In the first part of a new series, readers were asked to rate which front rowers from the past two series against the British & Irish Lions were the most valuable to the Bok cause.
Since the advent of professionalism, the Lions have toured South Africa on two occasions: in 1997 and 2009. The Lions edged the 1997 series 2-1, while the Springboks returned the favour with a famous 2-1 series victory of their own 12 years ago.
As the 2021 Lions series looms on the horizon, readers were given the opportunity to look back at some of the prominent names who featured in the front row during those two series.
This included the likes of former Springbok captain John Smit, hooker Bismarck du Plessis, 2019 World Cup-winning prop Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira and two-time World Cup-winner Os du Randt.
Mtawarira was the clear favourite, gathering 62.05% of the vote after his dominant performance against the Lions back in 2009. In one of the standout moments of his career, Mtawarira famously scrummed against Phil Vickery and dominated his more experienced opponent, leading the Englishman to be substituted at half time in the first Test of the series.
Du Plessis and Smit, who were also part of that same Springbok scrum in 2009, received 17,49% and 5,24% of the vote, respectively. Smit memorably led the team from tighthead prop, despite playing most of his professional rugby at hooker up until that time.
Du Randt, who started all three Tests against the Lions during their 1997 tour of South Africa, was also a popular option, getting the third-most votes with 14,68%.
*Part two of the series will look at members of the second row
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