HARARE – It is never easy to choose representing a foreign nation over your country of birth, but sometimes it is a decision many sports persons have had to make.
That was the case for Elijah Snyman, who recently traded the green and white hoops of the Junior Sables for the green and gold of Junior Springboks.
Earlier, the Zimbabwe’s Under-18 technical team had frantically tried but failed to lure the budding lock to be part of their squad for last month’s World Rugby U20 Trophy hosted at Harare Sports Club.
They approached the former St John’s College rugby starlet with only pride to offer while there was no financial gain, inadequate structures to nurture his rugby talent and an unstable future.
But with a chance to make the Junior Springboks on the horizon and later maybe the Springboks, the Junior Blue Bulls lock politely turned down Zimbabwe’s emissaries.
As straightforward as it seemed, he admits, it was not the easiest of decisions to make.
“…it will always be a difficult decision and I am grateful for the opportunity the Junior Sables gave me,” Snyman told the Daily News from South Africa.
“Many future sportsmen will have to face the same decision and I had to have my own future in mind.
“For example Beast (Tendai Mtawarira) and Tonderai Chavhanga (followed the same route). I will always be a proud Zimbabwean. And never forget where I came from.”
The towering lock has been in sublime form for Vodacom Blue Bulls’ Under-19 side and it is no surprise the Junior Springboks technical team believes he will be an invaluable asset for them at this year’s World Rugby U20 Championship.
Snyman will hope to hold his own in the Dawie Theron-coached 28-man squad that will do battle at the tournament in Manchester, England, from June 7 to 25.
The Baby Boks will kick off the 2016 international spectacle against Japan on June 7 at the Academy Stadium, before taking on Argentina on June 11 at the AJ Bell Stadium, and France on June 15 back at the Academy Stadium in the pool stages.
“It was a great honour and a very proud moment being selected to represent the Junior Springboks at this year’s World Cup as this took an immense amount of hard work and dedication,” Snyman said.
The call up for the former Zimbabwe Under-18 lock followed an inspiration year and a half at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium based side.
Last year, he was named the Blue Bulls Under-19 Forward-of-the-Year following an exceptional debut season with the South African franchise.
For the former Zimbabwe schools Under-18 vice-captain the sky is not the limit.
“Obviously, everyone’s dream in South Africa is to become a Springbok,” he said, adding he is taking the new experience in his stride and is determined not to be just another shooting star.
“But I am not looking that far yet. I just want to take things as they come and a day at a time and see where it will lead me.
“As we all know the competition between players in South Africa is very intense.”