How Siya Kolisi’s Debut As Springbok Captain Ranks Against Former Team Leaders

How does Kolisi's winning start compare to those who have worn the armband before?

Kirsten Curtis |

This weekend we saw our beloved Springboks triumph over England in the Castle Lager Incoming Series after an impressive comeback to make a final score of 42-39 at Ellis Park. The test victory was also a proud moment for new Bok captain Siya Kolisi, as it was his first game wearing the armband. It’s not a mystery that he’s a great leader on the pitch, he’s also a great dad, but how does the 61st Springbok skipper’s winning start compare to others who have led the side before him? Here are more Springbok captain debuts.

Related: Build Power Like Springbok Captain Siya Kolisi

Jean De Villiers – Captain No. 54

Same day of the year, same opponent, same result.

On 9 June 2012, exactly six years before Kolisi led his team onto the field, 31-year-old Jean de Villiers played his first game as Springbok captain. Their opponents? None other than England. De Villiers scored a try in the 22-17 win. The South Africans won two out of the three test matches, and drew the third.  He would go on to captain the national team 37 more times, before retiring at the age of 34.

Related: “I Picked Up Weight When My Rugby Career Ended” – Here’s How I Shed 20Kgs

John Smit – Captain No. 51

John Smit was named Springbok captain back in 2003 and led the boys in green and gold to win two Tri Nations trophies (2004, 2009) and the 2007 Rugby World Cup. The 2003 World Cup started well for the Springboks with a 72-6 victory over Uruguay but ended when we were knocked out the quarter-finals by New Zealand. England went on to win that tournament. He retired in 2011 as the most capped Springbok of all time with 111 Test caps, as well as the most capped international captain, wearing the armband 83 times (out of 111 appearances). He was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2011.

Eben Etzebeth – Captain No. 59

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During the final match of the 2017 Castle Lager Incoming Series against France, Eben Etzebeth was given the captain’s armband after skipper Warren Whiteley was subbed off with a groin injury. The Boks won that game 58-12,  claiming victory for all three matches in the test series. Etzebeth would go on to captain the national team for the rest of 2017, with Kolisi as vice-captain.

Related: This Life Coach Used Rugby To Beat Depression

Rassie Erasmus – Captain No. 47

The current Springbok coach picked Siya Kolisi and Pieter Steph du Toit  to captain the national side, nearly a decade after doing so himself. Erasmus was tasked with leading the Boks into battle against Australia in the 1999 Tri-Nations semi-final, a match which they lost 27-21. The Wallabies went on to win that competition. This was Erasmus’ only match as Springbok captain.

The Springboks are scheduled to play their next test match against England on Saturday 16 June at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein and the final test will be played on the 23 June at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town.

Make sure you follow the Springboks on social media for all the match and team updates.

Facebook: @springboks

Twitter: @springboks

Related: Here’s How To Train Exactly Like A Super Rugby Athlete On Each Day Of The Week


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