Super Rugby Legends - Scrumming down with Victor Matfield

Super Rugby Legends - Scrumming down with Victor Matfield

In this second in a series of five Super Rugby features, Trevor Cramer discovers that former Springbok and Bulls lock Victor Matfield believes that the Bulls side between 2007 and 2010 were the greatest team in the world at the time.  

Victor Matfield
Photo: ESPN

He has played for and captained the Springboks as well as the Bulls and Blue Bulls in both Currie Cup and Super Rugby.

A little more timid than his 'blood brother' perhaps, but still to this day the bearded giant Victor Matfield is considered to have been one of the finest locks in world rugby along with his former Bok and Bulls teammate Bakkies Botha.

Having made his international debut in 2001 against Italy, it only got better from there and within just four years, he had already made the International Rugby Board (now known as World Rugby) Player of the Year shortlist.

Polokwane-raised Matfield could have also chosen cricket or swimming as his preferred sport from a young age, but went on to become one of the great products to emerge off the production line of the much spoken-about Blue Bulls lock factory.

Little did he know back then that he would become part of a super generation of Bulls and Springbok rugby.

Three Currie Cup finals, three Super Rugby titles, part of a two-time Tri-Nations championship-winning Springbok team and a World Cup-winners medal in 2007 attest to that.

Victor Matfield
Photo; Gallo Images

Understandably he has very few regrets after finally calling time on his playing career in 2016 just short of his 39th birthday after making a final appearance for the English Premier League club Northampton.

Over and above his post-rugby business interests, Matfield has made a relatively smooth transition from player to analyst with the country's biggest pay-tv network.

Despite being part of a Bok squad to have captured the biggest prize in the sport -- the William Webb Ellis Cup -- 2009 still stands out for him as the greatest year in his career.

That year the rampant Bulls outfit captured the Super Rugby title by a record victory margin in a final -- a 61-17 mauling of the Chiefs at Loftus Versveld. It was a year in which South African rugby teams swept all before them. 

The Boks beat the British and Irish Lions, won the Tri-Nations and Matfield was also part of a Currie Cup-winning Blue Bulls team that year.

In fact, Matfield unashamedly proclaims that that across all levels of the game, between 2007 and 2010, the Bulls were the 'best rugby players in the world'.


He also takes us back on one of the great unifying fortnights in our often fractured South African sporting landscape - when the Bulls took Super Rugby to Soweto in 2010 while Loftus Versveld was being revamped for the FIFA World Cup in South Africa that year. 

No rugby player has played more in the Green and Gold than Matfield, with 127 appearances for the Boks and he holds the distinction, like his former Bulls and Bok teammate Fourie du Preez, of having played in three Rugby World Cups. He is also the oldest player to have captained the Springboks.

Like most South Africans right now, Matfield is also grappling for answers to the Springboks' woes and how they hope to recover from a nightmare first year under coach Allister Coetzee.

Matfield has faith in the new-look management team, which includes Brendan Venter and Franco Smith, but is quick to caution that the desired results will only be accomplished with an all-inclusive 'mutual coaching strategy' and 'shared targets'.

Matfield also shares his views on the perceived player 'bleed' from South African rugby, his most formidable opponents, the balance between family life and rugby and advice to young players on  life after rugby.

ALSO LISTEN: Super Rugby Legends - Scrumming down with Fourie du Preez 

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