Thanks, but no thanks: Springbok declined selection in Rassie’s team!

Find out why a prominent two-time World Cup winner rejected his inclusion in the Springboks' starting lineup this weekend.

Thanks, but no thanks: Springbok declined selection in Rassie’s team!

Rassie Erasmus was forced to alter his starting XV earlier this week after a veteran Springbok turned down the opportunity to start in Saturday’s Test against Wales.

The Springboks faced Wales in the annual Qatar Cup showdown at Twickenham in London on Saturday and the South Africans emerged 41-13 winners to retain the title they won against the All Blacks last year.

But the lead-up to the game was highlighted by an amazing act of selflessness by Frans Malherbe. When Erasmus announced the Springbok team on Tuesday, Malherbe was named as the starting tighthead prop, with Vincent Koch selected to provide back-up off the bench.

But unbeknownst to the Springbok management team, the clash against the Welsh would be the 34-year-old Koch’s 50th Test. And recognising the fact that chalking up 50 Test caps is an amazing achievement for his teammate, Malherbe asked to reverse roles to allow Koch to start in his milestone match.

Koch is a prominent member of the Springboks’ notorious Bomb Squad, having played 37 of his previous 49 Tests as a substitute off the bench and making just 12 starts throughout his international career before this past weekend’s match.


“We announced the team with Frans at tighthead,” the Springbok coach said. “Five minutes later one of the players came to me and said it was Vincent’s 50th game.

“When Franna heard that, he said: ‘No ways’. A guy that works so hard and got so few chances to start and it is in your hands, the two players are so similar.

“He also plays with guys that he knows. He and Malcolm [Marx] normally go on together. So it is now a combination, but it wouldn’t have been a combination if it wasn’t for his 50th,” the enigmatic Springbok boss explained.

“That is how much it means to the players. We don’t want a player to come off the bench when it is his 50th game. Especially when there is very little to choose between him and Frans.”


“It’s funny. We’ve made a mistake twice before,” Erasmus candidly admitted.

“We picked Springbok Lood de Jager and someone whispered in my ear the Thursday before the game it was Franco Mostert’s 50th game. It was so nice. I thought, ‘My goodness, he is going to play off the bench’.

“I went to Lood and said: ‘I made a mistake, I think Franco should start, it’s his 50th game’. Lood said he didn’t mind.

“However, I thought I’d let Lood start anyway. When we got to the huddle, Lood said he wanted to say something. He told the players it was Franco’s 50th game and he wanted Franco to start and he will play off the Springbok bench. So Lood just announced it.”

Springbok prop Vincent Koch
Springbok prop Vincent Koch. Image: Via SA Rugby website.