Which of the many great players to have thundered into battle at the Free State Stadium deserves to be the first to be inducted into SARugbymag’s Cheetahs Hall of Fame?
Born and bred in Bloemfontein, Juan Smith was hard as nails and arguably the best player to don the Cheetahs No 7 jersey. He made a combined 65 Currie Cup and Super Rugby appearances, crossing the whitewash 11 times between 2002 and 2011.
Cheetahs cult hero Heinrich Brussow’s poaching prowess more than made up for what he lacked in height. The fearless fetcher racked up an incredible 143 caps for the Cheetahs, scored 34 tries and was a menace at the breakdown, latching onto the ball to get his team out of trouble on countless occasions.
A Cheetahs legend, on and off the field, Rassie Erasmus made telling contributions to the union as a player and coach. Erasmus made a combined 119 appearances at Currie Cup and Super Rugby levels, was a Currie Cup runner-up in 1994 and 1997 and coached the Cheetahs to two Currie Cup titles (2005, 2006).
Some say it’s all in the name, and that was definitely the case with the Cheetahs loosehead colossus, Os du Randt. The World Rugby Hall of Famer anchored the Cheetahs scrum for many years, made 122 appearances and played an integral role in their 2005 Currie Cup-winning campaign. The 1997 SA Rugby Player of the Year was also the Cheetahs scrum coach during the 2009 Currie Cup.
Another player turned coach, Kennedy Tsimba was known as the “King of Bloemfontein” and was a points-machine for the Cheetahs. He became South Africa’s fastest player to score 1000 points in all competitions. He won Vodacom Cup, Currie Cup and Super Rugby titles and was the Free State Sportsman of the Year in 2001 and Currie Cup player of the Year in 2003.
One of the hardest players to grace the game, “Iron Man” Andre Venter is right up there with Juan Smith among the greatest to wear the Cheetahs No 7 jersey. The flanker accumulated 115 caps for the Cheetahs, scored 27 tries and was the 1999 SA Rugby Player of the Year.
Photo: Gallo Images