The longest serving captain in Springbok rugby history gives a revealing account of the simultaneous joys and travails of one of the most challenging – and rewarding – jobs in sport in this much anticipated autobiography.
The genial, jovial and witty Rugby World Cup-winning captain explains how a tubby kid from Pietersburg with dreams of winning Wimbledon grew into his country’s most successful rugby captain.
Smit, renowned for his honesty and humility, gives an eyebrow-raising account of the ambushes awaiting rugby celebrities in this country and offers the secret to his longevity in a sport that eats the naïve and gullible for breakfast.
Besides Coach, Springbok Captain must be the most unforgiving job in South Africa. John William Smit is undeniably the most successful Springbok captain in history. Born in Pietersburg (Polokwane) South Africa on 3 April 1978, he was educated at the prestigious Pretoria Boys High school where he matriculated in 1996.
At PBH school he played for the schools first team from 1994 to 1996. It was also at PBH where his leadership abilities was first noticed when he was made head prefect in 1996. Smith made his debut for South Africa on June 10, 2000 at the age of 22 against Canada. On Saturday June 7, 2008 he played in his 76th test (vs Wales) which also was his 50th as captain.
As of 2005 Smit is one of South Africa’s most successful captains ever, having led the Springboks to victory in 16 of the 22 games that he captained, a win percentage of 72%. This makes him just as successful as other South African captains such as Gary Teichmann and Francois Pienaar.
Together with Jake White he lead South Africa to their second William Webb Ellis trophy on October 20, 2007. With predecessors like Francois Pienaar, Gary Teichman and Morne Du Plessis to name but a few, it is a mark of a great sportsman and a remarkable leader to be acknowledged as the best captain to ever lead the Springboks. Smit’s leadership qualities came to the fore in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, his calm under pressure and inspirational captaincy seeing South Africa win the William Web Ellis Trophy for the second time.
Smit led South Africa in the 2008 Tri Nations against Australia and New Zealand. In the first game against New Zealand in Wellington, he was spear tackled by New Zealand lock Brad Thorn who was suspended for one game. He missed the rest of the 2008 Tri-Nations because of a groin injury and veteran Springbok lock, Victor Matfield, led the side. About the Author Smit tells his story to Mike Greenaway the award-winning sports writer from The Mercury newspaper in KZN.
Greenaway has tracked Smit’s career from the day he arrived in Durban to join the Sharks as a 19-year-old after the Blue Bulls had shut the door in his face – and that is a chapter on its own! Published By: HIGHBURY SAFIKA MEDIA 125mm X 195mm/ 300pp / SC / ISBN 978-0-620-44751-5 / R 225/ Pub November 2009
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