Richardt Strauss could very likely have his own quiz question in the near future – which Heineken Cup winner made his international debut against the country of his birth, directly opposing his cousin in the front row?
After three years in the Leinster front row, Richardt Strauss qualified to play for Ireland via the residency rule and a Saturday night showdown against South Africa seemed the perfect starting block.
In a further ironic twist, it fell that his cousin Adriaan Strauss was selected as the Springboks’ starting hooker, so the pair were rivalling hookers at the Aviva Stadium.
Richardt savoured his first cap for his adopted country, admitting: “It was something I wanted to cherish and remember. Apart from the result (16-12 defeat), I think it is something that’s special and it is just ironic that I happened to play against my cousin.
“Yeah, I’m delighted to get the first one under my belt but I’m bitterly disappointed with the result.”
As the TV cameras panned across the Ireland line-up before kick-off, the sight of Strauss proudly singing ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ left a lasting memory.
Learning the anthem was an important box to tick for Strauss, who went online to make sure he was word perfect in his delivery.
“I actually thought of it a while back but I thought I don’t want to be arrogant and jinx the whole thing (of being selected to play), so I thought I’ll do it the first week in camp and then got overcome with all the new detail and left it off until last week,” he explained.
“I started learning it off then, to be honest, and it was actually quite easy. I looked it up on YouTube and then on the internet a bit, and then listened to it and played it back.
“I got another thing off the internet where they break the words into a more simple pronunciation. I tried to keep it as private as possible, maybe a couple (of my team-mates) were surprised by it.”
As his parents Andries and Colleen watched on from the stands, Strauss had a brief departure from the pitch early on after an unfortunate collision with Ruan Pienaar’s boot.
With his split lip still healing some days later, he recounted the incident: “It happened with Ruan Pienaar and he’s the most softly-spoken, nicest guy there is. As he kicked I tried to ankle tap him and just dived into the back of his boot, so I was pretty unlucky.
“I felt my teeth. As I stood up I felt the warm blood on my chin and then felt a bit of a split so I knew it wasn’t too bad.”
Strauss was happy enough with his first outing for Ireland, mindful of grasping the opportunity with injured Ulsterman Rory Best currently on the sidelines.
He admitted there is room for improvement in his lineout throwing and play in the loose as thoughts turn to the Fiji and Argentina games.
“You’re never happy with everything you did. Obviously there’s some good stuff but you’re always looking at the stuff you didn’t do right.
“For me, there’s loads of breakdown work I’d like to work on. A couple of lineouts didn’t go as planned too so that’s something we’ll have a look at and try to sort out.
“You always have to learn. The day you stop learning is the day you have to hang up your boots. Whenever you think you’ve got it all, that’s when you’re going to get hurt.
“I think the day when a player thinks he has it all is the day when he has to walk out the door,” insisted the 26-year-old.
Asked if he would be able now to teach ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ to fellow Ireland newcomer Michael Bent, Strauss quipped: ‘I wouldn’t go that far!”