List: Springbok troublemakers over the years — who are they and where are they now?

Numerous Springbok stars have seen their careers plummet due to their rebellious streaks and tendencies toward misconduct.

South Africa boasts a rich history of rugby, with 933 Test internationals since 1891, naturally leading to a fair share of so-called ‘bad boys’ among them.

Although it’s nearly impossible to document them all given the extensive history of the Springboks, here are some notable figures who have gained notoriety for their off-field behavior while excelling on the field.


Elton Jantjies:

Throughout his tenure, Jantjies has been a divisive figure, yet he enjoyed a lengthy 10-year international career, amassing 46 Tests between the ages of 22 and 32.

However, as his time representing the Springboks waned, Jantjies’ off-field conduct became increasingly erratic and irresponsible. In May 2022, he was arrested at OR Tambo airport for assaulting an air hostess during a flight.

Later that year, he was dropped from the squad after engaging in an extramarital affair with the team’s dietician, leading to the dissolution of his marriage and the loss of a lucrative contract with a Japanese rugby club.

Jantjies’ downward spiral continued with another extramarital affair, culminating in accusations of domestic violence. His career hit a final blow at the start of this year when he received a ban from all forms of rugby for using banned substances.

The 33-year-old is currently in South Africa, working as a kicking and attack coach with various schools through the Rugga School coaching academy.

While not the first Springbok to stir controversy, Elton Jantjies will be remembered as one of the most infamous.

James Small (1969-2019):

James Terrence Small passed away from cardiac arrest at The Harem strip club in Johannesburg, epitomizing the quintessential Springbok bad boy.

Small was part of the historic 1992 Springbok team that faced the All Blacks at Ellis Park and played a crucial role in the 1995 World Cup victory.

Known for his combative nature both on and off the field, Small was the first Springbok since readmission to be red-carded in a Test match for dissent against Australia in 1993.

Small’s life extended beyond rugby, involving modeling, various businesses, substance abuse, and a colorful social life. Despite his tumultuous lifestyle, Small remained unapologetically true to himself, embracing both his rugby prowess and his personal struggles.

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