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


  • When one looks at that team selection of his, one can’t help but be overcome by remorse for sports stars like him who’ve had their intellect negatively affected by the knocks they took during their sporting years… :mrgreen:

  • Comment 1, posted at 24.03.15 11:45:25 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • @Culling Song (Comment 1) : You do realise he’ll be reading this, right?

    I thought his team wasn’t bad at all, although I’d start with Lambie.

  • Comment 2, posted at 24.03.15 11:50:32 by StevieS Reply
  • Good looking team! Very mobile!

    I’d love to pick his brain on his selections and what kind of game he wants to play.

  • Comment 3, posted at 24.03.15 11:53:20 by ChrisS Reply
  • As a youngster I remember seeing Andre with Danie vS and Joost in the Wheel Shopping Center in Durbs the night before they played the Sharks. I was taking autographs from them and asked Andre when he will be playing for the Sharks, he whispered “very soon” making sure the others don’t hear him. The next year he was a Shark 😀

  • Comment 4, posted at 24.03.15 12:14:37 by Uli Boelie Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
    Uli Boelie
  • @Culling Song (Comment 1) :
    😆 😆 😆

    Thanks for taking the time to chat Andre.

  • Comment 5, posted at 24.03.15 12:22:43 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 5) : My pleasure. I’m grateful to him for taking the time to answer my questions.

    @Uli Boelie (Comment 4) : Great memory 😀

  • Comment 6, posted at 24.03.15 12:29:19 by StevieS Reply
  • @StevieS (Comment 6) : Yes it was, still have those signatures. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 7, posted at 24.03.15 12:37:17 by Uli Boelie Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
    Uli Boelie
  • André Snyman – great player. André Snyman’s 23 man squad for the world cup – not so great.  :mrgreen:

  • Comment 8, posted at 24.03.15 12:38:49 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Uli Boelie (Comment 7) : That’s awesome. True rugby fan.

    @Ben (Comment 8) : I guess we all have our favourites 😉

  • Comment 9, posted at 24.03.15 12:41:08 by StevieS Reply
  • @Ben (Comment 8) : What would your 23 man squad be for the final, if everyone was fit?

  • Comment 10, posted at 24.03.15 12:43:21 by StevieS Reply
  • @StevieS (Comment 10) : Okay, give my yours too.

  • Comment 11, posted at 24.03.15 12:44:46 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • 1. Beast
    2. Bismarck
    3. Jannie
    4. PSDT
    5. Etzebeth
    6. Marcell
    7. Alberts
    8. Duane
    9. Fourie
    10. Lambie
    11. Habana
    12. JDV
    13. Jaque Fourie
    14. De Allende (want him in the team somewhere)
    15. Willie Le Roux

    16. Adriaan
    17. Trevor
    18. Vincent Koch
    19. Flip
    20. Francois Louw
    21. Ruaan
    22. Handre
    23. JPP

  • Comment 12, posted at 24.03.15 12:48:45 by StevieS Reply
  • Nice read, may you help in making rugby in the USA reach its true potential.

    Northern Natal boytjie.

  • Comment 13, posted at 24.03.15 12:50:46 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @StevieS (Comment 10) :

    1. Beast
    2. Bismarck
    3. Jannie
    4. Etzebeth
    5. PSdT
    6. Marcell
    7. Alberts
    8. Vermeulen
    9. Vermaak
    10. Lambie
    11. Habana
    12. De Allende
    13. De Jongh
    14. JPP
    15. Willie

    16. Strauss
    17. Coenie
    18. The lock from the Cheetahs. Forgot his name
    19. Lappies
    20. Van Zyl
    21. Pollard
    22. Serfontein
    23. The tighthead from the Stormers. Forgot his name as well.

  • Comment 14, posted at 24.03.15 12:51:41 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 13) : I’m hoping that the USA do become a powerhouse. Would be great for the world game.

  • Comment 15, posted at 24.03.15 12:52:01 by StevieS Reply
  • @Ben (Comment 14) : Lood De Jager and Vincent Koch.

    Sjoe, very strong looking team.

  • Comment 16, posted at 24.03.15 12:53:13 by StevieS Reply
  • @StevieS (Comment 16) : Oh yeah, thanks.

  • Comment 17, posted at 24.03.15 12:54:41 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @StevieS (Comment 12) : Looks good. 😉

  • Comment 18, posted at 24.03.15 12:56:06 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @StevieS (Comment 16) : Only went for 2 overseas players.

  • Comment 19, posted at 24.03.15 12:57:44 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Ben (Comment 14) : @StevieS (Comment 15) : I’d replace JPP with frans Steyn on the bench and have De Allende and De jongh as my centres unless we can get Jacques Fourie back.

  • Comment 20, posted at 24.03.15 12:59:58 by ChrisS Reply
  • @Ben (Comment 19) : I like that, shows just how strong our local boys really are.

    @ChrisS (Comment 20) : We have lots of options. Can’t wait to see who they choose. I hope Frans gets back in, he will be a big asset to the Boks.

