Duane Vermeulen, who made his debut as Springbok captain when the Boks drew 16-all with the All Blacks in the test in Wellington on Saturday, has set something of a record for a Bok captain from Northern Transvaal.
Of the eight Northern Transvaal and Bulls/Blue Bulls players who captained the Springbok, seven captained South Africa against New Zealand.
Quite interestingly, of Danie Craven, Salty du Rand, Theuns Stofberg, Naas Botha, Victor Matfield, Van der Westhuizen and now Vermeulen who captained the Boks against New Zealand, the latter was the only one not to lose his first test as a captain against New Zealand.
Have a look at the following:
♦ The first of the players who captained the Boks while playing for Northern Transvaal was Danie Craven (1938) who had his second Springboks captaincy against the British Lions in 1938 when he was stationed at Garrison in Pretoria during the second World War after leading the Springboks in the first test in New Zealand in 1937.
♦ Then followed lock Salty du Randt who, like Craven, wasn’t the tour captain on the New Zealand tour but also led the Boks only in the first test in 1956.
♦ After him came Theuns Stofberg (first captaincy 1980). He, too, wasn’t the tour captain on the 1981 tour under Wynand Classen, who took over the captaincy in the second test. Stofberg also could not get a win in his only test as captain against New Zealand.
♦ Naas Botha first captained the Boks in 1986 against the “rebel” team of New Zealand, the Cavaliers. These four tests are not regarded as tests by New Zealand.
Botha captained the Springboks in the 1992 test at Ellis Park that marked South Africa’s return to international rugby after being ostracised because of the Apartheid policy of the National Party government. The Boks lost 24-27.
♦ Joost van der Westhuizen (1999) was the next Springbok captain from Northern Transvaal and lost his first test as captain against the All Backs in 1999 when Sean Fitzpatrick’s All Blacks became the first New Zealand side to win a series in South Africa.
♦ Victor Matfield became Springbok captain in 2007 and faced the All Blacks as captain in the same year and lost.
♦ After him came Fourie du Preez in the 2015 World Cup and now Duane Vermeulen as Springbok captains from Northern Transvaal.