Updated: Nov 10, 2021
On Saturday when Francois Phillippus Lodewyk Steyn takes to the field against Scotland at Murrayfield, he will set yet another record in the Green & Gold as he becomes the first Springbok with a career spanning more than 15 years. One might imagine a player having been around that long would be quite worn. Someone forgot to tell Frans that though as he snapped up man of the match against Wales on Saturday.
Victor Matfield's career ran for 14 years and 122 days in total, and Frans is already ahead on that score card, he will this weekend, surpass 15 years in the Green and Gold. This is an incredible accomplishment to look back on, the decades of players he has shared the field with. Frans debuted when the likes of Os du Randt, Danie Rossouw and Monty were still around. That seems like a lifetime ago. He was also there when Morne Steyn made his debut against the Lions or when Ricky Januarie won it for us in Dunedin. He was around with Bryan Habana and Schalk Burger and even outlasted the Beast. He truly is a player that has seen it all.
Frans has had an incredible career with the Boks and it is incredibly sad that he has not become the most capped Bok of all time. His exodus under the tenure of Heyneke Meyer and Allister Coetzee scuppered his chances with that. Capped 72 times for the Boks, he has won 55 of those test (76% win rate) scoring 144 points along the way. He boasts a 50/50 record against the All Blacks as well over 12 tests, something very few players have achieved.
"Playing international rugby for 15 years is an extraordinary achievement and what makes this feat more remarkable is that Frans continues to show his class, despite being at the twilight of his career." - Jacques Nienaber.
Starting out at the Sharks in 2006 when he made his Currie Cup debut, it only took a year before he was in Springbok colours in 2007. A product of Grey Bloem, he was always destined to be in the Springbok team, something Jake White knew well. Capped for the 1st time under White at the Springboks, Steyn has also played for his mentor at the Sharks and Montpellier. In 2007 Steyn was included in the World Cup squad and when injury struck, he become an integral part of the starting line up at inside center.
He possesses a rocket on his right leg, giving him the ability to kick 50 - 60m penalties and one would think the new 50 -22 rule was invented solely for Steyn and his big right boot. Although he is a large man for a back, sometimes clocking in at 118kg (currently 106), he has great ball skills and fast feet. It was only this past weekend, at the age of 34 that he managed to side step two Welsh defenders and carry the ball a good 40m upfield. He is equally fierce on defence and one need only ask Damian McKenzie what it feels like to be hit by him.
Possibly the most admirable quality of Steyn however is his passion for not only the game, but for the Springboks. He has won it all, and won it all again. Frans boasts 2 World Cup Trophies, Rugby Championship, British & Irish Lions series win, Top14, Currie Cup and many other titles to his name, yet he still celebrates every moment more than anyone else. Watching him run around like the 19 year old we once knew picking team mates up after the recent win over the All Blacks, or how hard he celebrates the win over Wales is testament to a legend of Springbok rugby.
I truly hope that two years from now, at the end of France 2023, ill be writing about Frans Steyn, the Springbok of 17 years, who won 3 World Cups. Victor Matfield certainly thinks is possible, so only a fool would think otherwise. Either way, if he were to retire tomorrow, he will forever be written into Springbok folklore.