South Africa are one of only two teams, alongside New Zealand, to have won Rugby World Cup on three occasions.
The Springboks missed the first two tournaments due to their exclusion from international sport, but have more than made up for it since.
As hosts in 1995, they united the country with victory against the All Blacks and then went on to lift the Webb Ellis Cup again, in 2007 and 2019, with England the beaten team on both occasions.
RWC debut: 25 May, 1995 v Australia at Newlands, Cape Town
RWC appearances: Played 43 – Won 36 Drawn 0 Lost 7 – Points for 1,512 Points against 552 – Win ratio 84 per cent
Most RWC appearances: Schalk Burger, 20
Most RWC tries: Bryana Habana, 15
Best finish: Champions 1995, 2007, 2019
Qualification for RWC 2023: RWC 2019 champions
Most memorable match: For sheer drama, the 1995 final against New Zealand eclipses either of the Springboks’ finals against England. With the scores locked at 9-9 at full-time and 12-12 in extra-time, the destiny of the Webb Ellis Cup was still undecided until Joel Stransky received the ball from Joost van der Westhuizen and drop kicked himself and the Springboks into history.
Iconic moment: While the sight of Nelson Mandela presenting the Webb Ellis Cup to Francois Pienaar in the Springbok captain’s number six jersey in 1995 will forever remain the iconic image of Rugby World Cup, Siya Kolisi leading the Springboks to victory in 2019 as the team’s first black captain is right up there, too.
Low point: Ten places and just over 13 points separated the sides in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings when South Africa and Japan met on day two of RWC 2015. Japan had not won a RWC match since 1991, while South Africa were world champions in both 1995 and 2007. Nobody gave the Brave Blossoms a prayer. But the formbook went out the window as the Springboks succumbed to the biggest shock in the tournament’s history, losing 34-32 to a late try from Karne Hesketh.
Iconic player: Chester Williams. Now sadly deceased, Williams became only the third non-white player to play for the Springboks in 1993. Two years later, he was the reluctant poster boy of Rugby World Cup 1995. Injury delayed his involvement at RWC 1995 until the quarter-finals but he made an instant impression with four tries against Samoa and then went on to play a pivotal role in the semi-final and final.
Record-breaker: Anyone who shares a record with Jonah Lomu must be good, very good, and Bryan Habana definitely falls into that category. The lightning-quick winger equalled Lomu’s record of most tournament tries when he completely his hat-trick in a 64-0 win against USA at RWC 2015 to take his overall tally to 15.
Did you know? Jannie de Beer’s ‘nap-hand’ of drop goals against England in the 1999 quarter-finals is a record for a single Rugby World Cup match.
Quote: “I dropped down to my knees just to say a quick prayer and before I realised it, everybody was around me. All the tension of the six weeks, everything that led to the final just came to the fore, it was very, very emotional. I was incredibly proud of the team, proud of that moment and very much proud to be a Springbok rugby player.” – Francois Pienaar, after the Springboks won the RWC 1995 final.