Union South African Rugby Union
Nickname(s): Springboks, Springbokke, Boks, Bokke, Amabokoboko
Emblem(s): the Springbok and the Protea
Coach(es): Peter de Villiers
Captain(s): John Smit
Most caps: Victor Matfield (107)
Top scorer: Percy Montgomery (893)
Most tries: Joost van der Westhuizen (38)
Bryan Habana (38)
South Africa 0 – 4 British Isles
(30 July 1891)
South Africa 134 – 3 Uruguay
(11 June 2005)
England 53 – 3 South Africa
(23 November 2002)
Appearances 4 (First in 1995)
Best result Champions, 1995 and 2007
The Springboks play in green and gold jerseys, and their emblems are the Springbok and the Protea. The side have been playing international rugby since 1891, when a British Isles side toured the nation, playing South Africa in their first Test on 30 July. South Africa is currently coached by Peter de Villiers, after Jake White, who led the Boks to the 2007 World Cup title, announced his resignation effective at the end of 2007. The current captain is John Smit, who has played hooker for most of his career, although he has also been a prop, mainly in 2008 and 2009. Due to Smit being unavailable for the November 2010 Tests after surgery, lock Victor Matfield took Smit's place as captain for that tour.
John Smit, the most-capped captain ever, and Springbok player in most consecutive test matches
Where the Springbok name came from:
Paul Roos, Springbok captain, of the first South African touring rugby team to the British Isles in 1906
The 1906 Springboks teamPaul Roos was the captain of the first South African team to tour the British Isles and France. The team was largely dominated by players from Western Province, and took place over 1906–07. The team played 29 matches; including Tests against all four Home Nations. England managed a draw, but Scotland was the only one of the Home unions to gain a victory.
During this tour the nickname Springboks was first used. There is often confusion as to the springbok symbol being worn before the name was invented, but this may be down to the fact the tour manager, J.C. Carden, spoke of having no 'uniforms or blazers' with the icon, though he did not appear to mean the jerseys. It was reported in the Daily Mail on the 20 September 1906, seven days before the first match, that 'The team's colours will be myrtle green with gold collar... and will have embroidered in mouse-coloured silk on the left breast a Springbok'. Carden later stated:
“ ...No uniforms or blazers had been provided... That night I spoke to Roos and Carolin and pointed out that the witty London Press would invent some funny name for us if we did not invent one ourselves. We thereupon agreed to call ourselves Springboks and to tell Pressmen that we desired to be so named. I remember this distinctly, for Paul (Roos) reminded us that "Springbokken" was the correct plural. However the Daily Mail, after our first practice, called us the Springboks and the name stuck. I at once ordered the dark green, gold-edged blazers... ”
Newspaper reporters were to call the team "De Springbokken", and later The Daily Mail printed an article referring to the "Springboks". The team thereafter wore blazers with a springbok on the left breast pocket. Historically the term 'Springbok' was applied to any team or individual representing South Africa in international competition regardless of sporting discipline. This tradition was abandoned with the advent of South Africa's new democratic government in 1994. The trip helped heal wounds after the Boer War and instilled a sense of national pride among South Africans.
The South Africans crossed the channel to play an unofficial match against a 'France' team drawn from the two Parisian clubs: Stade Français and Racing Club de France. The official French team were in England at the time. The Springboks won 55–6 and scored 13 tries in the process.
The 1910 British Isles tour of South Africa was the first to include representatives from all four Home unions. The team performed moderately against the non-test parties, claiming victories in just over half their matches. The tourists won just one of their three Tests.
The Boks' second European tour took place in 1912–13. They beat the four Home nations to earn their first Grand Slam and also went on to defeat France.