John Smit

John Smit
Full name John William Smit
Date of birth (1978-04-03) 3 April 1978
Place of birth Pietersburg, South Africa
Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Weight 268 lb (122 kg; 19 st 2 lb)[1]
School Pretoria Boys High School
University University of Natal (briefly)
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Hooker, prop
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team
1997 University of Natal (Maritzburg)
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
correct as of 20 October 2013.
Provincial/State sides
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1998–2011 Sharks (Currie Cup) ? (?)
Super Rugby
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1998–2007, 2008–2011 Sharks 125 (40)
Current local club Sharks – CEO
correct as of 20 October 2013.
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
2000–2011 South Africa South Africa 111 (40)
correct as of 30 November 2012.

John William Smit (born 3 April 1978) is a South African former rugby union player and currently chief executive officer of the Sharks. He was the 50th captain of the South Africa national rugby union team, and led the team to win the 2007 Rugby World Cup. He played most of his senior career as a hooker, but also won 13 caps as a prop, where he had also played for South Africa's under-21 team.[2] He retired from international rugby following the 2011 Rugby World Cup as the most-capped South African player ever, with 111 appearances.

Smit was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame on 24 October 2011 (while still active at club level), alongside all other World Cup-winning captains and head coaches from the tournament's inception in 1987 through 2007 (minus the previously inducted John Eales).[3]

Early life

Born 3 April 1978 in Pietersburg, South Africa, Smit attended Fields College (then Fields Primary School) in Rustenburg and then went on to Pretoria Boys High School where he was head prefect in 1996 and played for the school's first XV from 1994 to 1996.[4]

Springbok career

Smit played his first Springbok game in 2000 at the age of 22, when South Africa beat Canada 51–18 at Basil Kenyon Stadium in East London. Between October 2003 and June 2007, Smit played in a record 46 consecutive Test matches for South Africa, though it was not until 2004, when he was made captain of the squad by then new coach Jake White, that he became a regular member of the starting XV.

Smit's record-breaking sequence of appearances came to an end with South Africa's first match of the 2007 Tri Nations, against Australia, when he suffered an injury that prevented him taking any further part in the tournament. He recovered from his injury in time to take part in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, in which he started in 6 out of 7 South African matches and in which his leadership qualities came to the fore, saw South Africa win the William Web Ellis Trophy for the second time.

When Peter de Villiers was appointed as the new South Africa coach in 2008, one of his first decisions was to re-appoint Smit as the captain of the national side.[5] Smit led South Africa in their opening game of the 2008 Tri Nations, against New Zealand in Wellington, but suffered a groin injury when he was lifted and dumped by New Zealand lock Brad Thorn after the whistle had blown: Thorn received a one-match suspension[6] but Smit missed the rest of the tournament, being replaced as captain by veteran Springbok lock, Victor Matfield.

Smit in the Springbok change kit, coming out for a pre-match warmup.

In 2009, Smit led South Africa to a series victory against the visiting British and Irish Lions, and followed this by leading his team to success in the 2009 Tri Nations, in which South Africa won five of their six matches, including a clean sweep of three wins against New Zealand.

In the first test against New Zealand, Smit equalled the record of 59 Tests as captain held by Australia's George Gregan and England's Will Carling. The following week, he became the most-capped captain in international rugby history.[7]

As of September 2009, Smit is one of South Africa's most successful captains ever, having led the Springboks to victory in 46 of the 64 games that he captained, a win percentage of 72%.[8] He has won more tests as captain than any other Springbok has played as captain.[7] On 23 August 2010, he played his 100th Test – only the 15th player ever, and second South African to reach that milestone.[9]

After his Springbok retirement his record as captain for the most international games was broken, by Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll in 2012 and New Zealand's Richie McCaw in 2013.


During the run-up to the 2007 Rugby World Cup, he was linked with the French club Clermont.[10] He eventually signed a two-year deal with Clermont, effective after the World Cup.[11] Despite his move to France, the South African Rugby Union announced on 20 February 2008 that he would retain his Boks captaincy. . After just one year with Clermont, Smit rejoined the Sharks and the Super 14 side Sharks.

2009 British and Irish Lions Tour

Smit captained South Africa in their 2–1 series win over the British and Irish Lions, after winning the first two tests, South Africa were 2nd best in the final test and the British and Irish Lions claimed a convincing win.

South Africa Honours as Captain

Rugby World Cup

Tri Nations

Year Result Opposing Team
2004 2–0  Ireland
2005 1–0  France
2006 2–0  Scotland
2007 2–0  England
2008 2–0  Wales
2009 2–1 British and Irish Lions
2010 2–0  Italy


  1. "Aviva Premiership Rugby – Saracens". web page. Premier Rugby. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
  2. Ray, Craig (27 October 2008). "Smit must reinvent Bok role". The Sunday Times (Johannesburg). Retrieved 27 October 2008.
  3. "RWC legends inducted into IRB Hall of Fame" (Press release). International Rugby Board. 26 October 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  4. "Smit coaches present jerseys". Sport24. 20 August 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  5. "Smit to continue as Springboks skipper". 20 February 2008. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  6. "Thorn banned for one week for bad tackle". Sydney Morning Herald. 6 July 2008. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  7. 1 2 "Statsguru / Test matches / Player records (filter: as captain)". Retrieved 28 October 2009.
  10. Cain, Nick (29 April 2007). "Player exodus threatens world order". The Sunday Times. London. Retrieved 30 April 2007.
  11. "Matfield not lost to SA rugby". 3 August 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
Rugby Union Captain
Preceded by
Martin Johnson
IRB World Cup
winning captain

Succeeded by
Richie McCaw
(New Zealand)
Preceded by
Bobby Skinstad
Springbok Captain
Succeeded by
Victor Matfield
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