French Rugby boss and World Rugby vice-chairman Bernard Laporte has revealed Springbok lock Bakkies Botha is the greatest player he has had the privilege to work with throughout his career.
The World Cup-winning Bok lock joined mega French club Toulon in 2011, at the same time when Laporte was appointed as the club’s new coach.
Botha departed in 2015 and Laporte left the job in 2016, but before their respective exits, they won three consecutive European Champions Cup titles in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and clinched the French Top 14 title in 2014.
When asked about his time at Toulon in a recent interview, Laporte spoke fondly of Botha.
‘Bakkies Botha is the greatest player I have coached in my career. Of course difficult to compare because Jonny Wilkinson was excellent, Matt Giteau was monstrous, but Bakkies was so strong physically,’ Laporte said. ‘And I would have liked so much to be like him on the field to scare everyone and smash everyone. As a player, I’d say Bakkies Botha was my idol.’
‘He arrived in Toulon at the same time as me. At the time of his departure from the club, he called to tell me he wanted to see me. He shook my hand when we met and told me he didn’t know if we were going to meet again, but he wanted to tell me that I had been the best coach he had ever had.
‘I was crying! I wondered how a guy like him, with 90 caps for the Springboks and someone who has seen it all and who was a world champion can tell me that. I still have tears in my eyes when of I think of that moment.’
After the publication of Laporte’s interview, Botha responded to his former boss’ comments via a tweet saying: ‘An incredible time with legendary players and supporters and a team that changed history forever and brought hope and smiles to all supporters and people all over the world.’
Un temps incroyable avec des joueurs et des supporters légendaires et une équipe qui a changé l’histoire à jamais et a apporté l’espoir et le sourire à tous les supporters et les gens partout dans le monde.🔴⚫️🔴⚫️🔴⚫️🔴⚫️ @rugbytoulon_ https://t.co/OdJrOIVANO
— Bakkies Botha (@BakkiesBotha4) April 2, 2021
Photo: Getty Images