Best rebounder: Nel vs Rhule

Raymond Rhule’s rise is one of rugby’s great redemption stories, but does it trump WP Nel’s resurgence in Scotland?

In pursuit of finding rugby’s best rebounder, Nel downed Wasps’ rumbling stalwart Ashley Johnson in the opening round, with readers’ votes marginally favouring the Scotland prop. 

Rhule started well in national colours, scoring three tries en route to winning the 2012 World Cup with the Baby Boks, but the crafty winger’s senior career didn’t take off as smoothly. Called up to the Springbok squad in the same year, Rhule only made his senior debut five years later, playing his first test against France in 2017.

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During the five-year wait, Rhule won 116 caps and scored 43 tries for the Cheetahs, but 2017 was where his Bok career started and finished. He played the rest of his six national caps in the same year with only a solitary try against Argentina to show for his efforts, before making his final appearance in South Africa’s record defeat to the All Blacks, with the winger lambasted for a poor defensive showing that included nine missed tackles.

Rhule moved to the Stormers in 2018, but made an underwhelming impact in 15 caps and opted to leave South Africa after the 2018 Super Rugby season for Grenoble, before joining La Rochelle in 2020, with the latter breathing fresh life into his stagnating career.

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The rapid finisher scored nine tries in 18 appearances for La Rochelle, one of which was the opening try of the 2022 Champions Cup final that the team from France won for the first time. Looking like the promising youngster from years ago, Rhule’s move to France was the right call.

A powerhouse prop that drove the Cheetahs scrum for many years, Nel never cracked the Bok team and opted to move to Scotland, a call that did wonders for his career and the success of the Scotland national team.

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Since joining Edinburgh in 2012, Nel has collected an astounding 185 caps complemented by 21 tries. Three years into his Edinburgh move, Nel became eligible to represent Scotland, making his debut against Italy in 2015 and has since scored three tries in 54 Tests.

This poll has ended (since 1 year).

Who bounced back best?

WP Nel
Raymond Rhule
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

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