Most-capped Springboks: The six Bok rugby centurions


Only six men have played 100 Tests for the Springboks, making them the gold standard for South African rugby.

Among their number are skippers, record try-scorers and points machines.

The most-capped Springboks

Percy Montgomery – 102 caps

Most-capped Springboks
Most-capped Springboks: South African fullback Percy Montgomery (L) kicks a drop goal during the Rugby World Cup third place play-off match between New Zealand and South Africa at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff 04 November 1999. South Africa defeated New Zealand 22-18.

Montgomery made his Springbok debut against the British and Irish Lions at Kings Park in 1997; he would play for his country for over a decade and won the Rugby World Cup in 2007.

He may have earned more caps for the Springboks had he not spent time playing in Wales with Newport. He missed the 2003 World Cup as a result of playing overseas and an 18-month suspension for pushing a touch judge.

Montgomery announced his retirement from international rugby on 30 August 2008, after the Springboks beat Australia 53-8 in their last Test of the 2008 Tri-Nations.

He is the Springboks all-time leading points-scorer with 893 points to his name.

Jean de Villiers – 109 caps

Most-capped Springboks
Most-capped Springboks.

Photo: SA Rugby

De Villiers made a name for himself at international level with the Blitzboks, playing a major role in teams that finished second in the 2001-02 IRB World Sevens Series and took bronze at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

He impressed as part of the Junior Springboks side that won the IRB U21 World Championships in 2002. His outstanding tournament, that included four tries, saw him rewarded with his first senior Springbok cap against France in November the same year.

His career was plagued by injury leaving one to wonder just how many caps he might have earned with better luck in the department.

He is the only member of the 100-club never to have won the Rugby World Cup with injury ruling him out of the victorious 2007 campaign.

De Villiers played his 109th and final test against Samoa in Birmingham on 26 September in a Rugby World Cup pool match. He fractured his jaw during the physical contest and would retire after withdrawing from the tournament.

He captained the Springboks in 37 Test matches.

John Smit – 111 Caps

British and Irish Lions
Most-capped Springboks: John Smit, the Springboks captain dives over to score the first try during the First Test match between the South African Springboks and the British and Irish Lions at Kings Park Stadium on June 20, 2009 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Smit is not only the fourth most-capped Springbok of all-time but also holds the record for the most matches as skipper of the Green and Gold.

He led the Springboks to RWC glory in 2007 and would skipper South Africa to victory over the British and Irish Lions in 2009.

Smit made his debut against Canada in 2000 and would remain in and around the Springbok group until his retirement in 2011.

He appeared in a record 46 consecutive Test matches between 2003 and 2007.

When Jake White was appointed as the new Springboks’ coach in early 2004 he handed Smit the captaincy permanently. Smit would captain the side in 83 Tests.

He retired after the Springboks controversial exit from the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira – 117 caps

Beast Mtawarira retires
Most-capped Springboks: South Africa players Mbongeni Mbonambi (l) Tendai Mtawarira (c) and captain Siya Kolisi celebrate after the Rugby World Cup 2019 Semi-Final match between Wales and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on October 27, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Mtawarira earned more caps for the Springboks than any other front-row forward, playing his 117th and last game when the Boks lifted the Webb Ellis Trophy in Yokohama in 2019.

He scored just two tries in his career but his work in the scrums and as a ball-carrier more than made up for a lack of points.

Mtawarira made his debut for the Springboks against Wales on 14 June 2008.

He established himself as an international force in the 2009 series against the British and Irish Lions. Scrumming against Phil Vickery in the first Test Mtawarira dominated his more experienced opponent, leading to Vickery being substituted after 45 minutes, and a man-of-the-match award for Beast.

Mtawarira also holds the record for the most Super Rugby caps by a South African with 160 caps which all came in the colours of the Sharks.

Bryan Habana – 124 caps

most tries in the rugby world cup
Most-capped Springboks: South Africa’s winger Bryan Habana looks at a scrum during the rugby union World Cup final match England vs. South Africa, 20 October 2007 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU (Photo by MARTIN BUREAU / AFP)

The Springboks all-time leading try-scorer, Habana kept up a terrific strike-rate throughout his career anding with 67 tries from 124 Test matches.

The 2007 IRB Player of the Year, Habana is regarded as one of the most lethal wingers ever to play the game. He is fourth on the Springboks all-time points scorers list despite having never taken a shot at goal.

In 2007 Habana equalled the late great Jonah Lomu’s Rugby World Cup record for the most tries at a single tournament.

Habana made his Springboks debut on a November tour to Europe, taking his bow at Twickenham against England. He hung up his boots after another series of November international in 2016.

Victor Matfield – 127 caps

South Africa’s lock Victor Matfield catches the ball on a line-out during the rugby union World Cup final match England vs. South Africa, 20 October 2007 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU

Arguably the greatest second-row forward the game has ever seen Matfield had a long and fruitful partnership with Springbok enforcer Bakkies Botha.

Matfield made his Springbok Test debut in 2001 facing the touring Italy side and soon established himself as a regular. 

His lineout prowess aided the Springboks 2004 revival under the leadership of Jake White.

He was central to the successful 2007 RWC campaign and won the Man of the Match award in the final against England for his brilliant work in the lineout.

Matfield also captained the Springboks and was part of two of South Africa’s three Tri-Nations title wins in 2004 and 2009.

His final match for the Springboks was the 2015 Rugby World Cup third-place playoff against Argentina. Protection Status


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