Raymond Rhule in action for La Rochelle in the Champions Cup. (Photo by Lionel Hahn/Getty Images)
Raymond Rhule has taken matters into his own hands to change the narrative of his rugby career after he last featured for the Springboks against New Zealand in 2017.
The 28-year-old made his long-awaited Springbok debut in 2017 despite receiving his first call-up five years prior in 2012 to a national senior camp.
South Africa were coming off a horrible 2016, where under Allister Coetzee’s tutelage, the Springboks tasted defeat on eight occasions.
The following year, the Boks started the rugby season off with five straight wins before Australia held them to a draw.
But it was the All Blacks who demolished the Springboks in a crushing 57-0 defeat in Albany, a match many fans remember for Rhule’s poor defence performance.
That match happened more than four years ago and Rhule has not played in the green and gold since that day.
However, Rhule has been making headlines in recent months, but this time for the right reasons.
The former Stormers winger has resurrected his career in France at La Rochelle, playing some eye-catching rugby for the Top14 club.
“I’ve always had faith in my ability,” Rhule said as quoted by SArugby magazine.
“Many people doubted me after what happened in 2017 and again when I left South Africa in 2018. I always knew I had something more to give.
“It’s disappointing to be cast aside and I was dealing with a few issues when I moved to France.
“What helped was that the clubs over here don’t care about your past, they only care about how you can help the team in the future. It doesn’t matter if you have 10 or 100 Test caps. I had a blank canvas.”
The winger adds that the defeat to the All Blacks, which where he used by many as a scapegoat, was a “humbling experience”.
“Sometimes the bounce of the ball doesn’t go your way in rugby, and we certainly had one of those days in Albany,” he said.
“What got to me, though, was how the whole loss was pinned on me. As things were, I didn’t have the platform to speak out or challenge what was being said in the public and media.
“I got tagged and I just had to accept it. One minute you’re the hero and the next you’re the villain. That’ not really fair. And to make matters worse, it was the last game I played for the Boks.”