The South Africa national rugby union team (known as the Springboks) represents South Africa in rugby union. They compete in the annual Rugby Championship, along with southern-hemisphere counterparts Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. They have won this championship on three occasions in sixteen years. They are currently ranked second in the world by the International Rugby Board, and were named 2008 World Team of the Year at the Laureus World Sports Awards.
Although South Africa was instrumental in the creation of the Rugby World Cup competition, the Springboks did not compete in the first two World Cups in 1987 and 1991 because of anti-apartheid sporting boycotts of South Africa. The team made its World Cup debut in 1995, when the newly democratic South Africa hosted the tournament. The Springboks then defeated the All Blacks 15–12 in the final, which is now remembered as one of the greatest moments in South Africa's sporting history, and a watershed moment in the post-Apartheid nation-building process. South Africa regained their title as champions 12 years later, when they defeated England 15–6 in the 2007 final. As a result of the 2007 World Cup tournament the Springboks were promoted to first place in the IRB World Rankings, a position they held until July the following year when New Zealand regained the top spot.
The Springboks play in green and gold jerseys, and their emblems are the Springbok and the Protea. The side has been playing international rugby since 1891, when a British Isles side toured the nation, playing South Africa in their first Test on 30 July. South Africa was coached by Jake White, who led the Boks to the 2007 World Cup title, announcing his resignation effectively from the end of 2007. His replacement's (Peter de Villiers) contract expired in 2011, following a 11-9 defeat to Australia in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final, who then stated he would not be signing a new deal. The previous captain was John Smit, who before he retired in 2011 played hooker for most of his career, although he has also been a prop, mainly in 2008 and 2009. Due to Smit being unavailable for the November 2010 Tests after surgery, lock Victor Matfield took Smit's place as captain for that tour.. The current captain is Jean de Villiers.
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