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Cobus Reinach: From the wilderness to a World Cup hat-trick

At the outset of the 2019 Super Rugby season few would have suggested that Cobus Reinach would be in the Springboks Rugby World Cup squad.

Reinach was not in a Super Rugby squad having joined the Nothampton Saints in 2017 and he had last pulled on a Springbok jersey in 2015.

Cobus Reinach’s Springbok lineage

Reinach is the son of former Springbok wing Jaco Reinach and spent his formative years in the Free State. He attended the Springbok factory that is Grey College in Bloemfontein.

Despite his Free State origins much of Reinach’s senior career was spent in Durban with the Sharks.

He made his Super Rugby debut for the Sharks in 2012 but played just one minute in his first campaign in the world’s toughest provincial competition. The same year he became a regular in the Sharks Currie Cup side in tandem with Charl Mcleod. Mcleod and Reinach would establish themselves as the Sharks interchangeable half-backs into the next season. 

In 2013 Reinach won the Currie Cup with the Sharks who beat Western Province in a rematch of the 2012 final. Earlier that year Reinach had impressed in Super Rugby in a campaign that included the Sharks first ever win against the Crusaders in Christchurch. Reinach scored a memorable try on that day endearing him to the Kings Park faithful.

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Cobus Reinach of the Sharks gets his pass away during the Super Ruby Semi Final match between the Crusaders and the Sharks at AMI Stadium on July 26, 2014 in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Springbok call-up

In 2014 injuries to Ruan Pienaar and Fourie du Preez paved the way for Reinach to make his Springbok debut. He would make his Springbok bow in the Rugby Championship match against Australia at Newlands on 27 September 2014. A week later he came off the bench to help the Springboks earn their first win over the All Blacks in three years.

Reinach also featured of the end of year tour scoring tries against England and Italy.

He featured in four of the Springboks Rugby Championship engagements in 2015 but failed to make the Rugby World Cup squad and fell out of favour.

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JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – OCTOBER 04: Cobus Reinach of South Africa kicks the ball upfield during the Rugby Championship match between the South African Springboks and the New Zealand All Blacks at Ellis Park Stadium on October 4, 2014 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Cobus Reinach gets Sainted

In 2017 Northampton acquired the scrumhalf’s services and he has established himself as a regular in the Saints lineup.

His stable boot, excellent match awareness, pace and strength make him an asset to a Premiership outfit.

Reinach has started 30 matches for the Saints since joining the club in 2017 and has come off the bench for a further 13 appearances. Reinach has scored 16 tries for the Saints and caught the eye of Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus.

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LEICESTER, ENGLAND – MARCH 22: Cobus Reinach of Northampton Saints dives for the first try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints at Welford Road Stadium on March 22, 2019 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

New rules pave the way for return

At the beginning of 2019 SA Rugby decided it was fighting a losing battle by prescribing that players must be based in South Africa or have played 30 Tests or more to be considered for Springbok selection.

That decision meant that Erasmus could select players based in Europe including Reinach and another breakout World Cup star Cheslin Kolbe.

Reinach offered Erasmus some middle-ground between the vastly experienced Faf de Klerk and exciting rookie Herschel Jantjies. He marked his return to the Springbok team with a Rugby Championship try against the Wallabies at Ellis Park. He started the Friendly Test against Argentina at Loftus, but otherwise, his opportunities have been limited to substitute appearances.

Cobus Reinach at the Rugby World Cup

The 29-year-old came off the bench against Namibia to make his Rugby World Cup but would have to wait until the Springboks final group match for his first start.

Reinach did not disappoint and has ratcheted up the pressure on de Klerk and Jantjies. The scrumhalf kicked well, marshalled the pack superbly and scored three excellent tries in the first-half before being substituted after 53 minutes. 

Experienced and composed, Reinach could be a valuable asset to Erasmus going forward in the tournament.

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