In a reversal of fortune, Gary Teichmann gave up the armband to Francois Pienaar, who now faces the next challenger in the series to determine the best Springbok skipper.
Pienaar won 58% of the vote in last week’s captain’s run, after his 1996 successor Teichmann wrestled control from Jean de Villiers, who kicked off the leadership battle by strong-arming Siya Kolisi.
Now Pienaar faces John Smit, who led the Boks in 83 Tests that included World Cup glory in 2007, and would skipper his country to victory over the British & Irish Lions in 2009.
When Smit took over the captaincy of the Boks permanently in 2004, he found himself in the thick of it, after two years of controversy off the field and defeat in virtually every major battle on it.
His quiet diplomacy, together with Bok coach Jake White, helped the Boks rediscover not just their self-respect but made them more feared throughout the rugby world than at any time since they won the World Cup in 1995.
Smit is not only the fourth-most-capped Bok of all time with 111 Test caps, but holds the record for the most matches as skipper in the green and gold.
He played most of his senior career as a hooker, but also won 13 Test caps as a prop, where he had also played for the SA U21s. His value as a leader was such that he was favoured ahead of Bismarck du Plessis, even shifting to tighthead prop to accommodate the younger rake.
Smit followed up his playing career by taking over as Sharks CEO from 2013 to 2016.