I have been a rugby fan for the best part of my 40 years of existence. I have followed many generations of Boks, Bulls and on the rare occasion even a Stormer or a Shark or two. 🙂
We have had many great players in my lifetime, but I was wondering if I had to pick only the ultimate legends of Springbok rugby who would they be. These must be the guys that were undeniably at the very top of their positions in the world.
After much pondering and trying to be completely fair I have made MY choices. Here in no particular order they are:
Carel du Plessis: Despite the pretentions of Bryan Habana, Carel “The Prince” du Plessis edges it.
Danie Gerber: The best swerve in the game. Will probably be the most popular pick. Our best centre ever.
Victor Matfield: Gave us the 2007 World Cup. Best lock SA has ever had. One of the 3 best locks the world has ever had.
André Joubert: The best 15 we’ve ever produced. Had the balance of a ballet dancer. Played us into the World Cup final in 1995. We could use him now!
Joost van der Westhuizen: Fourie du Preez and Divan Serfontein might have something to say about it, but to me Joost is probably still the best 9 we have had. Was a big part of our 1995 success.
However I sincerely without favour or prejudice believe that the greatest player we have produced is none other than Hendrik Ignatius Botha aka Naas. I don’t think any other player was as influenced by Apartheid as Naas Botha. Had he been allowed to play at the highest level in his prime, I believe he would today have been known as Rugby’s Pele. The prodigious and more importantly realised talent that this kid had at 18 is to this day unmatched in my opinion.
The way that Naas could determine a game’s outcome with only a lock and a scrumhalf is actually quite unbelievable today. Who could ever forget the final against Transvaal when Naas “dropped” Northern’s to the title. I remember him kicking for the corner when the ball dropped a half metre out and a half metre from touch. Not punted into the stands, but inch perfect. This he literally did 4 or 5 times I game. Today great players get
cheered for doing it once in a game. He could also kick with both feet. Not some makeshift hack, but real accurate kicking!
Yes sir. For me our greatest rugby player of all time remains Naas Botha.