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John Smit

Who will captain the Boks to the RWC?

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With the recent announcement of the contracted Springbok group, focus is slowly starting to shift to the international test season with one burning question…

Sharks confirm Smit’s appointment as CEO

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The Sharks have confirmed the appointment of John Smit as CEO of the union.

Smit new Sharks CEO?

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Springbok rugby star John Smit is poised to make a spectacular return to the Shark Tank as the new chief executive of the Sharks, replacing veteran administrator Brian van Zyl.

Barney’s Army – get your tickets now for Smit testimonial match

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Tickets are now on sale at The Sharks ticket office at Mr Price KINGS PARK or online via Computicket for the special rugby clash taking place on Friday, June 22 at The Sharks home ground featuring John Smit’s Barneys Army against his former team The Sharks.

JOHN SMIT INTERVIEW: SARACENS’ NEW STAMPEDING SPRINGBOK TALKS TO SPORT360°

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EXCLUSIVE: John Smit ended his international rugby career as the most capped South African ever, having played 111 times for the Springboks, 83 of those as captain – itself a world-record feat.

Mar 15, 2012 1 comments 0

New colours: Smit now plays for Aviva Premiership side Saracens in England.

New colours: Smit now plays for Aviva Premiership side Saracens in England.
Despite seeing his place in the side come under almost constant scrutiny once Jake White first handed him the responsibility of leading his country on a permanent basis in 2004, the hooker was an unparalleled success. Smit led the Springboks to two Tri-Nations titles, a home series win over the British & Irish Lions in 2009 and of course their second World Cup triumph after a close-fought 15-6 win over England in Paris on October 20, 2007.

The 33-year-old was well aware during his playing days that he wasn’t every South African’s first choice to lead the Green and Golds at the highest level, not that it tempered his enjoyment of the role. “My position was questioned since the day I was made captain,” Smit revealed to Sport360° during a visit to the capital with his club team-mates hosted by Abu Dhabi Saracens. “It’s just part and parcel of what you want to do, if you want to climb to the top of the tree you’ve got to be aware that you might fall off at some stage.”

The hooker from Pietersburg certainly made it all the way to the top branch of world rugby. Aside from his feats with the Springboks, Smit played 12 seasons in Super Rugby for the Sharks, either side of a single season in France with Clermont Auvergne after lifting the World Cup. By the time he left again after last year’s tournament in New Zealand, this time to London and Saracens, he had pulled on his home state’s jersey 100 times, a record for the Durban-based franchise.

Uniting a nation

While he accepts “winning helps”, the proudest achievement during his time as Springboks captain was not lifting the World Cup, or even leading his country to six victories over heated rivals, New Zealand. No, it is something a lot more profound than anything that happened merely within the confines of the rugby field. “I think the thing that I’m most proud of in my time as captain is probably the effect the Springbok team has, or hadn’t had in the past and now has, over the people of South Africa,” Smit explains, referring to the way in which the team, once a symbol of Apartheid oppression has been adopted by the new Rainbow Nation.

“When I started the Springboks were supported strongly by a certain minority group of people in South Africa and when I finished, literally people were walking the streets of every colour wearing the green and gold and referring to players that I’d played with by their first names. For me, that was the thing in the last eight years that the Springboks have had the most effect on.”

The country has come a long way since President Nelson Mandela famously handed the Webb Ellis Cup to Francois Pienaar at Ellis Park in 1995. Peter de Villiers became the first non-white coach of the Springboks when he took the reins in January 2008, and while his coaching methods and outspoken nature drew criticism, according to Smit he made the national team accessible to a wider audience in their homeland.

“Now the majority of the country believe the Springboks represent them whereas in the past the Springboks were regarded as an Apartheid icon,” Smit continued. “Madiba (Mandela) had a massive part in changing that and getting the ball rolling and it was then up to the players and the teams and the coaches. Peter de Villiers, probably his biggest contribution to South African rugby was the fact that he made us touchable to the people and approachable, and people really enjoyed us.

“The most amazing moment I suppose in the last few years, there were two; arriving back after winning the World Cup in 2007 with thousands of people not being able to get into the airport and going on a bus tour for three days; and then leaving for 2011’s World Cup where we could barely get out of the country for the thousands of people lining the streets and trying to say goodbye.”

No regrets

Smit made his own farewell to the Green and Gold jersey in New Zealand, as the Springboks lost 11-9 to Australia in the quarter-finals despite producing their best display of the whole tournament. Again, the hooker feels little animosity towards the circumstances that brought the curtain down on his record-breaking international career. The 33-year-old adds: “When you play internationally and you play from World Cup to World Cup, you are either going to go out in a blaze of glory or you are going to go out in a quarter-final or semi-final. So, it is a risk you take in a World Cup year and it’s not one that I wouldn’t have taken again, given the chance.

