Cape Town - History will be made later this year when an elite society of exceptional athletes are brought together for the very first time.
They will be known as the Rugby Centurions.
Only players who have had the distinction of representing their country in 100 or more Tests are eligible to become a Centurion and they will be brought together in order to give back to the game that shaped their lives.
The inaugural launch of this unique, world-first initiative will be held at the Hilton Metropole Hotel in London on November 23, 2017.
Rugby Centurions is the toughest membership in the world to crack, with only three in every 1 000 players ever reaching the prestigious 100-Test milestone.
To date, 49 players have represented their countries in 100 Tests - or more.
The concept behind Rugby Centurions is to unite these champion athletes, celebrating their contribution to the sport and allowing them to become involved in coordinated efforts through the Centurion Foundation in order to promote rugby at grassroots level and support promising new talent on the rugby field.
It’s all about the game - and through special Rugby Centurion projects, the sport will continue to attract financial investment and grow and flourish around the world. Other planned projects include erecting plaques of honour for each Rugby Centurion, creating art collections and illustrated books that celebrate the history and greatest rugby moments of each of these unique players, producing a documentary, and even creating a clothing line.
As a managing custodian of the Centurion Foundation, and former Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok captain, John Smit, is excited about what Rugby Centurions can achieve.
“This initiative honours the warriors of the game who have dedicated their all to the sport - while at the same time creating a platform that will get even more people excited about rugby and bring fresh faces onto the field and into the stadiums.”
Smit, who played 111 Tests, elaborated: “Rugby Centurions will use rugby as a tool to assist wherever needed - whether it be uplifting vulnerable communities around the world or taking the game to unknown territories. These Centurions want to give back wherever they can and through this ground breaking association they can do just that.”
Other Springboks who have played 100 or more Tests are Percy Montgomery (102 Tests), Jean de Villiers (109), Bryan Habana (124) and Victor Matfield (127).