Springboks: South African newspaper selects their 30 greatest players of the past 40 years

The 30 greatest Springboks of the past 40 years have been selected, with 27 Rugby World Cup winners making the cut. 

South African Sunday newspaper the Rapport counted down the greatest players to have donned the Green and Gold over the last 40 years, with an esteemed panel making the selections.

Ex-Springbok coaches Jake White, Nick Mallett, Peter de Villiers and Carel du Plessis were joined on the panel by current coaches Deon Davids and Mzwandile Stick. Former captains Wynand Claasen and Theuns Stofberg were also involved, along with the Rapport writers.

All three Rugby World Cup-winning captains made the final 30, with the World Cup class of 2007 providing the most entries.

1995 World Cup winners

Just two pre-professionalism era Springboks made the top 30 in former fly-half, captain Naas Botha, and star centre Danie Gerber.

Outside the pair, flanker Andre Venter was the only player who did not lift the Rugby World Cup trophy during his career.

The list includes seven World Cup winners from 1995, with captain Francois Pienaar coming in at number 28.

He is joined on the list by the late Chester Williams and Ruben Kruger. Lock turned number eight during the 1995 tournament; Mark Andrews just missed out on the top 20. Beloved full-back Andre Joubert did crack the top 15 coming in at number 14.

The final two winners from 1995 feature in the top 10 with prop Os du Randt, who also won the 2007 World Cup, at number four and scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen at number two.

2007 Rugby World Cup winners

As mentioned above, Du Randt came in fourth place and is joined by 12 teammates who lifted the William Webb Ellis Cup in 2007.

Hooker Bismarck du Plessis came in at 29th place, with centre Jaque Fourie at 26.

Blindside flanker Juan Smith just made the top 20, claiming 20th place, with Percy Montgomery, Frans Steyn and Jean de Villiers featuring in the teens.

The Springboks team of the late 2000s were renowned for their powerful forward pack, and the top 10 reflects their dominance as captain John Smit is joined by Schalk Burger, Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield, with the quartet all winning the World Cup and the 2009 Lions Series.

2007 World Player of the Year Bryan Habana took third place, with Fourie du Preez taking top honours on the list.

2019 Rugby World Cup winners

Like Du Randt, Frans Steyn won the World Cup twice and is joined in the top 30 by eight of his teammates that won the tournament in 2019.

High-flying winger Cheslin Kolbe was the last name on the list, just three places below hooker Malcolm Marx. Centre Lukhanyo Am also features in the 20s, as does captain Siya Kolisi.

Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Tendai Mtawarira feature in the teens along with Steyn.

Lock Eben Etzebeth is the only 2019 World Cup winner that made the top 10.

Rapport’s Bok Top 30

1 Fourie du Preez
2 Joost van der Westhuizen
3 Bryan Habana
4 Os du Randt
5 Victor Matfield
6 Bakkies Botha
7 Schalk Burger
8 John Smit
9 Eben Etzebeth
10 Danie Gerber
11 Tendai Mtawarira
12 Pieter-Steph du Toit
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13 Andre Venter
14 Andre Joubert
15 Jean de Villiers
16 Frans Steyn
17 Duane Vermeulen
18 Percy Montgomery
19 Naas Botha
20 Juan Smith
21 Mark Andrews
22 Ruben Kruger
23 Siya Kolisi
24 Chester Williams
25 Lukhanyo Am
26 Jaque Fourie
27 Malcolm Marx
28 Francois Pienaar
29 Bismarck du Plessis
30 Cheslin Kolbe

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