“Disappointing to lose out in a quarter-final but we went there with a good team that had the potential to win, played well, got better and better as the tournament worked out and then lost in an epic Test match against a good team, so I can’t cry too much about it. Our chances were there for us to take, we didn’t take them and we didn’t win the World Cup, that’s our fault and not anyone else’s.”

Postponing retirement

Smit had originally planned to walk away from all forms of rugby after the quadrennial tournament, but a conversation with his wife prompted him to give it one last go in the English Premiership with Saracens. He admits his transition to the northern hemisphere was made easier by the fact he was joining a club that boasted 12 players from South Africa, although good friend Deon Carstens has since returned to their homeland.

“The Premiership’s a tough tournament because you can lose to pretty much everyone who plays in it,” he says. “Everyone makes this massive issue about north versus south but the guys all pick up the same weights, they all eat the same food and they all want to smash each other in the same manner.”

With Saracens four points behind Premiership leaders Harlequins and well on course to make the end of season playoffs, Smit could well be smashing up opponents for a while yet.

Favourite holiday destination? Home (Durban) – I’m never there!

Car collection? I’m an American fan, so I’ve got a ’67 Fastback and a ’65 convertible, both Mustangs – Mustangs are my game.

Favourite sport other than rugby? Tennis

Favourite sportsperson? It’s changed but it’s always been a tennis player. People think I’m crazy but I used to be a massive Ivan Lendl fan when I was growing up because that was my dream. Then Pete Sampras, Stefan Edberg, so it’s always been tennis for me.

Best player you ever played with? That’s a difficult question… I’d probably say Victor Matfield because I’ve played with him for so long and achieved quite a bit with him.

Toughest opponent? As a team, there’s only really one Test match that counts in a year and that’s against the All Blacks but as an individual I had the privilege of playing against Ireland’s Keith Wood, who was a guy I enjoyed playing against because he was tough.

* John Smit was talking to Sport360°’s Martyn Thomas at the British School Al Khubairat as part a Q&A and coaching clinic ogranised by Abu Dhavbi Saracens.

All-star cast for Smit’s SA farewell

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A world team loaded with several Springboks will line up against the Sharks later this year for John Smit‘s farewell match.

‘Schalk must skipper Boks’ – Smit

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The leader of the Stormers, Schalk Burger, is the right man to take over the captaincy of the Springboks.

Smit’s final chapter starts now

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A year ago, John Smit was contemplating his future, post-World Cup and it did not involve rugby. Now, the 2007 World Cup-winning Springbok captain is set to pen the final chapter in his stellar rugby career and it involves the small matter of playing for English champions Saracens.

Thu, 27 Oct 2011 13:17


The next chapter…

The 111-cap veteran landed in London with his family on Tuesday to start a two-year contract at Saracens and we found the former Sharks stalwart in high spirits when he was unveiled to the English media the following day.

“Obviously I know a few of the boys here from South Africa, but I haven’t even met all the guys yet… that’ll have to wait until Thursday’s first training sessions,” he replied when asked about his new surroundings.

“It was a really easy trip over though,” he added. “I was dreading the flight with two kids, but they slept virtually the whole way and we landed – with all our bags – and were whisked off with minimal fuss to start our new chapter at Saracens.

“It’s been a busy day or two… but it could have been a lot more hectic!”

Whilst Smit’s seamless arrival is certainly a good omen for life at Saracens, he is well aware – as one would expect – just what lies ahead for him, his wife and their children over the next two seasons.

“This is a great opportunity for me… and for my family,” he told this website.

“A year ago I was ready to hang up my boots for good after the World Cup. I mean the last six or seven years have virtually been a matter of life or death for me in terms of results – as captain of the Sharks and the Springboks… I had a big responsibility.

“My previous stint abroad [at Clermont in France in the 2007/08 season] was an invaluable experience – for me and my family. Now, it’s a bit different. For starters, my kids are at an age where they will remember this experience and will be richer for it as they grow up.

“However, for me, selfishly, it’s another chance to play some rugby – but to worry about that only. I have a different job description [here] and I intend on enjoying myself and just contributing as much as I can but in a different way.”

So, what then is his exact job description at Saracens… and for how long?

“Well, I signed for two years but right now I’m not thinking beyond the next month,” he joked.

