The 2020-21 Champions Cup kicks off tonight amid much excitement and optimism after the disruptive 2019-20 instalment. Taking to the field in the second game of the evening will be Top 14 giants Toulouse who will strut their stuff against the northern Irishmen of Ulster in what is anticipated to be one of the picks of the round. The game offers a mouth-watering array of individual match-ups – one particular one amongst the hard men up front – Ulster’s Sean Reidy and Rynhardt Elstadt of Toulouse.
Both men will don the number 6 on their backs tonight and, if true to form, their names will be uttered with a high degree of regularity by the commentary team.
Reidy was born in New Zealand in 1989 and qualifies to play for Ireland through his grandfather who hailed from County Kerry. After growing up in Auckland, Reidy made the move to Ireland in 2014, taking up with his current club, for whom he has won an impressive 123 caps. He made his international debut for Ireland during the latter’s tour to South Africa in 2016.
Reidy is one of the Pro14’s most industrious flankers. From his base at the side of the scrum, he is ravenous on defence, currently holding fourth spot in a very closely contested tackle stat with a total of 93 so far from 8 appearances, giving him an average of 11.6 per game.
He pulls his 105kg weight on attack as well, averaging 7 carries per game and has, thus far, has gained 5 steals at ruck time. Although not the tallest back-rower around (standing at 6ft), he is utilised effectively in the lineouts as well and has also managed to dive over for three tries so far this season in the Pro14.
Reidy’s characteristic, up-tempo game will be an asset this weekend, as around every corner will lurk the burly figure of one Rynhardt Elstadt.
Elstadt became a Springbok in 2019 – far later than many would have expected – and has risen to great prominence in France since his debut in the colours of Toulouse in 2017. Having learnt his rugby on the hard ground of the Boland in the Western Cape region of South Africa, the flanker exudes the tough, uncompromising, never-give-up attitude his countrymen are known for.
With 6 appearances under the belt so far in the Top 14, Elstadt has contributed 3 tries, 36 carries, 70 tackles, 2 turnovers and 16 lineouts.
The pair’s tackling stats are quite similar while it appears that Reidy has superior energy in terms of carries. Elstadt, however, is called upon far more as a regular lineout option. Interestingly, they show a similar propensity for scoring tries, Elstadt also with 3 to his name.
This micro-contest is sure to add flavour to what promises to be a fierce battle between two heavyweights in their respective countries. Reidy’s tireless work will have to contend with a barrage of attrition he (and his teammates) are sure to experience from the relentless physical force that is Elstadt.