John Smit, the most capped Test captain in history, was on Monday confirmed as Springbok captain for the 2011 international season. Victor Matfield, the most capped player in Springbok history, was also confirmed as vice captain by Springbok coach Peter de Villiers at the conclusion of a two-day national planning camp.
Smit, who led South Africa to the Rugby World Cup title in 2007 and has captained the team on 76 occasions in his 102 tests, takes charge as captain for an eighth successive season. Matfield – who has led the Vodacom Bulls to the Vodacom Super Rugby title on three occasions – has also captained the Springboks on 15 occasions in his 105 Tests.
“John and Victor have an unbelievable amount of experience and we’re fortunate to be able to name them as captain and vice captain,” said De Villiers.
“They are outstanding players in their positions and to have both still available in a Rugby World Cup year is a great boost for South African rugby. They are hugely respected in world rugby and have a massive influence on the teams in which they play.
“History has shown that teams that do well at Rugby World Cups have experience and outstanding leadership and we’ve learnt in the past that you throwaway that experience at your peril.”
Smit made his test debut against Canada in 2000 and captained the team for the first time during the 2003 Rugby World Cup before taking over on a fulltime basis in 2004.
“The responsibility comes with a great deal of pressure and expectation but it never loses the thrill or the sense of privilege that comes with it,” said Smit. “I’m humbled by the faith the coach has placed in me and the duty to our country that comes with it.”
The decision to confirm the appointments was announced to the 51 players who gathered for the national planning camp. The two days were occupied by operational and logistical planning for the coming season.
The second of three, two-day national planning camps will take place in Durban on June 12-13.