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Who is Faf de Klerk: Ten things you should know about the South Africa scrum-half

Faf de Klerk has been tearing up for Sale Sharks in the Gallagher Premiership since 2017 and was a key factor in South Africa’s 2019 Rugby World Cup triumph.

Here are a few facts and figures about the scrum-half.

Ten things you should know about Faf de Klerk

1. De Klerk was born on 19 October 1991 in Nelspruit, a city in the north-east of South Africa close to the borders with Mozambique and Eswatini.

Springboks No 8 Duane Vermeulen also hails from the city, which is known as Mbombela too.

2. Despite every rugby fan knowing him as ‘Faf’, his first name is actually François. Faf is a common Afrikaans abbreviation for the name.

3. He might have settled at scrum-half, but de Klerk played at ten while in high school. He’s said that his boot was his biggest weapon at that age – and the impact on his box-kicking now is self-evident!

4. At only 5ft 7in and 80kg (12st 8lb), de Klerk is usually always one of the smallest players on the field – he is even half an inch smaller than Springbok team-mate Cheslin Kolbe. However, he does not shy away from the physical aspects of the game.

Faf de Klerk

Faf de Klerk sprinting clear for the Lions against the Sunwolves (Getty Images)

5. The beginning of his professional career brought disappointment, as he missed out on a contract with the Bulls and instead went to the University of Johannesburg on a scholarship.

However, in 2014 he broke into Super Rugby with the Lions, winning Man of the Match in only his second appearance.

6. De Klerk made his South Africa debut against Ireland in June 2016, starting all three Tests at No 9 as the Boks won the series 2-1.

However, that year was an annus horribilis for the Springboks. South Africa lost eight games, including a humiliating 20-18 defeat to Italy. De Klerk was also sin-binned against Wales in the final match of the European tour for a deliberate knock-on.

7. His childhood hero was Springbok legend Joost van der Westhuizen, whose physical and aggressive approach is mimicked by Faf’s own play. Both won Rugby World Cups with the national side.

8. Rassie Erasmus’s appointment as Springboks coach saw the scrum-half recalled to the national team after an 18-month absence in 2018. He scored a try in his first Test back, South Africa’s 42-39 comeback win over England that June.


9. He told the BBC that his father emails Sale’s press office to get footage of each of his son’s games because it’s difficult to watch every Gallagher Premiership match in South Africa.

10. De Klerk was one of the 27 Sale players and staff who tested positive for coronavirus at the end of the 2019-20 season.

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