England star rates Springbok tighthead as best in the world

England number eight Billy Vunipola reckons his Saracens teammate and Springbok prop Vincent Koch is the best tighthead operating in world rugby today.

Vunipola lauds the impact of Springbok Koch

Vunipola heralded the Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok’s efforts for Saracens in their European Cup Quarterfinal against Leinster.

“The old notion is tighthead is probably the most important player in the team and it’s no different [now], the performance he [Koch] gave at the weekend, not only in the scrum but around the park,” Vunipola said.

Koch is an unstoppable force

Vunipola insists that when Koch is at his best, the opposition are in for a long hard day at the office.

“When Vincent is in that kind of mood and going at teams I honestly feel there is no one better in the world than him. He knows that and he knows that he has got the backing of the people around him. When he is able to be confident to go out there and do his thing, it’s a happy day for us,” said England’s game-breaking number eight.

Saracens have been relegated from the Premiership as a result of salary-cap breaches but they are seemingly determined to claim European glory before plotting a path back to the English top-flight.

Many of the club’s stars such as Vunipola and Owen Farrell have chosen to stick with them and try to fight their way back to the top.

Saracens South African connection

Saracens has been home to many South Africans including former Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok skipper Francois Pienaar who is counted among the club’s legends.

The list of South African representatives at the club is long and includes Springbok legends like Schalk Burger, John Smit and Pienaar.

Koch joined the club from the Stormers in 2016 and his debut season saw him excel as part of a Saracens side that retained their Champions Cup title, with a win against Clermont in Edinburgh, and his impressive showing in the semi-final against Munster earned him the man of the match award.

Koch’s got his first taste of international rugby as part of a South Africa President’s XV in the 2013 Tblisi Cup and made his full Springbok debut in the 2015 Rugby Championship as a replacement against the All Blacks. The 30-year-old has been capped 21 times by the Springboks and was a crucial member of Rassie Erasmus’ Bomb squad in the 2019 RWC in Japan.

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