Then and Now: Handré Pollard
SPOTLIGHT: This is South Africa’s new wunderkind.
This young man needs no introduction. Since his days as Paarl Gimnasium captain, Handré Pollard has always been a cut above the rest.
Just after guiding the South African Under-20 team to glory in the IRB Junior World Championship on home soil in June, an 18-year-old Pollard captained his team against rivals Paarl Boys High in 2012.
Describing the interschool clash as “almost as big as one of the World Champs games,” at that time, little did this young man know what gigantic strides he would make in South Africa’s rugby history.
*Article continues below…
Born in Somerset West in Cape Town, Pollard represented Western Province at the Craven Week competitions in 2011 and 2012.
After high school, Pollard moved to Pretoria to join the Blue Bulls in 2013. His first involvement in rugby in Pretoria came for university side UP Tuks during the 2013 Varsity Cup competition.
During the 2013 Varsity Cup season, he was also included in the Blue Bulls side that participated in the 2013 Vodacom Cup competition and made his provincial debut them on March 9, 2013 against Griquas in Kimberley.
The following year Pollard was included in the Bulls’ Super Rugby squad and he made his debut in the first round of the competition against Sharks in Durban.
2014 Certainly treated the then 20-year-old very well. Aside from making his Super Rugby debut, he also captained the Junior Springboks at the Junior World Championship.
His performances at the event earned him the 2014 Young Player of the Year award, beating Nathan Earle, Tevita Li and Garry Ringrose – a clear indication of the flyhalf’s talent.
At the conclusion of the 2014 Junior World Championship, Pollard was called up to the senior Springbok squad for their final match of the 2014 incoming tours series against Scotland. He made his international debut on June 28, 2014 in Port Elizabeth, contributing thirteen points (five conversions and a penalty) to help South Africa convincingly win the match 55–6.
In 2014 Pollard was included in a 30-man squad named by Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer for the 2014 Rugby Championship and at just 21-years-old he represented the Springboks at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The flyhalf’s career was certainly not smooth sailing. In 2016, following a short stint in Japan, Pollard was sidelined for nine months due to a knee injury.
During that time, he also opted to undergo shoulder surgery, but while in recovery, Pollard developed septicaemia in his shoulder – which almost cost him his arm and ended his career.
Fortunately for South Africa, he recovered in 2017 and continued to play an integral part in the country’s rugby.
In 2019, the 26-year-old first-choice flyhalf won the World Cup with the Springboks and has been plying his trade in France with Montpellier.
Compiled by Leezil Hendricks