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Golden Springbok Moments – RWC 2011

17  September 2019, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld


The Springboks have enjoyed many magical moments on the biggest stage of them all since they shook up the world in their triumphant maiden appearance in the global showpiece in 1995, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

As excitement continues to build for the 2019 Rugby World Cup that kicks off in Japan on September 20, we take a trip down memory lane in a six-part series in which we highlight the Springboks’ most memorable World Cup moments.

The 2011 World Cup, hosted by New Zealand, was one of character, milestones and misfortune for the Springboks. Coached by Peter de Villiers and led once more by hooker John Smit, the defending champions survived a scare from Wales in their tournament opener before going on to top Pool D.

Ultimately, the seventh edition of the global showpiece is largely remembered by South African supporters for the notorious nature of the Springboks’ 11-9 quarterfinal defeat to the Wallabies in Wellington. New Zealand referee Bryce Lawrence became public enemy number one in South Africa and was widely criticized for his handling of the key clash, which brought a premature end to the Springboks’ second reign as world champions.

The Springboks kicked off the defence of their crown with a tough test against Wales in Wellington. In a tightly-contested clash, seen as the pool decider, Frans Steyn – playing at fullback – scored the opening try. The Springboks remained in control until the 54th minute when Toby Faletau crashed over for a converted try to give Wales a 16-10 lead.

After a tense 10-minute period, the Springboks worked their way into the Welsh 22 where the forwards hit the ball up twice. Scrumhalf Fourie du Preez then summed up the situation, picked up from the ruck, drew pillar defender Paul James and popped a short pass to a flying Francois Hougaard (who had come on for Bryan Habana minutes earlier) who cantered over untouched for what proved to be the match-winning seven-pointer.

What was a nightmare for Namibia was a record-breaking night for the Springboks. The pool match between the African countries in Auckland saw the Springboks run in 12 tries en route to an 87-0 thrashing. One of those tries had special significance – it came in the 22nd minute when Habana crossed the whitewash for the 39th time in his Test career to become South Africa’s all-time leading try-scorer.

The legendary wing stormed home from 40 metres out to break a 15-month drought and finally overtake the great Joost van der Westhuizen as the Springboks’ most prolific try-scorer. The match also saw skipper Smit earn his 109th Test cap to surpass fellow icon Victor Matfield as the most-capped Springbok of all-time.


Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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