We’ve picked a combined Bok team from the 1995, 2007, 2019 and 2023 World Cup wins … how close are we to your best of the best team?
So, who’s the best of the best?
Who should be included in the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup-winning dream team of all-time? That is, from the players who featured in the title-winning 1995, 2007, 2019 and 2023 tournaments?
The Boks are now four-time champions, having just gone back-to-back having won in France at the weekend.
And while it is hard and probably unfair to compare teams and championship-winning runs because the opposition and eras are all so different, and it is even harder to pick a combined best 23, we’ve given it our best shot.
Here then, we name our best World Cup-winning Bok team of all-time, picked exclusively from players who feature in the tournament-winning squads. Please note not every squad member has been mentioned here as an option.
Andre Joubert (1995), Percy Montgomery (2007), Willie le Roux (2009 and 2023) and Damian Willemse (2019 and 2023) are our candidates.
All four were massive in their contribution to that specific year’s triumph, making picking just one all the more difficult.
James Small, Pieter Hendricks and Chester Williams featured in 1995, while in 2007 Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen were the first-choice options.
In 2019 and now in 2023 the first-choice wingers were Cheslin Kolbe, Makazole Mapimpi and Kurt-Lee Arendse. Again, all quality players.
In 1995 Hennie le Roux and Japie Mulder were the preferred centres, while in 2007 there was Frans Steyn who came in for the injured Jean de Villiers, Wynand Olivier and Jaque Fourie, and in 2019 and 2023 Damian de Allende, Andre Esterhuizen, Lukhanyo Am and Jesse Kriel were in the mix, with Canan Moodie also an option.
Joel Stransky was the first-choice No 10 in 1995, while in 2007 Butch James got the nod ahead of Andre Pretorius as the first-choice.
In the back-to-back wins of recent times Handre Pollard has been big, scoring 22 and 12 points respectively in the two finals, with Elton Jantjies (2019) and Manie Libbok (2023) adding support.
Who will ever forger Joost van der Westhuizen during the 1995 tournament and then Fourie du Preez in 2007, backed up by Ruan Pienaar, while more recently it’s been Faf de Klerk, backed up by Cobus Reinach, Herschel Jantjies (2019) and Jaden Hendrikse and Grant Williams.
Interestingly in the 1995 and 2007 campaigns locks Mark Andrews and Danie Rossouw played at No 8 in the finals, with the likes of Adriaan Richter and Rudolf Straeuli the actual first-choice men in ’95, while in 2007 Bob Skinstad was the other No 8 in the group.
In 2019 and 2023 the Boks had Duane Vermeulen and Jasper Wiese as preferred choices.
In 1995 Francois Pienaar and Ruben Kruger were first-choice, in 2007 it was Schalk Burger, Juan Smith and Wikus van Heerden, and more recently in 2019 and 2023 it was Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Francois Louw, Kwagga Smith, and Marco van Staden.
Kobus Wiese, Hannes Strydom and Andrews were the options in 1995, in 2007 it was Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield, with Albert van den Berg, Johan Muller and Rossouw as a back-up, while in 2019 and now it’s been Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Franco Mostert, RG Snyman, Marvin Orie and Jean Kleyn.
Balie Swart and Os du Randt were the men in 1995 with Garry Pagel and Marius Hurter backing them up, in 2007 it was again Du Randt, with CJ van der Linde, Gurthro Steenkamp, BJ Botha and Jannie du Plessis options and in 2019 and 2023 it’s been Frans Malherbe, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Beast Mtawarira, Ox Nche, and Trevor Nyakane.
James Dalton, Chris Rossouw and Naka Drotske were the options in 1995, in 2007 it was John Smit and Bismarck du Plessis, with Gary Botha the backup, and in 2019 and 2023 it’s been Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Schalk Brits and utility man Deon Fourie.
Our dream team (23, bench split 6-2):
Andre Joubert, Cheslin Kolbe, Jaque Fourie, Damian de Allende, Bryan Habana, Handre Pollard, Joost van der Westhuizen, Schalk Burger, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (capt), Victor Matfield, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Os du Randt.
Bench: John Smit Jannie du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira, Bakkies Botha, Juan Smith, Duane Vermeulen, Fourie du Preez, Percy Montgomery
Joubert’s all-round strength in attack and defence, and his kicking, got him the nod over Montgomery, who’s picked to cover 10, 12, 13, wing and fullback on our bench.
Picking just two wings was hard as the Boks have always had quality 11s and 14s in their World Cup wins, and the same goes for the centres; Jean de Villiers and Frans Steyn miss out here, and Lukhanyo Am and Japie Mulder too.
Stransky was close to getting a pick, but Pollard’s twin wins and his excellent all-round play and goal-kicking got him the nod.
Having to choose between Van der Westhuizen, Du Preez and Faf de Klerk (a two-time World Cup winner) as best No 9 was hard, but Van der Westhuizen was always brilliant.
The loose-forward picks, like always, was a pain because of all the quality, with Schalk Burger getting in at No 8 … while there was no place, sadly, for Ruben Kruger or Francois Pienaar.
The lock and prop picks were just as hard, while how does one separate Smit, Marx and Du Plessis, and then there’s Dalton, too, as well as Mbonambi and Rossouw.
With input from Ross Roche.