Corné Krige was often bloody, bruised and bandaged; but never bowed. Learn about his life and career with Rugby365, your resident rugby gurus. Click here for more.
Corné Krige Biography
Corné Krige was born in Zambia, where his parents still live, and was schooled in South Africa at Paarl Boys High. He spent the first six years of his life in Zambia.
Krige started playing rugby at the age of nine. He was a natural athlete and was soon into athletics and swimming.
He was clearly a man destined to lead, as he captained his high school First XV as well as every single WP representative side from Under-13 to senior level.
Corné Krige made his Western Province debut in 1996 and eventually went on to captain the side, leading the team to back-to-back Absa Currie Cup titles in 2000 and 2001.
Nicknamed ‘Captain Courageous’ for his ability to play on despite looking like he’d just walked off a battlefield, Krige was famous for his crunching tackles and never-say-die attitude. Early in his career rumours would fly through schoolyards and pubs that he practiced his tackling on buck, such was the ferocity with which he would drive back the opposition.
Corné Krige made his Springbok debut on 19 June 1999 against Italy in Durban aged 24 and captained the side on his debut in the 101-0 victory, but two matches later suffered a serious knee injury against the All Blacks in Dunedin which ended his Rugby World Cup hopes that year. Corné Krige would go on to captain South Africa 18 times in the 39 tests he wore the Green and Gold, including the Rugby World Cup in 2003.
In 2000 he was nominated for SA Rugby Player of the Year and in 2002 he was the Vodacom Rugby Super 12 Player of the Tournament.
After a long and successful career in the Western Cape, Krige moved on to a new challenge with the Northampton Saints in England. Having retired from international rugby at just 28, he was determined to make his mark in England.
When Corné Krige arrived at Northampton, sceptical fans were further angered when the coach Alan Solomons made him the Northampton captain. But through hard work, typical Krige graft and a number of great performances, he won the hearts of the fans. The Northampton players also came to greatly respect him – to such an extent that when Solomons resigned, Krige stepped down as captain only for the players to vote him back in as vice-captain.
Thanks to his many serious injuries over a stop-start career, Corné Krige managed just 19 games in England, retiring from rugby completely at the age of 30. At the time, the Northampton boss John Steele said the club was sad to see Krige go, and that they would miss his “commitment and personable character”.
One of the defining sights of Western Province Rugby in the modern era is that of Corné Krige standing bloody, bruised and bandaged; but never bowed. The former captain was tough as teak and played through tremendous pain to see his team home on many occasions. He was an inspirational leader, a crowd favourite, and still managed to stand out in a vibrant and young Western Province team that included the mesmerising talents of Bob Skinstad, Percy Montgomery, Breyton Paulse, Quinton Davids, Robbie Fleck and a host of other young stars that made up a true Blue and White Dream Team.
Corné Krige returned to Cape Town and set up an outdoor advertising business.