Following Cheslin Kolbe’s massive performance in the Rugby World Cup Pool B clash against the All Blacks in Yokohama on Saturday, Quintin van Jaarsveld highlights some of the biggest little men in Springbok history.
South Africa has always been the land of the giants when it comes to rugby. The Springboks are universally revered/feared for their monstrous size and unbridled physicality. More than any other nation in world rugby, South Africa rely on their gigantic forwards – bulldozers with ball-in-hand, immovable on defence and seemingly carved out of granite – to power them to victory.
When it comes to Springbok rugby, size matters. It always has and it always will. It’s the one common denominator shared by all who have coached the team through the generations. Jake White, who guided the Springboks to their second World Cup crown in the 2007 showpiece in France, summed up the size-centric mentality best when he said a good big player will always enjoy preference over a good small player.
Every so often, though, a smaller, Raptor-like scavenger sneaks into the leviathan landscape and lights it up with scintillating speed, bewildering footwork and sheer will. What they lack in size, they make up for in skill, creativity and heart, proving that the age-old cliché it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog rings true even in the Test arena.
With that in mind, we shine the spotlight on six players who forced their way into the Springbok set-up and punched above their weight in the Green and Gold (in chronological order).