SA Rugby magazine looks back at the stories of South African World Cup-winning fullbacks, each of whom played through injury in their respective finals.
Willie Le Roux – Shoulder injury
In South Africa’s quarter-final match against Japan in the 2019 Rugby World Cup, fullback Willie Le Roux suffered a shoulder injury after colliding with teammate Pieter-Steph du Toit.
Le Roux said that for the rest of the match he could not feel his right arm. The brave fullback fronted an abrasive Welsh side in the semi-final despite not having recovered from his injury. When it came time for the final Le Roux asked the Springbok coaches whether they wanted to drop him as he feared that his continuing injury might result in him costing his side.
The Springbok coaches, however, believed in their man and despite Le Roux’s injury he put on an impressive display when it mattered and was crucial to the Springboks’ eventual victory.
Andre Joubert – Broken Hand
Joubert, known as the ‘Rolls Royce of fullbacks’, is perhaps the most famous South African to have played through an injury. After breaking his hand in the Boks’ 1995 quarter-final against Western Samoa, Joubert was expected to be out for some time. The fullback immediately underwent surgery and spent time in an oxygen chamber in a bid to be ready for the final (if the Boks made it that far).
With his broken hand barely recovered, and strapped in a makeshift cast, Joubert returned for the Springboks to face the old enemy New Zealand in the 1995 final. The fullback produced a memorable performance and looked assured in both attack and defence. His heroics helped inspire the Boks to their maiden World Cup victory.
Percy Montgomery – Knee Injury
Rounding out the trio of South African fullbacks who played through injuries in a World Cup final is Percy Montgomery. South Africa’s leading points scorer had to contend with an injury to his knee suffered early in the 2007 final against England.
Despite damaging his ligaments, Montgomerie managed to maintain his deadly record in front of the posts and scored 12 points from his four kicks at goal. The brave fullback, derided as a ‘Disney Prince’ by the British media, made sure it was a fairytale ending for the Springboks in the 2007 Rugby World Cup.