Gert Smal

Gert Smal was prolific a coach as a player. Learn about his life and career with Rugby365, your resident rugby gurus. Click here for more.

Gert Smal Biography

Gert Smal is a former Springbok whose coaching CV far exceeds that of his playing one. 

He was an uncompromising flanker for Western Transvaal, Western Province and the Springboks in the 80s.

He is the only man to have won the Currie Cup as a player, coach and director of rugby. He was also an assistant coach when the Springboks won the 2004 Tri-Nations and 2007 Rugby World Cup, and served as Ireland’s forwards coach when they won a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2009.

Gert Smal was born in 1961 in Kimberley in the Free State and attended Hoerskool Kroonstad.

It was his rugby prowess rather than any family money that got him sports bursaries to college. First that took him to Potchefstroom to study Science.

This is where he first made his provincial debut, for the former Western Transvaal (now Leopards) from 1980 to 1983. 

He then moved to the University of Stellenbosch where he enrolled in Engineering while also continuing his rugby career, representing Maties in 1984 and 1985.

After the appointment of former Springbok coach Nelie Smith for the Italian club Rovigo, Gert Smal moved there in 1986, soon becoming an integral of the team that won two national titles (1988 and 1990), alongside fellow South Africans Naas Botha and Tito Lupine.    

Due to the sanctions against South Africa Gert Smal had a limited number of Springbok caps. He captained the South African Gazelles, an U24 side, in 1984 and made his debut in the Green and Gold against the touring New Zealand Cavaliers side in 1986. Gert Smal also turned out against a World Invitation XV in 1989 and in a Serge Blanco World XV team against France. Not a lot to show for a powerful back-row forward at the peak of his powers.

In 1993, during a tour with Western Province to Australasia, Gert Smal received a blow in the mouth causing him to lose vision in the bottom corner of his left eye forcing his retirement from playing.

Following the end of his playing career, Gert Smal started his pursuit as a coach, starting out at the Border Bulldogs from 1998-'99. He then moved to his old stomping ground at Western Province from 2000-2002 when they won the Currie Cup twice. In this time he also coached the Stormers in the Super 12 between 2003 and 2005, reaching the semi-finals in 2004.

Gert Smal also served as the Springbok assistant coach between 2003 and 2007, while he held down the same role with the Ireland national team from 2008 to 2013.

During his time with the Springboks, Smal helped the national side to a Tri-Nations (now The Rugby Championship) title in 2004 and a Rugby World Cup triumph in 2007.

As part of the Ireland coaching set-up, Smal played an integral part in their 2009 Six Nations, Grand Slam and Triple Crown triumphs, while he also helped mastermind a 15-10 win over the Boks in Dublin later that year.

In 2014 he was appointed as the Director of Coaching at Western Province and held this position until 2019.