In the first of a series, DYLAN JACK rewinds to 2009 British & Irish Lions tour and looks at where those Emerging Springboks are now.
In a thrilling encounter in Cape Town, the Emerging Springboks snatched a 13-13 draw with the Lions with literally the last kick of the game.
The Lions came into the match looking to get back to winning ways after losing the first of their three Tests against the senior Springboks.
However, the visitors were given a tough game in a wet-weather match at Newlands as the Emerging Springboks did not give an inch in search of what would have been a stunning victory.
The Lions opened up a 13-6 lead thanks to a try from Ireland’s Keith Earls, with flyhalves Ronan O’Gara and James Hook each contributing a penalty. In an incredible finish to the game, wing Danwel Demas came off the bench to go score in the left corner, leaving Willem de Waal with a tough task to slot the conversion. The Western Province flyhalf held his nerve to nail the kick, ending the Lions’ hopes of a 100% record in the non-Test matches.
15 Zane Kirchner
Kirchner would go on to win two Vodacom Super Rugby titles and one Currie Cup with the Vodacom Bulls. After a total of over 100 appearances in all competitions for the Pretoria franchise, he left to join PRO14 giants Leinster in 2013. His first full season in the Irish capital would be successful, helping the side into the PRO12 final, where he scored a brace of tries to take them to the title. Kirchner made a total of 82 appearances for Leinster before moving to Wales to join the Dragons for the 2017-18 season. After a season with the Dragons, he was loaned to the Bristol Bears for 2018-19 and released by the Dragons at season’s end.
Internationally, after playing for the Emerging Boks, Kircher made his senior Springbok debut in the third and final Test against the Lions. In total, he won 31 Test caps and represented the Boks at the 2015 World Cup.
14 Luzuko Vulindlu
Before playing for the Emerging Boks, Vulindlu had already made his Super Rugby debut for the Sharks, having also represented the Durban team at U19 and U21 levels. At that stage, he career appeared to be on an upward trajectory as he first played against the B&I Lions for the Sharks, before being selected for the Emerging Springboks.
However, only a handful of senior appearances came in the following years and in 2011 he moved to France with ProD2 side Auch and then returned to South Africa and enjoyed stints with Griquas and the SWD Eagles.
A second chance at Super Rugby came with the Kings in 2016 and after earning a permanent contract, he would star for the team and continue with them when they switched to the PRO14. After making close to 50 appearances, Vulindlu was released from his contract in 2018.
He currently lives in Cape Town and works with dietary supplement company Herbalife, while also looking to mentor young players.
13 Deon van Rensburg
Van Rensburg played against the B&I Lions twice in 2009 – for the Emerging Boks and the Highveld XV. After starting his professional career at the Leopards, he moved to the Lions in 2009, playing Super Rugby and Currie Cup for the Johannesburg team. In total, Van Rensburg played 89 times for the Lions, scoring 95 points and winning the Currie Cup in 2011.
Van Rensburg retired in 2014 after a persistent leg injury, which kept him out of that year’s Currie Cup season. He is currently putting his MPharm from North-West University to good work as a pharmacist at Helderkruin Pharmacy, while also serving as head coach at Randfontein Rugby Club.
12 Morgan Newman
Newman previously represented the Emerging Springboks during the 2008 IRB Nations Cup, captaining the team as they retained the trophy. Having grown up in Athlone, Newman would fulfil his dream of playing for Western Province, representing them 60 times in the Currie Cup. He would also play for the Stormers during the 2009 Super Rugby season.
In 2011, Newman left Cape Town to join the Cheetahs for a short spell before he had a stint with the Kings in the same year.
He would then go on to play club rugby for Hamiltons in Cape Town, while also working for EVOX advanced nutrition and co-presenting on Cape Rugby TV. Currently, Newman owns a functional training facility, the HIIT Club, and a sports bar, the Hamilton 1875 – both in Green Point. He is also a sports presenter on Cape radio station Good Hope FM.
11 Bjorn Basson
Basson showed a fantastic potential as he lit up the Currie Cup for Griquas, building a reputation as a speedster while also demonstrating a deadly aerial ability. His most prolific season came in 2010 as he scored five tries for the Cheetahs in Super Rugby, before breaking the Currie Cup record with 21 tries in a season for Griquas and winning Currie Cup Player of the Year.
His efforts earned him a move to the Bulls and he finished as the 2011 Super Rugby joint-top try-scorer with 11 tries. He extended his initial two-year contract until 2016.
Internationally, Basson made 11 Test appearances in three years for the Springboks between 2011 and 2013.
Following a stint with Japanese Top League side Honda Heat, Basson left the Bulls to join the Stormers. However, he struggled to get consistent game time and move to France with Oyonnax in December 2017. A return to South Africa came with the Kings in 2018 and he made scored eight tries in 17 appearances with the team from Port Elizabeth.
Currently, Basson plays for Russian side Enisei-STM.
10 Earl Rose
While he grew up in the Western Cape and represented Western Province at youth level, Rose made his name with the Cats and Lions in Johannesburg.
Before playing for the Emerging Boks, Rose was something of a surprise selection to the Springbok squad for the 2008 end-of-year tour. While he was part of the squad, he did not earn an official cap. He returned and played against the B&I Lions, slotting two penalties to keep his side in touch with the visitors.
After a final season with the Lions in 2010, Rose joined the Stormers on a short-term deal in 2011. From there, he continued to play club rugby in the Western Cape.
Unfortunately, the flyhalf has recently hit the headlines for the wrong reasons, as he was accused of theft in 2019.
9 Jano Vermaak
Possibly one of the underrated scrumhalves to have come through the South African system, Vermaak made his name as a nippy player at the Lions who was deadly around the fringes of the breakdown.
After making his senior debut in 2005, Vermaak would play for the Lions until the end of the 2011 Super Rugby season. A move across the Jukskei to the Bulls followed and he spent two seasons in Pretoria. Vermaak then got the opportunity for overseas experience with Toulouse in 2013.
After two seasons in France, Vermaak returned to South Africa in 2015 with Western Province and the Stormers. This would be his final stint as he last played on the domestic scene in 2019.
Internationally, Vermaak played for the Junior Springboks in 2006 and made his senior Springbok debut in 2012. He would win another two caps for the Boks, while he also played for South Africa A against the English Saxons in 2017 and enjoyed a final run with the Barbarians at the end of last year.
Photo: Action Images/Jason O’Brien