Dan Biggar offers theory for why Springboks’ player friction was ‘such a positive’ in World Cup win

Colin Newboult
Springboks duo Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth alongside Wales great Dan Biggar.

Springboks duo Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth alongside Wales great Dan Biggar.

Wales legend Dan Biggar believes that it is a good thing there was disagreement between some of the Springboks players during the Rugby World Cup.

It was revealed in the Chasing the Sun 2 documentary that powerhouse trio Eben Etzebeth, Duane Vermeulen and Siya Kolisi butted heads during their campaign in France.

All three were key components of the leadership group but the Etzebeth-Kolisi bond often clashed with the experienced and opinionated Vermeulen as South Africa secured their fourth world title.

Conflict over harmony

That revelation might be a surprise to some outsiders, thinking that a World Cup-winning team is a harmonious environment, but Biggar felt that their “friction” was perfect for the Boks.

“I see that as such a positive, that there’s friction between your big players and your leaders because they all want the same thing,” he told The Rugby Pod.

“They all want to raise standards, they all want to make sure that the team is lifting the trophy at the end of the tournament.”

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Biggar used the Manchester United football team from 1999, who famously won the treble, as an example of a side where conflict can help.

In fact, the Wales great theorised that all dominant teams who achieve something special have that needle between a few of the team-mates.

“I read Gary Neville’s autobiography quite a long time ago and he was saying that in the great Manchester United team that won the treble, (Teddy) Sheringham, Roy Keane, (Peter) Schmeichel, there were three or four players that did not like each other as people.

“But when they got on the training pitch or they got in a meeting room, they just pulled (together) and wanted to win so much that they brought people with them.

“They forgot about the personalities and left their egos on the side and just pulled together.

“That sounds like they’ve (the Boks) got three unbelievable players, leaders and personalities. It seems like every proper, proper successful team have got a little bit of that in it.”

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The future

The Springboks will undoubtedly make changes to their leadership group going forward, with those three players now the wrong side of 30.

Vermeulen has already retired, calling an end to his playing career following the 2023 World Cup triumph, and he has since taken a high powered position within SA Rugby’s coaching structures.

Meanwhile, there is uncertainty as to whether Kolisi, who is now 32, will retain the captaincy in this next four-year cycle.

Head coach Rassie Erasmus has also expressed doubts about Etzebeth’s chances of making another global tournament.

Like Kolisi, the gargantuan second-row is 32, but he has a lot of miles on the clock after making his Boks debut as a 20-year-old in 2012.

READ MORE: Rassie Erasmus doubts that star Springbok will make the 2027 Rugby World Cup