In a feature from SA Rugby magazine, DYLAN JACK caught up with former Springbok, Sharks, Ulster and Munster prop BJ Botha.
Regarded as one of the world’s strongest scrummagers, BJ Botha was part of the Springboks’ 2007 World Cup-winning squad.
Having made his Test debut against the All Blacks in 2006 under Jake White, Botha played in all four of the pool games, starting in the memorable 36-0 victory over England, who the Boks would again meet in the final. Unfortunately, he picked up an injury in the Boks’ final pool match against the USA, which ruled him out of the rest of the tournament.
Schooled at Kloof High School and DHS, Botha spent most of his career with the Sharks, starting there in 2001 under Rudolf Straeuli. He played for them for eight years, helping them to the Super Rugby final in 2007, before moving to Ulster in 2008.
‘Having grown up as a proper Durban boy, it was a bit of a culture shock when I first got to Ireland,’ Botha says.
However, he quickly took to life in Belfast during the club’s renewal in the 2010-11 season, where they reached the Heineken Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 1999. After three seasons with Ulster, Botha decided to move on to Irish rivals Munster, where he became a bit of a cult hero, making over 100 appearances for the club.
‘I really enjoyed my time with Ulster and Munster. There is a real connection between the fans and the players in Ireland,’ Botha says.
Despite not winning a trophy with Munster, Botha was nevertheless part of the side that finished as Pro12 runners-up in the 2014-15 season.
However, the following season he ruptured his ACL during a European Cup match against Stade Français. Botha maintains that although it was big injury, there was no real concern over his career, but he left Munster at the end of that season. He moved to France where he had stints with Lyon in the Top 14 and Biarritz in the French ProD2.
Botha called time on his career in 2018.
Life After Rugby
Botha is involved in the managing and distribution of ‘Shadow Ball’, a specifically-designed rugby ball to assist with passing and catching accuracy. He has also set up a scrum consultancy/mentoring programme, called ‘Tight Five consultants’, mainly aimed at mentoring front-row players making the transition from schools rugby, but also working with schools wanting to refine their scrum technique. He is also studying towards a BSc in strength and conditioning.
While he is still based in Ireland, Botha says he would love to return to South Africa someday and be involved in schools rugby coaching.
He also has an interest in cattle farming with a business partner, running an Nguni stud and commercial farm called H&B Holdings in Walkerville, Gauteng.
Domestic | Munster Rugby Coach Development will host a Scrum & Skills Workshop @GarryowenFC next month.
The workshop will be delivered by Technical Skills Development Coach Mike Pettman and former Munster prop BJ Botha.
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) November 19, 2019
Botha is married to Taryn and they have two sons and three daughters. His eldest son is Owen and the youngest is Boden, while his daughters are Ava, Sydney and Lexi. Botha says his children have picked up a sporting interest, with Ava excelling at horse riding, but adds that although he would love his boys to play rugby he will support them in whatever career they wish to pursue.
Photo: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP via Getty Images