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Where are 2007 Springboks stars?

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Springboks 2007 World Cup stars: Where are they now?

It’s been over a decade since South Africa last tasted World Cup glory, with their 15-6 triumph at the Stade de France in Paris eclipsing the feats of the world champion class of 1995.

In just four days’ time, they will be tasked with replicating their success in Yokohama, as they come up against England in the 2019 final, the same opponents they dispatched in the French capital 12 years ago.

In honour of the repeat fixture set to take place on rugby’s grandest stage, we look at where the Springboks match-day squad of 2007 have ended up in the ensuing years as Rassie Erasmus’ side prepare to clinch their third world title.

Continue reading below…

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1) Os du Randt

Retired from rugby following the 2007 World Cup success, becoming the first South African to win two world titles. Had coaching stints with the Cheetahs and Springboks in 2009 and 2010, but is now involved in TopTrim, a company which manufactures fitness and nutrition products and encourages active lifestyles. Will be one of six new inductees into the World Rugby Hall of Fame next month.

2) John Smit 

Captain of the victorious 2007 team, Smit hung up his boots in 2013 while playing for Premiership side Saracens. Was immediately appointed chief executive of his former Super Rugby club, the Sharks, a position which he held until mid-2016. Is now CEO of security and maintenance company SSG Holdings.

3) CJ van der Linde

Ended his 14-season career at Montpellier four years ago, but remained in the south of France as a scrum coach. Was supposed to take up the position of forwards coach with Currie Cup side Griquas at the beginning of this year, but instead signed a full-time role as scrum coach of the Canon Eagles in the Japanese Top League after having previously done consultancy work for them.

4) Bakkies Botha

One of the game’s genuine enforcers called time on his playing career in 2015 while plying his trade in the Top 14 with Toulon, where he became the first player to win a hat-trick of Super Rugby and European club titles. Now back in Pretoria, where he runs a butcher shop called Bakkies The Butcher.

5) Victor Matfield

A modern-day great of the game, Matfield announced his retirement from the game following the 2011 World Cup. Worked as a television presenter and as a lineout consultant for the Bulls in 2012 and 2013, but came out of retirement to sign a two-year deal with the club at the beginning of 2014. Eventually hung up his boots for a second time following the 2015 World Cup, ending his 127-test career in England with Northampton. Pulled out of the race to become Bulls head coach late last year, instead focusing on his role as a pundit for SuperSport.

6) Schalk Burger

One of the few players of the 2007 cohort to still be playing professionally. That may not be the case anymore, though, as Burger pulled the pin on his time with English and European club champions Saracens at the end of the 2018/19 season to return to South Africa. The 86-test veteran hasn’t yet indicated if he will continue his decorated 17-season career next year.

7) Juan Smith

Was forced into retirement in early 2013 following a series of Achilles injuries, but made a comeback later that year to sign with Toulon, where he won two European titles and one French title between 2014 and 2015. Played the last of his 70 tests during the 2014 Rugby Championship. Cited family reasons behind his decision to abruptly end his playing career with Japanese club Toyota Verblitz in 2017.

8) Danie Rossouw

Left South Africa following the Springboks’ quarter-final exit at the 2011 World Cup, moving to Japan to play for Suntory Sungoliath, and then to France, where he signed with Toulon. Finished his career in 2014 and returned to the Republic, where he set up his own safari company last year.

9) Fourie du Preez

Brought an end to his illustrious career in 2016 while playing for Suntory Sungoliath in the Top League. Took a World Cup, two Tri Nations titles and three Super Rugby, Currie Cup and All-Japan crowns with him into retirement. Is now involved in a small private equity firm in Pretoria called Fledge Capital.

10) Butch James

Retired from rugby in 2013 after club stints with the Sharks, Lions and Bath. Finished his career with 42 caps, and is still involved with rugby as a pundit for SuperSport. The 40-year-old is also a sales director for a property development business – Cameron Owen James Luxury Real Estate – in Durban.

11) Bryan Habana

The breakout star of the 2007 World Cup, where he equalled Jonah Lomu’s record of eight tries at a single tournament and went on to win World Player of the Year. Played the last of his 124 caps in South Africa’s maiden loss to Italy in 2016, and retired from the game last year with 67 international tries to his name. Has since graduated from the Toulouse Business School, is the chief relationship officer for Retroactive, a sports marketing agency in South Africa, and acts as an ambassador for a raft of blue chip companies such as MasterCard, Adidas and HSBC.

