The TOP 14’s World Cup Winners
Pop quiz: What has South Africa’s Cheslin Kolbe achieved that Wilkinson, Habana, Carter and Kaino have failed to do?
All have won both the Rugby World Cup and TOP 14 title but ONLY Kolbe has won both in the same year. Boom boom!
The diminutive back is just one victorious Bok to light up the currently-suspended 2019/20 season. The great François Steyn is in his last campaign at Montpellier where Handré Pollard is playing in his first. The enormous Eben Etzebeth also joined Toulon last year.
So much quality begs the question: Which Springbok is the best of this awesome foursome? Let’s find out.
Cheslin Kolbe is one of the biggest names in rugby right now. His electric pace and fancy footwork also make one of the game’s most exciting players to watch. He burst onto the French rugby scene in 2017 and quickly caught the eye of the Springbok selectors with his performances for Toulouse. His 6 tries from fullback last season helped his team to TOP 14 triumph and he continued to dazzle at the World Cup, scoring 3 tries (including that one in the final).
Fun fact: Kolbe was nominated for 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year.
Eben Etzebeth is also one of the game’s biggest stars. Literally. The second row stands at 6ft 8in and weighs over 120kg. Former England fly-half Stuart Barnes recently included Etzebeth in a list of rugby’s greatest hard men and was frankly brave to rank him only 5th. The not-so-gentle giant is off to a flying start in the TOP 14, having scored 2 tries in his first five games for Toulon.
Fun fact: Etzebeth can bench press 175kg.
Another TOP 14 rookie, Handré Pollard had an incredible World Cup before joining Montpellier. He left Japan as the tournament’s top points scorer (69 pts). He has only featured in 7 TOP 14 matches, but the fly-half has already notched 77 points. Pollard is South Africa’s 3rd highest all-time points scorer. Age just 26, he has both the ability and potential to become a true TOP 14 titan.
Fun fact: Only Jonny Wilkinson has scored more World Cup penalties than Pollard.
Pollard’s fellow Springbok and club teammate François Steyn is a 32-year-old veteran of the international and French domestic rugby scene. 7 years of TOP 14 rugby with stints at Racing 92 (2009-2012) and Montpellier (2016-2020) have yielded 131 league appearances and 292 points. Hopefully, the centre will have the chance to bow out in style before he joins his native Cheetahs in the summer, when the TOP 14 will say goodbye to one of its legends.