Adriaan Richter On The Bulls And Boks

Our reporter Boitshepo Monaledi enjoyed a light brunch with former Bulls and Springbok eighthman and captain Adriaan Richter recently to pick his brain on the current state of his former teams.  Richter believes the Pretoria side and his national team are both in good states and is particularly excited about the Rugby World Cup later this year.  The 49-year old is tipping the Springboks to win the World Cup for a third time.

BM:  How was your time at the Bulls?

AR:  I enjoyed my time as a first team player at the Bulls.  I also captained the side for, if I remember well, for some 127 matches.  This should be the third-most in the history of the club.  Also I joined a Bulls team that was in a rebuilding phase.  Some of its players had left or retired the year before.  It took time for us to get the club back to winning ways but once we got started, trophies returned to the club’s trophy cabinet.  I found it good to be joining a Bulls team that was rebuilding because it was easier to fit in and establish myself in the team without too much pressure.

What is your take of the current crop of players comparing them to your days?

There’s not much of a difference between the two.  The winning mentality is still there at the club.  It formed part of the club’s virtues in my time and this is still the case today.  The supporters formed a huge part of our winning mentality and this is still the case.  The biggest difference is the professionalism of the sport today.  The sport pays more, generates more income and the players are bigger icons during their playing days.

Do you think the Springboks have a strong chance of winning the World Cup this year?

We won the tournament in 1995 and in 2007.  It is time that we win it again.  I believe the boys can go out and do it.  On the occasions in which we didn’t win it, we came pretty close so I don’t see why we shouldn’t win it.  No matter how badly we may play, everyone bets on the Springboks to reach the semi-finals and once you’re that far in the tournament anything can happen.  Whoever wants the trophy more ends up winning it.

What would be your best 22 if you could select one for the World Cup?

(Laughs) There are too many good players for me to outright name my pick.  The coach of the Boks has always been spoiled for choice and this year is no different.  If the captain is right, is in the right mind frame, and can get all the players behind himself and the coach then half of the battle has already been won.  We saw this with John Smit in 2007 and Francois Pienaar in 1995.  I believe Jean De Villiers has the right attitude to rally the team behind the same course and make sure everyone is on the same page.  Commitment from the current crop will also help us going a long way in the tournament.  With all I’ve said, if those things are put together, then our chances of winning will shoot up.

What’s your take on Schalk Burger’s influence and return to the pitch?

Schalk is a big player.  He has the experience and the attitude to match.  Whenever he plays he puts his heart on his sleeve.  He can help Jean rally the younger guys to keep their heads level throughout the tournament.  Ever since he returned to the pitch he has involved himself more on the play of a game.  If he brings this attitude to the World Cup, he’ll be an easier pick and a morale boost to the squad on the field as well as in camp generally.  I wish him all the best.

What’s your take on Schalk Burger’s influence and return to the pitch?

Schalk is a big player.  He has the experience and the attitude to match.  Whenever he plays he puts his heart on his sleeve.  He can help Jean rally the younger guys to keep their heads level throughout the tournament.  Ever since he returned to the pitch he has involved himself more on the play of a game.  If he brings this attitude to the World Cup, he’ll be an easier pick and a morale boost to the squad on the field as well as in camp generally.  I wish him all the best.

Richter noted that mixing experience with flair will bring the best out the squad, making them hot contenders for the trophy.  With the right selection Heyneke Meyer can include himself on the Kitch Christie and Jake White list, reckons Richter.