Springboks

1995, 2007, 2019: An all-time Springbok 'World Cup Final XV'

Percy Montgomery, Os du Randt and John Smit celebrate winning the 2007 Rugby World Cup final (Gallo Images)
Percy Montgomery, Os du Randt and John Smit celebrate winning the 2007 Rugby World Cup final (Gallo Images)

The Springboks have played in three Rugby World Cup finals - in 1995, 2007 and 2019 - and were victorious on all three occasions.

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The 15-12 extra time win over New Zealand at Ellis Park in 1995 will go down as one of the iconic moments in the country's sporting history, but there was more joy to follow in subsequent years when the Boks beat England 15-6 in Paris in 2007 before defeating the same foes 32-12 in Yokohama in 2019.

With sport currently in lockdown due to the coronavirus, Sport24 felt it fit to look back at the three victorious outfits by picking a Springbok 'World Cup Final XV' from the three finals.

The team features only those players who started in the respective finals, while the bench comprises a mixture of starters and substitutes.

Perhaps to the surprise of some, I couldn't find too many spots for the heroes of 1995, with Jake White's 2007 Boks dominating the starting XV.

Important to note: The team was NOT picked on purely one-off performances in the respective World Cup finals, but a general overview of the players' Springbok careers.

Do you agree with the team selected? Let us know your thoughts at mysport@sport24.co.za

'Super Springbok World Cup Final XV':

15 - Percy Montgomery (2007)

After picking "Monty" in my greatest Springbok XV of the professional era a few weeks ago, I cannot now change my mind.

The 102-Test veteran kicked 12 of South Africa’s points in the 2007 win at the Stade de France and was a standout in the tournament with his prestigious boot. In the days when rugby players still kicked 'torpedoes' (kicking a ball with a spiral, giving it considerably more distance), there was no better exponent of this than Montgomery.

NEXT BEST: Andre Joubert (1995), Willie le Roux (2019)

14 - JP Pietersen (2007)

Such a tough call, but the Sharks flyer is the best all-round right-wing. The 70-Test winger was deceptively quick, was solid under the high ball, a good defender and a decent tactical kicker.

NEXT BEST: Cheslin Kolbe (2019), James Small (1995)

13 - Jaque Fourie (2007)

Fourie is one of the best centres ever produced by South Africa. His organisation on defence and eye for a gap made him one of the leading outside centres in world rugby.

NEXT BEST: Japie Mulder (1995), Lukhanyo Am (2019)

12. Hennie le Roux (1995)

A versatile player who could also play flyhalf, Le Roux was immensely skilful, had a prodigious boot and was a remarkable defender for his size - 1.75m and 80kg.

NEXT BEST: Frans Steyn (2007), Damian de Allende (2019)

11. Bryan Habana (2007)

A Springbok legend and easy choice. A try-scoring machine with 67 dot-downs in 124 Tests.

NEXT BEST: Chester Williams (1995), Makazole Mapimpi (2019)

10. Handre Pollard (2019)

Pollard is for me the most complete Springbok flyhalf of the three options. His calm demeanour was vital in last year's World Cup win. Aside from a sound kicking game, Pollard's physical presence and ability to attack the gainline set him apart from other contenders.

NEXT BEST: Joel Stransky (1995), Butch James (2007)

9. Fourie du Preez (2007)

You have to be pretty darn good to eclipse the great-late Joost van der Westhuizen, but Du Preez's tactical genius gives him the nod at scrumhalf. Always calm under pressure, Du Preez was vital to the Springbok cause for over a decade. The sign of a good player is always one who appears to have a lot of time under pressure and Du Preez was exactly that.

NEXT BEST: Joost van der Westhuizen (1995), Faf de Klerk (2019)

8. Duane Vermeulen (2019)

A hard-as-nails eighthman who should always be one of the first names on a coach's team-sheet. He was a key cog in the 2019 World Cup triumph and will go down as an all-time great.

NEXT BEST: Danie Rossouw (2007), Mark Andrews (normally a lock, was played out of position in the 1995 final)

7. Pieter-Steph du Toit (2019)

Without doubt the best rugby player on the planet in 2019 and fully deserved his World Rugby Player of the Year accolade. Du Toit's versatility - he can also slot in at lock - makes him a certain starter.

