The Ultimate Springbok World Cup Final XV: Legendary Os completes our team
AS part of The Glory of '95 series, three of IOL Sport's rugby writers decided to pick their ultimate Springbok World Cup Final XV. Today we complete our team with the loosehead prop.
Candidates: Os du Randt (1995, 2007), Tendai Mtawarira (2019)
Jacques van der Westhuyzen
Thankfully there are only two candidates here, and thankfully, this is the final selection of this series. It has been such a tough task having to pick one man from (mainly) three candidates, and in this last pick, it’s another toughie.
Os du Randt was a rookie of just 22 years of age in 1995; picked by coach Kitch Christie out of the “reserves” at the Free State, a player who had little experience and hardly made any kind of impact on the local scene. Christie though rated him and backed him, and Du Randt delivered on the biggest stage of all.
Twelve years later he was again at it, this time after Jake White had persuaded him to “play on” and he became a World Cup winner for a second time. Du Randt is one of just 21 players who has bagged two World Cup winners’ medals. He is, and will alway be, a Bok legend.
The other candidate is another legend; a player who started out as a loose-forward after leaving his home country, Zimbabwe, to fulfil his rugby dream and what a story he wrote. Tendai Mtawarira became one of this country’s all-time great props and all-round respected, feared and revered players, a fan-favourite, and he became a deserving World Cup winner last year after helping the Boks to glory in Japan.
Both players fulfilled their primary role - that of scrumming - with distinction, regularly getting the better of their direct opponent. And both were fairly mobile players, who got around the field, as ball-carriers and defenders.
It’s such a hard choice to have to make. I know Du Randt won the World Cup twice, but I’m going with the Beast for this pick. Mtawarira was an absolute powerhouse player for the Boks for 12 years and 117 Tests, and over the course of that career not too many tightheads got the better of him. In fact, he dominated many big-name stars he came up against; a real world star.
Jacques’ choice: Tendai Mtawarira
I would think that along with Bryan Habana and Victor Matfield, this is another selection that most pundits would make.
Jacobus Petrus ‘Os’ du Randt hit the Rugby World Cup scene with a bang as a fresh-faced youngster in 1995, and left it in 2007 as the ultimate loosehead prop – and arguably the best that there’s ever been in history.
Du Randt was a rampaging No 1 that had forced his way into Kitch Christie’s 1995 squad with his mix of power in the scrums, speed and ferocity as a ball-carrier and a deadly defender.
He also cleared out rucks with relish, and his agility meant that he often found himself competing for turnovers at the breakdowns as well.
One memorable moment from the final against the All Blacks was his assist on taking down Jonah Lomu – Joost van der Westhuizen stood up bravely to take on the No 11 head-on, and Du Randt went over the top to flatten him.
A massive scrum around the 20th minute saw him drill Olo Brown in a five-metre scrum that could very easily have resulted in a penalty try, and Du Randt won his one-on-one duel on the day.
He enhanced his reputation even further by the time the 1999 World Cup came along, but a number of knee and other injuries resulted in him retiring at the end of 2000.
Du Randt made a remarkable comeback to the Bok side in 2004, and lasted until the 2007 decider, where he played the full 80 minutes in his 80th Test match against England in Paris to finish his career in style at the age of 35.
Ashfak's choice: Os du Randt
Os versus The Beast — this one is as simple (but complicated) as that!
At first glance this choice looked reasonably clear-cut in that Os played in two World Cup finals (’95 and 2007) but if you take into account Mtawarira’s magnificent performance in last year’s final in Japan, then there is merit for a healthy debate.
It was Mtawarira’s last appearance in a Springbok jersey (his 116th cap) and in my opinion the 34-year-old saved his best for last. After the final whistle, John Smit was interviewing The Beast and put his arm around him and said: “Beastie, I have always said that when you are in the mood, nobody can live with you.” England tighthead Dan Cole certainly couldn’t, plus Mtawarira was aggressively industrious all over the park.
A good as The Beast was in the 32-12 defeat of England, Os du Randt was one of the best looseheads to ever play the game and quite rightly he was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame last year.
It is some feat to retire from the game as Os did for three years (2000-2003) and then make a comeback and win another World Cup gold medal (he was 35 in 2007 in the Paris final).
So as difficult as it is to leave out a South African legend in Tendai Mtawariria, I am doffing my cap in the direction of Os.
Mike’s choice: Os du Randt
Os de Randt completes our ultimate Bok team!
Ultimate Springbok World Cup Final XV: 15 Percy Montgomery, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Hennie le Roux. 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Joost van der Westhuizen, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Victor Marfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 John Smit, 1 Os du Randt.