Makazole Mapimpi was one the standout players for the Springboks at the Rugby World Cup in Japan. Photo: Peter Cziborra/Reuters
Makazole Mapimpi was one the standout players for the Springboks at the Rugby World Cup in Japan. Photo: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

PART 1: Top 50 post-isolation Springboks

By Lunga Biyela Time of article published Mar 30, 2020

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CAPE TOWN – The spread of the coronavirus has taken a lot from us. Sport is gone, we can’t go outside, and we have to watch how much of our favourite beverages we consume.

So, for the next week, we’re going to rank the 50 greatest players to don the green and gold and represent South Africa on the rugby field since readmission.

Over the course of the next five days, we’ll be revealing 10 players who we think deserve to be named among the 50 greatest Springboks since 1992, starting from 50.

There was absolutely no science in coming up with this list, just opinion, and you’re free to let us know whether we hit the nail on the head, or are wide off the mark. We understand everyone has a strong opinion on these things, so be gentle!

Here are the first 10 players who come in between 50 and 41.

50. Andre Vos (33 caps)

Whether he was playing for the Springboks, the Cats, Lions or Queensland Reds, the number eight from the Eastern Cape played with his heart on his sleeve and led from the front. Had he led the team during a more successful period, chances are he’d be remembered to this day. Instead, the underestimated Andre Vos, who captained the Boks on 16 occasions, has largely been forgotten by the country’s rugby followers. He makes the list at number 50.

49. Albert van den Berg (51 caps)

The gangly lock was a pretty useful player to have around the park. While his lineout work was second to none, it was his mobility that made him such a valuable player. Having Van den Berg on the park was like going into a game with four loose forwards. He was also a handy impact player during the Springboks’ victorious 2007 World Cup campaign.

48. Makazole Mapimpi (14 caps)

We all remember where we were when Makazole Mapimpi scored THAT try and proceeded to leave team-mate and close friend Lukhanyo Am hanging. The only reason Mapimpi features so low is because he’s only played 14 Tests. In those 14 Tests, his record has been impeccable. In his 14 Tests, Mapimpi has scored an impressive 14 tries for a 100% strike rate. If he keeps going at this rate, who knows how many he will end up with.

Makazole Mapimpi has etched himself into Springbok history after a stellar performance at the Rugby World Cup in Japan. Photo: BackpagePix

47. Corne Krige (39 caps)

When one thinks of Corne Krige, you remember Kamp Staaldraad and for knocking Andre Pretorious out during the infamous Twickehnam Test match in 2002. But he was much more than that. Krige was useful at the breakdown, and his lead-from-the-front attitude made him a special player. It’s just a pity that his captaincy is associated with some of the lowest moments of Springbok rugby over the last 20-plus years.

46. Kobus Wiese (13 Tests)

The big man only played 13 times for the Springboks, but he was an important member of the 1995 World Cup-winning squad. Wiese was such a hard, no-nonsense player that former Welsh lock Derwyn Jones is probably still trying to find his bearings after being knocked unconscious by the then Transvaal man.

Kobus Wiese didn't have a long Springbok career but he played an important role in the team in their win in 1995. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

45. Francois Louw (76 caps)

Were it not for Siya Kolisi’s brilliant leadership, there’s no doubt that Francois Louw would have been the Springboks’ first-choice openside flanker during last year’s Rugby World Cup. His work at the breakdown was second to none, and he was the closest thing South African rugby had to All Blacks legend Richie McCaw for the longest time. Had he played his rugby in South Africa, it’s very possible he would have played well over 100 games in the green and gold.

Flo is always one of the most hard working players in the Springbok team. Photo: Reuters/Matthew Childs

44. Chester Williams (27 caps)

The trailblazing winger was an integral part of the Springboks Rugby World Cup winning squad back in 1995. Williams’ four tries in the quarter-finals against Western Samoa will always be remembered, and it’s very sad he wasn’t around to see Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe be central to the Siya Kolisi-led Springboks’ World Cup campaign.

Chester Williams will always be remembered as a stalwart of Springbok rugby.

43. Joel Stransky (22 caps)

The man who kicked the Springboks to victory in 1995 makes it in at number 43. He’s better known these days as one of South Africa’s most well-known commentators, but the Skonk Nicholson-coached Stransky was an important cog to Kitch Christie’s backline.

42. Pieter Rossouw (43 caps)

Slaptjips running down the touchline in full flight was one of the most beautiful things to watch in the late 90s and early 2000s. His 21 tries in 43 Tests is still an impressive feat, even by today’s standards. He was on the wing for the Springboks when they won their first-ever Tri Nations in 1998, and he went also feature in the 1999 World Cup, where Nick Mallett’s men finished third ahead of the All Blacks.

41. Bob Skinstad (42 caps)

Was it not for those knee injuries, it’s likely that we’d be remembering Bobby Skinstad, as he was known in the late 90s, as one of the greatest number 8s to ever play the game. He was truly ahead of his time. Mallett took a lot of flack for dropping skipper Gary Teichman ahead of the 1999 World Cup. Teichman’s leadership qualities were second to none, but his ability on the field was nowhere near that of Skinstad’s. He was dangerous around the ruck and at the back of the scrum, and one can only wonder what he would have achieved had his career not been curtailed by injuries.

* Watch out for No 40 to 31 on Tuesday.

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@KingBiyela 

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