“Saracens’ vision is to have two good players in every position – I’m joining the club as a hooker. A guy like [fellow South African hooker] Schalk Brits has played over 60 matches in his two years here, so I’ll hopefully be able to help as they look to rotate their players during [what is] a long season.

“I’d love to play for as long as possible… but, like I said, I’m here for at least two years, so I’ll just take things as it comes.

“Obviously, first and foremost I’d like to contribute as much as a player, but I’m also here to pass on as much experience as possible and, in the process, to make as much of a difference as possible.”

Of course, the past few weeks have not been the most memorable for Smit – a proud Springbok and a record-breaking captain, player and South African – after the Boks were unable to defend their World Cup title in New Zealand.

Said Smit: “This move has probably helped me a bit… it’s been a welcome distraction from the World Cup torment [after losing in the quarterfinals to the Wallabies earlier this month].

“Four years ago I was in a completely different frame of mind heading over to France and it would have been tougher for me heading to Saracens now as a World Cup winner – from an emotional point of view.”

Smit expects to make his debut for Saracens at some point over the next fortnight – “the coaches want to get me up to date first” – but he is already eyeing a trip back to his homeland early next year when the English champs take their Heineken Cup tie against Biarritz to Cape Town in January 2012.

“It’s an amazing, ground-breaking move,” said Smit of his club’s decision to move their Pool 5 meeting with their French opponents to a different continent.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been to Cape Town in the middle of January,” he chuckled, “normally we’re stuck in 100% humidity in Durban doing Super Rugby pre-season work!

“Look, I won’t lie, in-season trips to the Oktoberfest and Miami – not to mention watching boxing title fights, live – certainly didn’t hinder my decision to come here, but this is dynamic club and taking that match to Cape Town is just another way to help build the Saracens brand outside of England.”

By Howard Kahn

* This chat was made possible by Saracens Rugby Club. Simply ‘like’ the Saracens Facebook page and you could win a Springbok jersey signed by John Smit himself!

** Find out tomorrow what John Smit thinks about the Springboks – why their fourth-place ranking is a mockery and why the Bok coaching position is so crucial in a rugby-mad country like South Africa.

Source www.rugby365.com

Farewell, legends…

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The South African Rugby Union paid tribute to Springbok captain John Smit and vice-captain Victor Matfield today, following their retirement from international rugby.

A tribute to Bok warriors

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I had to re-post this article here because as I read it, I wondered why no respected SA journalist could come up with a fitting tribute like this.

‘Finish him!’ Rugby’s Mortal Combat

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The importance of a 22-man game was never more evident than when the Springboks scraped past Samoa on Friday – which reminded me of a famous line in a very popular video game in the 1990’s.

Bismarck’s reaction was despicable

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The following column are the thoughts of Kate Nokwe and re-published here with her kind permission.

“Leave Smit at home” – Ollie

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Former Springbok prop Ollie le Roux says there should be no place for John Smit in South Africa’s 22-man line-up.

Frans out, Smit & Bakkies doubtful

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Springbok fullback Frans Steyn will not be considered for Saturday’s Castle Tri-Nations Series Test against New Zealand in Port Elizabeth.

Smit okay, but 3 added to Bok squad

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The Springbok selectors have added Patrick Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo and Chiliboy Ralepelle to the training squad for Saturday’s Castle Tri-Nations Test against New Zealand in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Smit confirms Sarries move

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Springbok skipper John Smit says he is determined to inspire Saracens to back-to-back Aviva Premiership titles when he joins the English champions at the end of the Rugby World Cup in October on a two-year deal.

Alberts benched

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Sharks coach, John Plumtree, brought some interesting changes about to his team that went down to the Bulls last weekend.

Rugby News (Sun): Pienaar to Stormers/Bulls?

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Here is the latest rugby news from around the world.

Smit boosts confidence

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News24 columnist, Gary Boshoff, believes the Springboks will go to the World Cup with confidence given the announcement as Smit and Matfield as the leaders of the squad.

Smit remains captain

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John Smit, the most capped Test captain in history, was on Monday confirmed as Springbok captain for the 2011 international season.

Rugby News (Thu): Brussow is back

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The latest rugby news from around the world.

Smit resurgence poses a problem for Plum

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A great display in his favoured position by John Smit will no doubt give Sharks coach, John Plumtree, a lot to think about on his selection at hooker as they are about to face the top SA Franchise.

When the bed you made becomes uncomfortable

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It is becoming increasingly obvious that Springbok coach, Peter de Villiers, is starting to push the panic buttons.

P.Divvy is a worried man

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Adnaan Mohamed caught up with Springbok coach Peter de Villiers a couple of days before he names his first training group.

