Get the lowdown on the sevens star turned Test No 8

Who is Kwagga Smith: Ten things you should know about the South Africa back-row

A World Cup winner and an Olympic medallist, Kwagga Smith has starred in both the sevens and 15s formats for South Africa. Find out more about the back-rower here.

Ten things you should know about Kwagga Smith

1. He was born Albertus Stephanus Smith on 11 June 1993 in Lydenburg, Mpumalanga, near the border with Swaziland.

2. The nickname ‘Kwagga’ was coined by his elder brother, who only knew animal names when asked by visitors what his baby brother’s name was. A quagga is an extinct species of zebra.

3. Schooled at HTS Middelburg in Mpumlanga, he was selected for the province’s U18 squads in 2010 and 2011.

4. Smith played for the Baby Boks – the national U20 side – at the 2013 Junior World Championship, where South Africa finished third.

5. Between 2013 and 2017, Smith represented the national sevens team, the Blitzboks, on the World Sevens Sevens.

Kwagga Smith

Kwagga Smith scoring against France at the 2016 Rio Olympics (Getty Images)

6. Smith won a gold medal with the South Africa sevens team at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

7. He made his Test debut in 2018, when he featured at blindside against Wales in a 22-20 loss in Washington DC. It was Rassie Erasmus’s first match in charge.

8. After moving to Japan to play for Yamaha Júbilo, Smith learnt the skills required to play at No 8. He’s said: “There isn’t a position in the loose trio that I prefer, I just want the opportunity to be on the field.”

9. He was part of South Africa’s 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning squad, playing in the wins over Canada and Namibia.

10. One of his inspirations is Heinrich Brüssow, who starred against the British & Irish Lions back in 2009.

Smith got his chance to play against the Lions 2021 squad when picked to start at No 8 in the first Test of the series in Cape Town.

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