Claassen’s French connection pays off

Antonie Claassen, son of former Springbok captain Wynand Claassen, has been picked for France.

Claassen is the ninth foreign-born player to be included in a French international line-up, the last being another South African centre, Brian Liebenberg, in 2003. He currently plays for French club Castre and has been on the fringes of selection for the last few seasons.

He has spent the core of his professional playing career in France and although he has such strong South African links, by way of Wynand having captained the Boks and having been actively involved with the Boks in the guise of national selector, the selection is reward for the investment into his playing talents in France.

Several foreign-based players arrive in France at an early stage of their careers and they should be considered locals in what the game in France has given them by way of development.

Rory Kockott, for example, is different in that his formative professional years were in South Africa at the Sharks and he has made his intention clear that part of playing club rugby in France is with the hope of playing international rugby. Claassen’s French connection goes beyond rugby with his life centred around living in France.

South Africa have representation to every Six Nations squad, although some like Richardt Strauss (Ireland) are currently injured.