“I am still waiting for PDV’s call” – Plumtree

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The animosity between Sharks coach, John Plumtree, and Bok coach Peter de Villiers was again evident following the Sharks victory over the Lions this weekend.

JLP retained, Smit at loosehead

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Sharks coach, John Plumtree, has kept faith in Jacques-Louis Potgieter for this weekend’s clash against the Lions which also sees John Smit in the starting XV, but at loosehead.

Will we learn from RWC 1999?

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John Smit is being done a massive disservice at the moment, one that could spell disaster and cost him the Springbok captaincy for the Rugby World Cup later this year.

Smit drops to bench for Sharks

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Sharks coach John Plumtree has decided to play captain elect, John Smit, from the bench in their vital clash against the Stormers.

Bok captain named in May

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In what is arguably the first indication that confidence in John Smit as Springbok captain has wained, Peter de Villiers said that the Springbok captain for the 2011 season and World Cup will only be named on the 2nd May.

Smit back at 3

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John Smit will start his first Super rugby game of 2011 but not in his normal position of hooker.

More than just a legend

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Many rugby players will go down in history as legends, very few will be classed as a genius.

News to use, and lose

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Some news and information that does not deserve its own thread, but you might still find interesting.

Leading without example

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Springbok rugby and South African rugby in general is coming to the end of an era, and it might be time to think about what the future holds.

Statistically speaking

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Statistics are like a lamppost to a drunk man. It does not serve to illuminate but rather, to keep him upright.

Smit must do the honourable thing

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Amidst the vigorous debate surrounding head coach Peter de Villiers and his ticket – or not – to the World Cup, people seem to have rather tiptoed around another complex issue: is it really so clear-cut that John Smit will reassume the team leadership reins from stand-in Victor Matfield?

Broken Matfield makes emphatic statement

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Victor Matfield did not think anyone was watching but, coughing at the side of the interview room an hour after leading the Springboks to a thunderous victory, the captain’s warrior face crumpled into grimaces of agony.

Can Vic take the leadership role?

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When I was a rough and ready flanker for the mighty eighths at Dale College, I played for a teacher whose biology classes I used as an opportunity to catch up on sleep.

Like it or not, Smit is here to stay

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Chances are extremely slim that John Smit will be the captain of the hooker position in the Springbok squad next year … but those smelling the blood of the Bok captain, will probably be disappointed.

Watson is a changed man

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‘If I had my time again, I would do many things differently’ – Watson

John confirms Sharks contract extension

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John Smit finally confirmed that he has resisted tempting offers from the Lions to extend his contract with the Sharks.

John Smit out for rest of the year

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Springbok captain John Smit has officially been ruled out of the End of Year Grand Slam Tour as he is recovering from an operation.

Boks have platform to build from – Smit

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Springbok captain John Smit believes last weekend’s victory over Australia in Pretoria has given his team a platform to build on for this weekend’s follow-up Vodacom Tri-Nations clash at Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein.

Lions hunt for Smit

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The Lions are desperately looking to recruit senior players to strengthen their squad and avoid a disastrous Super 15 campaign next year.

Smit wants to go to RWC 2011

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If you are one of those that believe John Smit is a spent force and should retire, there is some bad news for you.

Steyn too good to leave out – Smit

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Springbok fullback Frans Steyn is too good a player just to leave on the sidelines and therefore it wasn’t a difficult choice to include him the starting line-up for Saturday’s Vodacom Tri-Nations Test match against Australia at Loftus Versfeld.

Big Vic one of the greatest of all time

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Springbok captain John Smit has made a passionate plea to fans and the people of Pretoria to jam-pack Loftus Versfeld for Saturday’s Tri-Nations encounter between the Boks and Australia to honour rugby great Victor Matfield.

Victor to captain Boks against Wallabies?

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Earlier today we mentioned that there might be some revelations from within the Bok camp, unfortunately the press conference delivered very little but the biggest surprise might only come when the team is named to take on the Wallabies.

One tackle breaks 90 000 hearts

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South African captain John Smit was left ruing a missed tackle which saw New Zealand grab a last-minute victory in their Tri-Nations encounter in Soweto on Saturday.

Born to lead

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Browsing the internet I could not find a better piece than the one Paul Dobson did to pay tribute to the most successful captain Springbok rugby has ever seen, John Smit.

Bok skipper’s former coaches hand out jersey’s

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John Smit’s former coaches at Pretoria Boys High, Paul Anthony and Jannie Biddulph, presented the Springboks with their match jerseys today ahead of tomorrow’s Vodacom Tri-Nations Test against the All Blacks.