Few people were more pleased than the previous coach of Lappies Labuschagne when this former Shimla was included in the Japan Rugby World Cup (RWC) squad.
Labuschagne (30) made his debut for Japan (as captain) shortly before the World Cup, which is currently underway there. On Saturday (28 Sept), he led Japan to a historic win over the world's four-ranked team, Ireland.
Labuschagne has been playing his rugby in Japan since 2016. Previously, he played for the Shimlas between 2009 and 2012 and captained the team in 2012. At that time, Jaco Swanepoel was the head coach of the Shimlas.
I'm extremely glad that he got his chance to play in the World Cup, just to prove that he can compete at that level. It was wonderful to see the leadership we knew he had on Saturday, Swanepoel said.
He believes Labuschagne was unlucky not to have played for the Springboks. In 2013, he was called up to the South African squad, but failed to force his way into the congested Springbok back row.
Subjectivity in team selection was the reason that he wasn't considered. He deserved to be selected and he worked extremely hard. I don't know of a player who worked harder than him. Nobody wanted to work out with him in the gymnasium, because he always put in extra effort. That made him special.
Swanepoel describes Labuschagne as a very special person. Lappies the human being is perhaps a little bit better than Lappies the rugby player.
Hopefully we can get a Japan rugby jersey from him to display in the Shimla room soon.
Labuschagne isn't the only former Kovsie at the RWC. In the Springbok management team, Rassie Erasmus (head coach), Jacques Nienaber (defence coach), and Vivian Verwant (physiotherapist) are also former Kovsies.
Source: University of the Free State