It is with great pride that the South African Rugby Legends Association (SARLA) announces the appointment of retired rugby legend, John Smit, to the SARLA Board. Smit, one of South Africa’s Centurions, is considered by his peers to be a consistent role model and ‘champion’ both on and off the field.
Founded nearly two decades ago, the South African Rugby Legends Association (SARLA) has two primary objectives, that of the development of rugby at a grassroots level and secondly, to ensure the ongoing support of its legends. SARLA’s work, which aims to achieve true transformation within rugby, includes initiatives such as the Carfind.co.za Iqhawe Week, the Vuka Rugby Development Programme and the Legends Cup, in addition to the continuous management and support of our country’s former rugby legends.
Smit, since retiring in 2011, has continued to promote the game both locally and internationally with the integrity and passion that embodies the true spirit of rugby, reflecting the values of SARLA. As Gavin Varejes, President of SARLA, states “John’s ongoing commitment to the promotion of rugby at a grassroots level and growing the game across the world proves his appointment to the SARLA board has significant synergy and the decision is truly a meaningful one.”
John Smit retired from international rugby in 2011 with 111 Test caps. Responsible for many of South Africa’s rugby successes, including leading South Africa to victory in 2007 at the Rugby World Cup and as Captain of the Springboks’ as they secured a series of victories over the British and Irish Lions in addition to the Castle Tri-Nations titles in 2004 and 2009. Smit completed his career having led the Springboks onto the field a total of 83 times.
Smit was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame, whilst still active at a club level, in 2011, alongside other World Cup-winning captains and head coaches from the tournament's inception in 1987 through to 2007. He was given the honors three (3) times in his career as the SA Rugby Young Player of the Year nominee in 1999, the Players’ Player of the Year in 2005 and finally, in 2009, as a SA Rugby Player of the Year nominee.
Reflecting on his appointment to the SARLA Board, Smit, said proudly “As athletes, when our careers come to a close, we dream of leaving a legacy,” adding “My rugby career has been truly rewarding, shaping me into the man I am today and it is my dream to give back in any way that I can.”
Stefan Terblanche, SARLA CEO, proudly stated “John is already contributing so much to the promotion of this amazing game, he is deeply committed to our transformation objectives and we believe that his appointment to the SARLA Board is the start of further great things to come.“