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The England ‘South African-Born’ XV

England take on South Africa in a mouth-watering fixture where the home team will be hoping for their first victory over the Springboks in almost a decade.

However, a number of South African-born players have gone on to wear the white jersey and we’ve put together a team of those players and those who could go on to carry the Red Rose.


1) Petrus du Plessis

At the start of Eddie Jones’ reign there was talk of the Saracens prop being called up to the EPS squad, but the Australian elected to go with the exciting talent of Paul Hill. At 35 Du Plessis is unlikely to get the call now, but the reliable Western Cape-born front rower has spent most of his career playing at clubs across the country, including St Helens, Orrell, Sedgley Park, Nottingham and of course, Saracens.


2) Nicholas Labuschagne

Durban-born Labuschagne played for the men in white on five occasions in the 1950s, beating Wales and Scotland and losing out to France and the Welsh, as well drawing with Ireland. A fun factoid for you: Labuschagne is South African fly-half Patrick Lambie’s maternal grandfather.


3) Matt Stevens

Durban-born Stevens played for South Africa at U18 and U19 level before moving to the UK. Stevens’ parents are English-born and his heritage meant he qualified for England U21s. The versatile prop (who could play on both sides of the scrum) went on to accumulate 39 England caps and make both the 2005 and 2013 Lions tours.


4) Mouritz Botha

Former England lock Botha was born in Vryheid in KwaZulu-Natal, and under Stuart Lancaster went on to represent his adopted country on ten occasions. Botha spent three years at Bedford Blues before signing for Saracens. Botha’s famous blonde locks can now be seen on a regular basis at Kingston Park where the second row now plies his trade for Newcastle Falcons.


5) Brian Black

Born in Grahamstown in Eastern Cape, Black made ten appearances for England in the 1930s as well as featuring in all five tests of the 1930 Lions tour to New Zealand. The second rower was also known for his reliable boot and scored six conversions and four penalties on top of two tries for England.


6) Frank Mellish

Flanker Mellish was born in Cape Town and played six times for England as well as earning six caps for his native South Africa in the 1920s. As well as playing in the Five Nations, Mellish featured for the Springboks in their first tour of New Zealand in 1921.


7) Hendre Fourie

Born in Burgersdorp in Eastern Cape, Fourie made a name for himself at Rotherham Titans before signing for Leeds Carnegie. It was here that he came to the attentions of then England manager Martin Johnson. The openside flanker earned eight caps for England before having to retire in 2013 due to a shoulder injury.


8) Dyson Stayt ‘Tug’ Wilson

Tug was born in Wilderness in Western Cape before moving to England at the age of eight. He eventually joined the Metropolitan Police Force and here went on to represent England, playing for the team eight times as well as the Lions on fifteen occasions, although never in a test match.

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9) Nic Groom

Northampton’s recent signing Groom played for South Africa ‘A’ last summer in the two-match series against England Saxons, but with South Africa still nominating the U20s as their ‘second’ team, Groom could still go on to represent England by 2019.


10) Mike Catt

Moving to England after leaving school, Catt’s English mother meant he qualified for the Red Rose and went on to play 75 times in the white jersey. As well as being an integral part of the World Cup-winning squad of 2003, Catt went on to coach his country under Stuart Lancaster as backs coach. In 2016 the Port Elizabeth-born utility back was unveiled as Italy’s new attack coach.


11) Mathew Turner

Turner made 34 appearances for the England Sevens team but also spent two years at Bristol and later Western Province. The Cape Town-born speedster qualified for England through his English mother and quickly established himself as a regular in the sevens team.


12) Brad Barritt

The England centre was born in Durban and qualified for his adopted country through his parentage. Although ignored by Martin Johnson throughout his time in charge, the Saracens centre was a favourite of the Stuart Lancaster era and has so far won 26 caps. Despite this, he has not played for his country since the 2015 Rugby World Cup.


13) Stuart Abbott

Another player born in Cape Town, Abbott’s mother was English and it was his time at Wasps, winning Premiership and European titles whilst at the club. Although Springboks coach Rudolf Straeuli approached Abbott, the centre chose to play for England and was a part of the World Cup-winning squad of 2003. Despite being a fantastic talent, injury meant Abbott was restricted to only nine appearances for England.


14) Geoff Appleford

Appleford qualified for England through his grandparents and won one cap on England’s tour of Argentina in 2002. Appleford was primarily a centre, but there have been virtually no South African-born wingers who have played for England.


15) Michael Horak

Like Appleford, Horak earnt one cap for England on the 2002 tour, with both players establishing themselves as international-quality at London Irish. Horak was born in Johannesburg before signing for Leicester Tigers in 1997. He also featured for the England U21 team.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.