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Snyman's serious injury sparks debate about the role of his Munster lineout lifters

By Josh Raisey
(Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Another notable name was added to the Munster injury list this weekend when new signing RG Snyman – the World Cup-winning Springbok – came off just seven minutes into their Guinness PRO14 contest with Leinster at the Aviva Stadium. 

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The province revealed the worst possible news on Tuesday that the second row had torn his ACL and is set to be absent for six to nine months.  

This not only slashes through his two-year stay at Thomond Park but also throws his chances of making the Springboks squad for the British and Irish Lions tour next year into jeopardy, let alone any Test fixtures before then.

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England forward Courtney Lawes guests on All Access, the RugbyPass interview series hosted by Jim Hamilton
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England forward Courtney Lawes guests on All Access, the RugbyPass interview series hosted by Jim Hamilton

The injury came when Snyman landed awkwardly following a steal at the lineout, an incident that has prompted an online discussion regarding the responsibility of his Munster lifters. 

Many lineouts are completed in a match without any problems, but there is always an inherent risk in this set-piece. Moreover, the risk is greater in defensive lineouts where the players are far more impulsive as they are reacting to what the opposing players are doing. 

This potentially prevents the lifters – and even the jumpers – from being as secure and stable as the team throwing into the set-piece more or less know where to be and what to do in the process. 

As a consequence, a player like Snyman can be left in a hazardous position. His lifters last Saturday were Billy Holland and Peter O’Mahony and while they didn’t ensure the South African landed as safely as possible, they can hardly be blamed as it is not that uncommon to see a player free-fall to the ground. 

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https://twitter.com/DHaych80/status/1298187630316847104?s=20

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Lifters do have a duty of care at every lineout to ensure their teammate – and their opponent – lands safely, but there are often mitigating factors. 

A crooked throw can set the jumper off balance, while the player competing for the ball can cause havoc. That is understandably why players are often penalised for infringing at the lineout. 

An injury like this will always evoke questions surrounding the safety of the lineout, and law tweaks are often made to achieve that. But more than anything at the moment, all those involved with Munster will be rueing the absence of one of their landmark signings for the rest of the 2019/20 season and well into the next.

 

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