New Zealand Herald recently published their list of 20 All Black greats. See here.
These are the players that made All Black rugby what it is or who changed the direction or perception on how the game should be played in New Zealand. Who are the Springbok legends that formed SA rugby; who made Springbok rugby what it is?
Here is my list of 20 Springbok greats/legends. I do think they stack up well against the All Black greats.
- Danie Craven – Mr South African rugby
- Os du Randt – Two RWC gold medals; Coincidence?
- Mof Myburg – When all else fails bring Mof into the pack
- Frik du Preez – Our drop, place and score man or just say Chris Laidlaw
- Mannetjies Roux – genius is as genius does
- Naas Botha – Look at the scoreboard
- Danie Gerber – Maestro of the midfield
- Bennie Osler – Created a Springbok playing style
- Victor Matfield – 110 test caps later and never lost a line-out contest
- Jan Ellis – Fire and brimstone stuff
- Joost van der Westhuizen – try scoring machine
- Joggie Jansen – who will ever forget that tackle that turned a series
- Gysie Pienaar – Sparked a series to life; just say 1980 Lions
- Ray Mordt – Jonu who?
- Japie Krige – Just find me a wing who could stay with him
- HO de Villiers – for changing the way we saw fullback play
- Rob Louw –Mouth-watering midfield linking wing forward
- Hennie Muller – for redefining No8 play
- John Gainsford – A man’s man
- Henry Honiball – for showing that the Springboks can win matches without a flyhalf sitting in the pocket
As I went along constructing this list I realised that ‘greats’ and ‘legends’ are probably not the exact same thing.
Specifically the criteria to qualify for a ‘great’ would probably be slightly different from those for a ‘legend’. Some-one who made a significant impact in one test or a series like Joggie Jansen could be seen as a legend but not necessarily as a great. On the other hand some-one like André Venter who never had a real outstanding legendary moment but who was a stalwart over decades making outstanding contributions to team effort/accomplishments could qualify as a ‘great’ but probably not a ‘legend’.
The New Zealand Herald’s criteria were players who were world-beaters and who dominated their eras. From that perspective players like Daan Retief, Bobby Skinstad, André Venter, André Joubert, Micheal and Carel du Plessis, Louis Moolman, Piet Greyling and maybe Morné du Plessis could probably also be on a list like this.
With only 20 spots looking at players who I would class as legends; who are remembered for their impact on Springbok rugby and world rugby this would be my list.