12) Francois Steyn

The only member of the 2007 World Cup side that is still active in the current Springboks set-up. Became the youngest player to win a World Cup final 12 years ago, lifting the Webb Ellis Cup at the age of 20 years and 159 days. Currently plying his trade in France with Montpellier, Steyn came off the bench in South Africa’s semi-final win over Wales on Sunday, and is expected to be part of the match-day squad for the final against England this Saturday.

13) Jaque Fourie

Was among the world’s best midfielders during the prime of his international career, which ended with 32 tries from 72 tests. Ended his Springboks career in 2013, but kept playing with the Kobelco Steelers in Japan until 2017. Joined the Western Force’s coaching staff upon his retirement, and was rumoured to make a playing comeback for the club last year. That never came to fruition, though, and he was instead enlisted as the USA’s defence coach leading into this World Cup.

14) JP Pieterson

Joins Burger and Steyn as the only players still playing professionally from this starting XV. Played in a further two World Cups for the Springboks before calling time on his international career in 2016. Played abroad for the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan, Leicester Tigers in England and Toulon in France between 2013 and 2019, but has since returned to South Africa and played in the most recent Currie Cup campaign for the Sharks.

15) Percy Montgomery

Landed four of his side’s five shots at goal at the Stade de France to sink England in the final over a decade ago. He completed his 102-test career in 2008, and re-joined the Springboks as a kicking coach between 2009 and 2011. Now living in Cape Town, the 45-year-old has been involved in charity work, setting up the SACS Percy Montgomery Rugby Foundation to help create opportunities for underprivileged yet talented rugby-playing children.

Replacements:

16) Bismarck du Plessis

Another to still be playing in the professional ranks, Du Plessis was one of only two players who took to the field from the bench for South Africa, making a five-minute cameo as an injury replacement for John Smit. After having last played for the Springboks at the 2015 World Cup, the 35-year-old still plays for Montpellier in the Top 14.

17) Jannie du Plessis

The older brother of Bismarck wasn’t as fortunate as his sibling on that night in Paris, as he was confined to the bench for the entirety of the match. He featured in another two World Cups before calling time on his test career in 2015, and stills plays alongside his younger brother at Montpellier.

18) Johann Muller

Played 24 times for the Springboks over a five-year test career, which ended at the 2011 World Cup. The 39-year-old went on to play until 2014 with Irish club Ulster, and he now works as a farmer near Mossel Bay.

19) Wikus van Heerden

The son of former Springbok lock Moaner van Heerden won 14 caps over a four-year span with South Africa, with his final appearance coming in this match as a 72nd-minute replacement for Danie Rossouw. His rugby career came to a close with the Lions in 2012.

20) Ruan Pienaar

A long-serving veteran to the Sharks between 2004 and 2010, and then Ulster between 2010 and 2017, Pienaar ended his 88-test career following the 2015 World Cup. Forced out of Ireland due to concerns around the development of homegrown players, the 35-year-old moved to Montpellier, where he stayed until midway through this year. He then joined the Cheetahs in July, helping them clinch their sixth Currie Cup title last month, and has enjoyed a rapid start to the new Pro14 campaign.

21) Andre Pretorius

A renowned point-scoring machine throughout his career, Pretorius notched 31 tests for the Springboks between 2002 and 2007. Outside of the international arena, he enjoyed a journeyman-like career, playing for various clubs across South Africa, Australia and France. The 40-year-old was, as of last year, working as a coach at the Investec International Rugby Academy in Durban.

22) Wynand Olivier

The most recent retiree of the 22 players named in South Africa’s match-day side for the 2007 final. Pulled the plug on his test career in 2014 after eight years in the national side, but kept playing at club level for Montpellier, and then Worcester Warriors. Announced his retirement from the game during the last Premiership season in April following a persistent hamstring injury.

Coach: Jake White

One of the most experienced coaches in the rugby fraternity, White stepped down as Springboks coach following his success in 2007. In the ensuing four years, he worked with World Rugby – then known as the International Rugby Board – as an assistant to their technical committee, but returned to coaching with the Brumbies in 2012. After leading them to the Super Rugby final in 2013, the 55-year-old joined the Sharks on a one-year deal before briefly acting as a technical advisor to Tonga’s head coach Mana Otai. At the end of 2014, White became the head coach of Montpellier, a role he held until 2017. Since then, he has worked as head coach for Toyota Verblitz in Japan, but is widely expected to be usurped by outgoing All Blacks boss Steve Hansen.

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Springboks 2007 World Cup stars: Where are they now?