Andre Snyman was a Sharks, Blue Bulls and a Springbok player. He plied his trade in South Africa, Europe and many more areas. He left South Africa and took up a new challenge in the USA as the coach of Glendale Raptors. The Raptors compete in the Pacific Rugby Premiership and have recently won the tournament. We get to chat to Andre on his time in the US and how he has adapted and found the going there…
Benedict Chanakira Spoke to Springbok legend Andre Snyman
BC – What have you been up to since 2007?
AS – “I was in South Africa, started a business and also started to coach. I went to Denver, Colorado in 2011 and started coaching the Raptors”.
BC – Why coach in the USA?
AS – “Well for starters I was turned down so many times in South Africa and the fact there are so many recycled players who also want to be coaching it was a challenge. I decided to take an offer that came my way from an acquaintance. The game of rugby is the fastest growing sport here and decided to take up the challenge”.
BC – What league is the Pacific Rugby Premiership?
AS – “The Pacific Rugby Premiership is a mixture of the Community Cup and the Varsity Cup. We have guys who are studying at college and University in our team as well as guys who work and have jobs. So it is a good mixture of all those.”
BC – Can South Africa learn anything?
AS – “Well nothing much really, in fact the Americans can learn from the South Africans, New Zealanders, etc. who have the game as a profession. We still have the game growing and hope to get it to explode. We still in our growing phase.”
BC – Since you have been with the Raptors for a few years now, do you have any desire to take on the mantle at the higher levels of coaching?
AS – “With the game still growing, who knows. I managed to have a stint as the US Eagles 7’s defence coach for about 6 months and now I am just getting some experience at the moment.”
BC – What are your fondest playing moments?
AS – “It will have to be my Springbok debut, being part of the 1998 tour side which dismantled the french in the closing game of their stadium, winning that Tri Nations was also special and the 1998 Currie Cup win with the Bulls. What does stick out was the try I scored in 1997 against England.”
BC – Does Andre have any temptations as a coach now that would be derived from his playing days?
AS – “I think it would be to take my boots and get on the field and play. Hey listen, I am in my 40`s now and the body is past that stage. Its also a challenge to coach the players beyond the “now” of the game but instead looking at four or five phases ahead. It is the coaching of reading the game (defence, attack the opposition) that is key.”
BC – The US won the London Sevens and continue to make strides forward. What next for the US?
AS – ” We all talk of the sleeping giant, working hard and consistency will see him awake and challenging. Consistency is key and being able to keep the high intensity and game elevation is required. The giant will not wake up tomorrow but they are going in the right direction.”
BC – On the proposed “Six Nations of the Americas?”
AS – “The sponsor better have lots of money. The dynamics and logistics involved in the tournament games are quite pricey. In Terms of the playing it will be good for the development and growth of the game. Exposure and experience will be gained and it’s going to be important to have the financial aspect covered which could be the biggest stumbling block considering the game is still amateur in this area.”
BC – What is your rugby philosophy?
AS – “Run hard, play hard and enjoy the game…. Well, I want to see the guys reach the highest level. They must develop, read the game and take all their opportunities. The game must be enjoyed and players must always look to remain humble.”
BC – The USA’ chances at the World Cup?
AS – “It will be tough for them, as they are playing sides that play three or four times more tests a year than them. They will always be able to compete for the first few minutes but it will be a challenge to keep the intensity at the desired level to maybe win. They will compete against the second tier sides and possibly win but will find it challenging against the tier one sides.”
BC – NFL vs Rugby?
AS – ” That’s a big debate, one with different aspects in all departments. Both sports consist of great athletes and have their positives and negatives. Two great sports that have different ways to prepare their athletes. I guess the biggest difference is rugby is continuous and NFL is played over short bursts.”
BC – Thanks Andre!
AS – “Pleasure Benedict!”