
20. Nizaam Carr
21. Ruan Pienaar
22. Juan de Jongh
23. Pat Lambie


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