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Legendary Springbok Rugby World Cup Performances

The Rugby World Cup has been the stage on which the Springboks have recorded transcendent triumphs and produced legendary heroics, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

Fourie du Preez.

The Rugby World Cup has been the stage on which the Springboks have recorded transcendent triumphs and produced legendary heroics, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld as he highlights five iconic individual performances by greats in the green and gold.

A Star Is Born

Not named in the original squad for the 1995 World Cup on home soil, Chester Williams was called up after Pieter Hendriks had been red-carded and subsequently suspended for the remainder of the tournament for his role in the infamous Battle of Boet Erasmus.

Williams seized the opportunity and scored four tries on debut in the 42-14 quarterfinal win over Samoa at Ellis Park. The flyer instantly became a national hero and as the only black player in the team, he was one of the key role-players in uniting the nation.   

Jouba’s Unbreakable Will

Revered as “The Rolls-Royce of Fullbacks” because of his silky smooth attacking excellence and scintillating speed, Joubert showed he had the toughness to match as he famously played the 1995 semi-final and final with a broken hand.

Joubert sustained what should have been and would be a tournament-ending injury today during the aforementioned quarterfinal win over Samoa. He underwent surgery that evening, however, as a key player, the passionate and determined Joubert refused to be sidelined.

Instead, he had a series of sessions in a decompression chamber and had a special rubber glove flown in from Ireland, which he wore as he retained his place in the No 15 jersey.

Joubert was nothing short of heroic as he was mercilessly bombarded with up-and-unders by the French in the rain-soaked semi-final at Kings Park and manned the last line of defence against the All Blacks in the decider.

Stransky Becomes Immortal

While it was a 100-minute team effort that saw the underdog Springboks edge the All Blacks 15-12 in the epic final at Ellis Park in 1995, Joel Stransky had nerves of steel as he scored all of the hosts’ points.

The Springbok flyhalf was unbelievably composed throughout the tense encounter, slotting three penalties to take the game into extra time and a fourth to level the scores again heading into the final half of extra time.

Had the score stayed 12-all, the All Blacks would’ve been crowned champions due to their superior disciplinary record in the competition. Fortunately for South Africa as a country, Stransky had one final arrow in his quiver.

Cancelling a planned blindside move from a scrum just outside of the All Blacks’ 22, Stransky fell back into the pocket and slotted a majestic drop in what will forever be the greatest highlight in South African rugby history.

The Springboks held on to claim the unlikeliest and most thrilling of victories in World Cup history and with that, a nation was united. 

De Beer’s Drop Goal Masterclass

In one of the most remarkable individual performances in World Cup history, Jannie de Beer slotted a record five drop goals to sink England in their quarterfinal showdown at the Stade de France in 1999.

After a tense first half, it was anyone’s game as the sides returned for the second half with the Springboks leading 16-12.   Then came De Beer’s heroics, the likes of which had never been seen before (no one had ever kicked more than three drop goals in a single game) or since.

A stand-in for injured first-choice Henry Honiball, the Free Stater unleashed an aerial assault on a stunned England with military precision. De Beer put on a 31-minute masterclass in the art of drop-goals as he booted the English out of the World Cup, and they weren’t gimmes either.

He didn’t miss a single kick at goal on that perfect day in Paris, adding five penalties and two conversions to his five drop-goals as he racked up a then-Springbok record 34-point haul in the 44-21 win.

Du Preez’s Magnum Opus

Fourie du Preez’s masterclass in the Springboks’ record 36-0 rout of England in their virtual Pool A decider at the Stade de France in 2007 was the best scrumhalf showing in World Cup history and one of the best of all-time.

The virtuoso’s vision, decision-making and game management – all the qualities that saw him being widely regarded as the world’s best scrumhalf at the time – were on display as he orchestrated England’s annihilation.

He created all three of the Springboks’ tries and bossed the game as a true general. Making it all the more impressive was the fact that Du Preez had had very little game time heading into the tournament having missed most of the Super Rugby season through injury.

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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