  • Comment 21, posted at 24.03.15 13:01:37 by StevieS Reply
  • @StevieS (Comment 15) : In my mind the USA and Russia could be such powerhouses of the game if only they could get around that mental block that makes them not realise what a lekker game rugby is.

  • Comment 22, posted at 24.03.15 13:02:50 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @Salmonoid the Subtle (Comment 22) : I think it’s also a lack of funding and support. No professional leagues in either country, so makes it hard for them to compete internationally.

  • Comment 23, posted at 24.03.15 13:05:08 by StevieS Reply
  • @StevieS (Comment 2) : You do realise that I’m expecting him to have a sense of humour, right?

    Great player who was unfortunately paired with the wrong partner; can you imagine what could have been achieved if he played alongside a creative 12, as opposed to Trevor Halstead?

  • Comment 24, posted at 24.03.15 13:31:05 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • @Culling Song (Comment 24) : Sorry, missed that 😳 He really seems a great guy, so I’m sure he’ll take it as it comes.

    Would have been great to see him outside someone like Adi Jacobs, being put into space. I must admit though, I always enjoyed the Trevor/Andre centre combo. I always felt sorry for the opposition lol

  • Comment 25, posted at 24.03.15 13:47:25 by StevieS Reply
  • @StevieS (Comment 25) : My overriding memory of the Trevor/André combo is then being humiliated by the Adi/Ettiene Botha combo (who were playing for the Valke or Pumas or something like that at the time).

    I like my centre combos to include one blunt instrument, and one surgical instrument. With those two it was more like two sledge hammers

  • Comment 26, posted at 24.03.15 13:58:44 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • @Culling Song (Comment 26) : I always liked an inside centre like Aaron Mauger or Matt Giteau. Adi was another favourite.

    They played for the Valke and were brilliant.

  • Comment 27, posted at 24.03.15 14:00:34 by StevieS Reply
  • Thanks for the interview Stevie and thank you for your time Andre. Great read.

  • Comment 28, posted at 24.03.15 14:59:51 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @vanmartin (Comment 28) : My pleasure van, glad you enjoyed it.

  • Comment 29, posted at 24.03.15 15:05:19 by StevieS Reply
  • @Culling Song (Comment 26) : Valke. Now that was a centre pairing! Funny thing is that Adi played 12 and Ettiene 13. I always liked Ettiene, was just a pity that he played for the enemies.

  • Comment 30, posted at 24.03.15 15:41:33 by KingRiaan Reply

  • @KingRiaan (Comment 30) : They dominated teams. Helped the Valke to some surprise victories.

  • Comment 31, posted at 24.03.15 15:49:27 by StevieS Reply
  • @StevieS (Comment 31) : That was as creative a midfield as you could find. Proof that you do not always need a crash ball behemoth in the midfield to win rugby games.

  • Comment 32, posted at 24.03.15 16:19:18 by KingRiaan Reply

  • I really rated Snyman, my favourite player growing up, excruciatingly unlucky as to always miss a RWC, but you don’t notch up 38 tests from 36 starts without being a bloody good rugby player. Scored some great tries and added great value. Always respected him for fighting back from injuries to making a comeback. I was 20 a long time ago, and as a surprise my boss got Andre on the line for me and chatted to me before a big test (he told me to wear pink so he could see me)… I did… (shakes head)… Oh and he also went to Dundee High, where he was the headboy, so yeah man crush alert! How built was this oke. More ripped than most players, even today! Respect Andre!

  • Comment 33, posted at 24.03.15 16:22:06 by Richard Reply

  • @Culling Song (Comment 26) : Doesn’t that get cancelled by Snyman humiliating Adi Jacobs when he played for the Bulls? Super Rugby 2004 – Snyman ran at Adi all game long, I was in tears of joy. Like a puppy trying to stop a runaway train. 105KG and fast, and angry! Also when Bobo chirped Snyman and a few seconds later got tackled and driven back 15 meters. (creep alert!)

  • Comment 34, posted at 24.03.15 16:24:53 by Richard Reply

  • @Uli Boelie (Comment 4) : nice memory.

  • Comment 35, posted at 24.03.15 23:54:22 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
  • Thanks StevieS, thanks Andre!

  • Comment 36, posted at 25.03.15 06:51:18 by pastorshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Administrator
  • Thanks for comments guys. Appreciate the memories and was honored to wear the black and white. Enjoying coaching here in the USA and giving back to the game. Follow me on Twitter @raptorscoach

  • Comment 37, posted at 25.03.15 08:12:24 by Snys13 Reply

  • @Snys13 (Comment 37) : Thanks again Andre. I’m sure we’ll all be keeping an eye on your coaching career.

    @Richard (Comment 33) : He’s a legend of the game, for the way he played and also the way he overcame consecutive injuries which would have derailed most player’s careers.

  • Comment 38, posted at 25.03.15 09:22:16 by StevieS Reply
  • @StevieS (Comment 38) : @Snys13 (Comment 37) : Great to see Andre Snyman himself commenting, hopefully we can get him to write a piece once a month? Hopefully see you around here more Snys! Cheers.

  • Comment 39, posted at 26.03.15 10:57:57 by Richard Reply


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