Find out more about the Springboks’ ‘enforcer’
Who is Eben Etzebeth: Ten things you should know about the South Africa lock
Eben Etzebeth is seen as the Springboks’ ‘enforcer’, with the second-row famed for his physicality.
He has played club rugby in South Africa, Japan and France – and here are some more facts about him.
Ten things you should know about Eben Etzebeth
1. Eben Etzebeth was born in Cape Town on 29 October 1991 and attended Hoërskool Tygerberg, an Afrikaans co-educational high school in Parow.
2. Etzebeth may be 6ft 8in and more than 19st (2.03m/123kg) now but he did not dominate rugby in his early school days, leaving his growing until later in his teens.
At U14 to U16 level he played B-team rugby in the backs but sprinted for Northern Suburbs Schools and was a useful high jumper – a handy background for lineouts.
3. By the time he had made Grade 11 in school, Etzebeth was more the size of the man we know now and played at Craven Week for Western Province and for South Africa U18 against France and Namibia, in a squad that included Siya Kolisi.
He also played for South Africa U20 at the Junior World Cup in 2011.
4. Etzebeth lived at the Western Province Rugby Institute in Stellenbosch as a young player. The 2010 intake included Siya Kolisi, Frans Malherbe and Nizaam Carr. That vintage won the U19 Currie Cup for Western Province.
5. Etzebeth made his Test debut for the Springboks against England in Durban in 2012. South Africa won 22-17, with flanker Marcel Coetzee, lock Juandre Kruger and prop Coenie Oosthuizen also making their Test debuts.
England’s Joe Marler made his first Test appearance in the same match.
6. In 2016, Etzebeth became the youngest player to play 50 Tests for the Springboks in the game against Australia at Brisbane. He was 24 and it was his 27th consecutive game for South Africa.
7. The lock was voted South African Young Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013, and was nominated for World Player of the Year in 2013 when the award was won by New Zealand’s Kieran Read.
Other nominees were Italy No 8 Sergio Parisse, Wales’ Leigh Halfpenny and New Zealand full-back Ben Smith.
8. Etzebeth’s biceps have a circumference of 19 inches… 48.26cm.
9. Etzebeth became the 59th player to captain the Springboks in a Test match when he led the side in the match against France at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, on 24 June 2017. South Africa won the game 35-12.
10. Etzebeth joined Toulon in 2019 after the Rugby World Cup triumph.
The start of that RWC 2019 campaign was overshadowed by accusations of assault and racism in a bar in Langebaan, in the Western Cape.
There were calls for the second-row to be sent home from Japan but he strongly denied the allegations. He was found not guilty in 2020 by an internal SA Rugby investigation.
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