Three Springbok legends, Jean de Villiers, John Smit and Schalk Burger have revealed the horrific stories from the infamous 2003 World Cup training camp known as Kamp Staaldraad.


In a new video from the ‘Use It or Lose It’ show – World Champion Springboks Smit and Burger went into some of the details of the notorious episode in South African rugby.

The training camp, Kamp Staaldraad has resonated with a shroud of mystery for many rugby fans who wonder exactly what happened to the Springbok players during that training camp before the 2003 World Cup in Australia.

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Former Springbok player Joe van Niekerk was asked my Midi Olympique two months ago if he had ever been afraid in rugby. He went on to list some of the experiences that he had at that training camp.

This was the most revealing paragraph from his interview with the French publication…

“Kamp Staaldraad, it was crazy when I think about it. We called the soldiers ‘sir’, they answered us using our service number. We had to climb nude through tunnels dug by foxes as they poured frozen water over our heads.”

The camp was designed to give the Springbok players a taste of military organisation. However, the camp went too far and it ended up breaking a lot of the players.


The Springboks would go on to be eliminated from the tournament in the quarter-final stages by New Zealand.

van Niekerk on 2003 nightmare preparations

(Photo by Jonathon Wood/Getty Images)

Three former Springboks, Schalk Burger, John Smit and Jean De Villiers all spoke about the camp on their new show, “Use it or Lose it.”

The trio spoke about the experience at the camp.


World Cup-winning flanker Schalk Burger recalled about how even before the camp commenced the players had an idea of how brutal the camp would be.

“We were on the bus on the way to the camp. John (Smit) obviously got a tip-off or heard something about the camp, so he snuck a lighter on the inside of his cap so that we could light a fire. We were bare feet, we had to strap our feet up. They transported us from a bus to a truck, when we went back to the bus Bakkies Botha let out this enormous fart. Everyone was laughing at this and the next moment ten gunshots went over our heads. At this moment, I realised, this is not your normal rugby camp, this is real.”

The Springbok trio spoke in great detail about just how gruelling this camp was in this episode.




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