Just before the 2007 Lions tour kicked off Rugby World caught up with the Boks’ centre, chatting about embarrassing moments, his amazing party trick, and being scared of thunder and lighting [he lives in a place where brutal storms are a common occurrence, note the hilarity].
RUGBY WORLD: Are you getting excited about the Lions tour?
JEAN DE VILLIERS: I’m really looking forward to it and so are people in South Africa. It’s going to be fantastic. The whole tour should be awesome. I’ve been injured recently, but I’ll definitely be fit for the Test matches.
RW: Who are the Springboks’ jokers?
JdV: Schalk Burger is right at the top of that list. He’s always up to something. Also, Ricky Januarie and Butch James, although he’s injured at the moment. If something happens those are the guys you look at. They keep us on our toes.
RW: What sort of stuff do they get up to?
JdV: I can’t think of anything right now. When I was in New Zealand with the Stormers recently, though, we had three mini vans to take us to training. I had to get out because I’d forgotten something and they drove away without me. I started walking, but I didn’t know where I was going. Luckily, they came back to get me after ten minutes, but it didn’t make me feel so good.
RW: What are your nicknames?
JdV: Mr Beautiful! No, I’m joking. I don’t really get called anything.
RW: What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen on the pitch?
JdV: I didn’t see this, but I experienced it! In my first practice session for Western Province as a 19-year-old, we were doing a couple of drills. I didn’t know where I was going and the next thing I knew I’d run into one of the poles! It gave the guys a laugh and they all knew me after that.
RW: Have you got any other embarrassing moments?
JdV: Some of the games I’ve played have been quite embarrassing, my on-field performances.
Phobias, his ‘kids’ and a Party trick no one can argue with…
RW: Do you have any phobias?
JdV: I’m scared of snakes. And thunder and lightning. If I see lightning or hear thunder, I’m off the training field. If it happened in a game, my team would be playing with 14 men.
RW: What are your bugbears?
JdV: Standing in a queue is terrible for me. So is people being late. I hate having to wait for people – and then they just laugh about it.
RW: What couldn’t you live without?
JdV: My two dogs. They’re like my kids. I take them everywhere with me. I’ve got two Jack Russells, Lielo and Butchie – he’s named after Butch James because he gets up to mischief! At the moment they’re eating one of my couches!
RW: What would you do if you were president for a day?
JdV: I’d make a week four days and the weekend three days.
RW: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
JdV: That’s a fantastic question. I’d love to be able to fly. I wouldn’t have to sit on a plane and go through customs, so I could take biltong with me. I could just put my bag on my back and go.
RW: Do you have a party trick?
JdV: I sometimes used to drop my pants, but my girlfriend, Marlie, isn’t very happy about that so I haven’t done it the last couple of times. I do think I’ve got a beautiful bum, but not everyone thinks that!
RW: Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?
JdV: Are there cameras in the lift? No, well I’ll definitely go with someone really beautiful. There are so many beautiful women in the world but Jessica Alba comes to mind.
RW: If your house was on fire, what three things would you save?
JdV: My World Cup gold medal – I’ve got that in a safe – and my two dogs. That’s three.
RW: What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?
JdV: One day, to be a good husband to my wife and a good father to my children.
RW: Do you have a favourite joke?
JdV: I’m not very good at jokes. I’m better at sarcasm.
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