NEXT BEST: Ruben Kruger (1995), Juan Smith (2007)

6. Schalk Burger (2007)

A Springbok legend of 86 Tests and one of the hard men who put his body on the line for province and country.

NEXT BEST: Francois Pienaar (1995), Siya Kolisi (2019)

5. Victor Matfield (2007)

A great leader and a genius at lineout time. He will go down as an all-time great and it's incomprehensible to omit a player with the record number of Springbok caps - 127.

NEXT BEST: Hannes Strydom (1995), Lood de Jager (2019)

4. Eben Etzebeth (2019)

The burly lock's physicality is right up there with his predecessor Bakkies Botha, but the former is a more mobile and skilful player and therefore gets a starting spot.

NEXT BEST: Bakkies Botha (2007), Kobus Wiese (1995)

3. Balie Swart (1995)

He just pips Frans Malherbe for the starting tighthead position. One of the best technical scrummagers the game has seen.

NEXT BEST: Frans Malherbe (2019), CJ van der Linde (2007)

2. John Smit (2007) - captain

Smit's leadership and scrum prowess saw him keep Bismarck du Plessis out of the starting XV in 2007. The 111-Test veteran will also lead this team.

NEXT BEST: Bongi Mbonambi (2019), Chris Rossouw (1995)

1. Os du Randt (1995 and 2007)

A legendary 80-Test loosehead prop and one of only two Springboks to play in two World Cup finals.

NEXT BEST: Tendai Mtawarira (2019)

Substitutes:

16 - Bismarck du Plessis (2007)

He would have been my starting hooker (as was the case in my "greatest Springbok XV"), but no team would mind his presence on the bench. Just edged Malcolm Marx (2019) and the perfect man to bring on with the game on a knife’s edge.

17 - Tendai Mtawarira (2019)

No-one better for loosehead cover than "Beast" with 117 Test caps.

18 - Frans Malherbe (2019)

I picked Malherbe ahead of Swart on the bench in my "greatest Springbok XV", but for this bench role I feel the powerful 2019 winner would be a more powerful impact prop.

19 - Bakkies Botha (2007)

Would be a like-for-like replacement for Etzebeth.

20 - Ruben Kruger (1995)

A hard as nails flanker but Kruger had a great all-round game with a terrific skillset. He was dubbed the "silent assassin" as he did his talking on the field. His life was tragically cut short when he died of brain cancer, aged 39 in 2010.

21 - Joost van der Westhuizen (1995)

The late former scrumhalf was world-class. He boasted a terrific pass, immense speed and was a fearless defender. Started 78 of his 89 Tests but would be a valuable "supersub".

22 - Frans Steyn (2007 and 2019)

The other Springbok to play in two World Cup finals. Could easily have started but his prodigious boot and versatility make him the ideal backline replacement.

23 - Cheslin Kolbe (2019)

A terrific finisher with pace to burn, one of only two Springbok try-scorers in World Cup finals, 1.7m pocket rocket also punches well above his weight on the defensive front.

SPRINGBOK WORLD CUP FINAL LINE-UPS

1995

15 Andre Joubert, 14 James Small, 13 Japie Mulder, 12 Hennie le Roux, 11 Chester Williams, 10 Joel Stransky, 9 Joost van der Westhuizen, 8 Mark Andrews, 7 Ruben Kruger, 6 Francois Pienaar (captain), 5 Hannes Strydom, 4 Kobus Wiese, 3 Balie Swart, 2 Chris Rossouw, 1 Os du Randt

Substitutes: 16 Naka Drotske, 17 Brendan Venter, 18 Rudolf Straeuli, 19 Johan Roux, 20 Garry Pagel, 21 Gavin Johnson

2007

15 Percy Montgomery, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Butch James, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Danie Rossouw, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Os du Randt

Substitutes: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Johann Muller, 19 Wikus van Heerden, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Andre Pretorius, 22 Wynand Olivier

2019

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Francois Louw, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn

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