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Bakkies Botha Biography
Bakkies Botha may be one of the hardest men rugby has ever seen. Known as one of the best enforcers of all time, Botha was a key figure in the Springboks' many years of success.
John Phillip Botha was born on 22 September 1979 in Newcastle and matriculated at Vereeniging Technical High School in the Vaal Triangle. The 2.02 meter lock started his provincial career with the Falcons Rugby Union and was quickly snatched up by the Blue Bulls. And thus started a long-standing lock pairing with Victor Matfield until Botha's retirement in 2015.
Bakkies Botha's robust and confrontational style of play resulted in countless controversial incidents that included not only yellow and red cards, but also being banned from international games. The Bok stalwart was infamous for his physicality, notoriously short tempered and known the world over as the Springboks’ enforcer.
With Bakkies Botha you had to take the good with the bad, as the occasional head-butt and resulting red card showed it was difficult for him to contain his passion and power for rugby. But you knew the man meant business. The psychological impact of such a player was undeniable. He represented the Bulls between 2002 and 2011, winning three Super Rugby titles with the Pretoria franchise before moving to France where he played for Toulon where he won three European Champions Cup titles and one Top 14 crown.
By all accounts, Bakkies Botha was a consummate professional and a gentle giant off the field. He was also a decorated player on the field, showing he wasn’t merely a brawler, but highly-skilled. There may never be another one quite like him.
French Rugby boss and World Rugby vice-chairman Bernard Laporte called the Springbok lock the greatest player he ever had the privilege to work with throughout his career.
The World Cup-winning Bakkies Botha joined mega French club Toulon in 2011, at the same time when Laporte was appointed as the club’s new coach.
Bakkie Botha retired from all rugby in 2015 after bowing out of the Test scene in November 2014, and established a butcher business while he is also involved in farming.
And despite the very many aggressive encounters he had on the field, he ended his international career as one of the most recognizable and memorable players to ever wear the green and gold of the Springboks.