Full name John William Smit
Born April 3, 1978, Pietersburg
Current age 36 years 359 days
Major teams Barbarians, Saracens, Sharks, South Africa
Position Hooker, Prop
Height 6 ft 2 in
Weight 268 lb
|IRB Rugby World Cup||2003-2011||17||13||4||5||1||0||0||0||14||3||0||82.35|
|The Rugby Championship||2000-2011||40||31||9||10||2||0||0||0||17||22||1||43.75|
|Test debut||South Africa v Canada at East London, Jun 10, 2000 match details|
|Last Test||Australia v South Africa at Wellington, Oct 9, 2011 match details|
|Test Statsguru||Main menu | Career summary | Match list | Most points | Most tries | Tournament list|
John Smit is the former South Africa captain and inspirational hooker who memorably led his side to the sport's biggest prize at the 2007 World Cup in France.
South Africa's most-capped captain has anchored the Springboks' scrum more times than any other player and also appeared in a record 46 consecutive Test matches between 2003 and 2007. Nick Mallett, his former coach, handed a 22-year-old Smit his international debut against Canada on 10 June 2000, using him as a replacement in the Springboks' comprehensive 51-18 victory.
Smit retained his place in the squad throughout that year's Tri-Nations campaign and was finally given his first start against Argentina on 12 November 2000. The gamble to throw Smit into the cauldron of the River Plate Stadium - packed with 60,000 fans - paid off with his hooker delivering an accomplished performance.
Smit held onto the No.2 shirt throughout the end-of-year tour to Europe and for the incoming tours the following year but was displaced for the 2001 Tri-Nations.
Although he remained part of the squad until the end of the year, scoring his first Test try against Italy, he dropped out of the international picture for the following 18 months with a recurring shoulder injury. The next South Africa coach, Rudolf Straeuli, handed recalled him to their squad for the 2003 World Cup.
He featured in all five matches in Australia and became the 51st player to captain the Springboks in the 46-19 win over Georgia on 24 October.
Jake White was appointed as the new Springboks' coach in early 2004 and he handed Smit the captaincy on a permanent basis. The two immediately struck up a winning partnership with South Africa clinching their first Tri-Nations crown since 1998.
Smit went on to play a South African record of 46 consecutive Test matches between 2003 and 2007 before his run was cruelly cut short ahead of the Tri-Nations clash with New Zealand in Durban by injury.
That year began well for Smit and the Springboks with two crushing victories over England but Tri-Nations disappointment followed. But the World Cup brought redemption with Smit featuring in all seven victories, culminating with the 15-6 final triumph over England at the Stade de France in Paris.
In the first game of the 2008 Tri-Nations Smit was the victim of a spear tackle from New Zealand's Brad Thorn. That tackle, and a subsequent groin injury, brought a premature end to his campaign.
Smit has played all his provincial rugby in South Africa for the Sharks with whom he was a beaten finalist in the 2001 Super 12 competition where they lost out to the Brumbies. Smit was captain of the Sharks side that were beaten by South African rivals the Bulls in the final of the 2007 super 14 competition.
In the run-up to the 2007 Rugby World Cup Smit was linked with a lucrative move to French Top 14 club ASM Clermont Montferrand. When his move was confirmed after the Rugby World Cup the South African Rugby Union made the unprecedented decision that Smit would retain the Springboks captaincy.
Smit made only a few appearances for his new club but featured as a replacement in the Top 14 Final defeat to Toulouse. After just one year in France, Smit re-signed with Natal and the Sharks in South Africa.
At the end of 2008, he bounced back from his injury woes to lead South Africa on an undefeated tour of the UK with victories over Wales, Scotland and most memorably England - condemning them to their biggest-ever defeat at Twickenham. Following the end of the Springboks tour, Smit captained the Barbarians in their 18-12 loss to Australia at Wembley Stadium.
In 2009 Smit led the Springboks to a 2-1 series victory over the British & Irish Lions. He scored a try after four minutes in the narrow 26-21 win over the tourists in the first Test in Durban and played in all three matches in the series. Later the same year he steered the Springboks to the Tri-Nations crown for the first time since 2004 and during their campaign he became the most-capped captain in Test rugby history. The title was wrapped up with victory over New Zealand in Hamilton - their third successive win against their old rivals.
Defeats at the hands of France and Ireland at the end of the year tarnished an otherwise stand-out year but he led the Springboks back to winning ways in 2010, racking up 50 Test wins as captain against Italy in East London. Later the same year he became the 15th player to join the ranks of rugby's Test centurions and in 2011 was named as the man to lead South Africa to the Rugby World Cup despite fears over his form at provincial level.
In July 2011 John Smit confirmed he would join Aviva Premiership champions Saracens after the World Cup. Smit also announced the World Cup would be his last appearance in a Springbok shirt. Despite criticism over his level of performance in a Boks jersey, Smit lead the reigning champions into the 2011 showpiece.
The Boks were knocked out by Australia in the quarter-finals and Smit stepped into international retirement.