Beyond the Touchline: Routines and rituals of Springbok players

How do rugby players prepare for a bruising test match? How do they steel themselves for battle on the highest stage? In the 5th episode of Beyond the Touchline we explore pre-game habits of Springbok players

'I always pack my kit bag in the same order' - Joel Stransky. Picture: Reuters

Sportspeople have different ways of getting themselves in the zone, a state of intense concentration as they try to bring their mind to bear on the task at hand.

Some say a prayer, others little to music, and for some, like Franco Mostert, a can of Red Bull will do.

Joel Stransky had his habits too. “I always pack my kit bag in the same order. It had to be layered, with certain things in the bottom, then my towel. The last pair of boots was the one you expected to wear in the match. I always put my jersey on last, and then I always wanted to run on to that field last.”

Even the younger generation of Springboks have their routines and habits, like Sbu Nkosi. “The only superstition I have is that I have to cross the line with my right foot first. It’s a weird thing, but that’s the only superstition I have,” he says.

Music plays a bit part in motivating players ahead of a game. It energises them and helps them focus. “Most of the boys try to get into the zone, and control the emotions. I’ve been a big 80s fan. I always have my 80s music on. There was some significance for me,” says former Springbok Breyton Paulse.

Schalk Brits’ taste in music may surprise you. “I’ve got some classical Beethoven music playing. It’s not your typical music you would listen to before a game, but I like to calm down focus.”

Sbu Nkosi’s playlist is a lot more modern and youthful. “On my playlist before a game is Frank Casino’s Whole Thing. The message is in it. We want the whole thing, we don’t want half, the don’t want a quarter – the whole thing.”