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Aaron Smith has picked a Springbok as the best scrum-half to ever play at a Rugby World Cup

By Josh Raisey
(Photo by Getty Images)

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All Blacks scrum-half Aaron Smith has said that his South African counterpart Fourie du Preez was the best No9 to ever play at a Rugby World Cup even though the New Zealander was a winner at the tournament in 2015. 


Regarded by many as one of the all-time great half-backs, Smith took to Twitter and singled out the retired Springboks scrum-half as his pick after World Rugby had asked: “Best scrum-half to play at a Rugby World Cup?”

In a 76-cap career that spanned eleven years between 2004 and 2015 and covered three World Cups, du Preez lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2007, as did Smith eight years later.

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On top of his World Cup win and three Super Rugby titles with the Bulls, the South African is remembered as one of the great tactical minds the game has seen. 

The two players faced each other twice in Test rugby, with New Zealand coming out on top on both occasions. In fact, Smith was du Preez’s opposing No9 in his final-ever game for the Springboks – the 2015 World Cup semi-final at Twickenham that was won by the All Blacks.

Smith isn’t the only player to hold du Preez in such high regard. Australian great Will Genia also named the Springbok as the greatest scrum-half of all time recently. Those two faced each other on six occasions in international rugby, including the 2011 World Cup quarter-final in Wellington. 


Of the three, Smith is the only one who is still an active Test player as Genia retired from the international game at the end of the 2019 World Cup. The 32-year-old Smith will continue to add to his legacy in the years to come, which should include him becoming a Test centurion this year as he currently has 987 caps. 


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