John Smit
Birth nameJohn William Smit
Date of birth (1978-04-03) 3 April 1978 (age 45)
Place of birthPietersburg, South Africa (now Polokwane, South Africa)
Height1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Weight268 lb (122 kg; 19 st 2 lb)[1]
SchoolPretoria Boys High School
UniversityUniversity of Natal
SpouseRoxanne Smit
Children2 daughters (Emma, Taylor), 1 son (Tyron)
Rugby league career
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1990 Durban Crusaders ()
Rugby union career
Position(s) Hooker, prop
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1997 University of Natal (Maritzburg) ()
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
2007–2008 Clermont 3 (5)
2011–2013 Saracens 46 (10)
Provincial / State sides
Years Team Apps (Points)
1998–2011 Sharks (Currie Cup) ()
Super Rugby
Years Team Apps (Points)
1998–2011 Sharks 125 (40)
International career
Years Team Apps (Points)
2000–2011 South Africa 111 (40)

John William Smit, OIS, (born 3 April 1978) is a South African former professional rugby union player and former chief executive officer of the Sharks. He was the 50th captain of the Springbok 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 & 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.

International tries


Try Opposing team Location Venue Competition Date Result Score
1  Italy Genoa, Italy Stadio Marassi 2001 end-of-year rugby internationals 17 November 2001 Win 26 – 54
2  Wales Pretoria, South Africa Loftus Versfeld Stadium 2004 June rugby union tests 26 June 2004 Win 53 – 18
3  Samoa Johannesburg, South Africa Ellis Park 2007 June rugby union tests 9 June 2007 Win 35 – 8
4  Fiji Marseille, France Stade Vélodrome 2007 Rugby World Cup 7 October 2007 Win 37 – 20
5  British and Irish Lions Durban, South Africa ABSA Stadium 2009 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa 20 June 2009 Win 26 – 21
6  France Toulouse, France Stadium Municipal 2009 end-of-year rugby union internationals 13 November 2009 Loss 20 – 13
7  Australia Sydney, Australia ANZ Stadium 2011 Tri Nations Series 23 July 2011 Loss 39 – 20
8  New Zealand Wellington, New Zealand Westpac Stadium 2011 Tri Nations Series 30 July 2011 Loss 40 – 7


During the run-up to the 2007 Rugby World Cup, he was linked with the French club Clermont.[11] He eventually signed a two-year deal with Clermont, effective after the World Cup.[12] Despite his move to France, the South African Rugby Union announced on 20 February 2008 that he would retain his Boks captaincy.[citation needed]. After just one year with Clermont, Smit rejoined the Sharks and the Super 14 side Sharks.

2009 British & Irish Lions tour

Smit captained South Africa in their 2–1 series win over the British & Irish Lions.

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 & Irish Lions
2010 2–0  Italy


  1. ^ "Aviva Premiership Rugby – Saracens". web page. Premier Rugby. Archived from the original on 3 February 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
  2. ^ Ray, Craig (27 October 2008). "Smit must reinvent Bok role". The Sunday Times (Johannesburg). Archived from the original on 20 February 2009. Retrieved 27 October 2008.
  3. ^ "RWC legends inducted into IRB Hall of Fame" (Press release). International Rugby Board. 26 October 2011. Archived from the original on 27 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". The Sydney Morning Herald. 6 July 2008. Archived from the original on 3 August 2008. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  7. ^ a b "Statsguru / Test matches / Player records (filter: as captain)". Retrieved 28 October 2009.
  8. ^ "Rugby Teams, Scores, Stats, News, Fixtures, Results, Tables – ESPN".
  9. ^ "Springbok milestone watch".
  10. ^ "John William Smit". ESPN scrum. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  11. ^ Cain, Nick (29 April 2007). "Player exodus threatens world order". The Sunday Times. London. Retrieved 30 April 2007.
  12. ^ "Matfield not lost to SA rugby". 3 August 2007. Archived from the original on 11 August 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
Rugby Union Captain Preceded byMartin Johnson(England) IRB World Cupwinning captain 2007 Succeeded byRichie McCaw(New Zealand) Preceded byBobby Skinstad Springbok Captain 2003–11 Succeeded byVictor Matfield