Smit confirms Saracens move

2011-07-13 09:15

Durban - Springbok skipper John Smit says he is determined to inspire Saracens to back-to-back Aviva Premiership titles when he joins the English champions at the end of the Rugby World Cup in October on a two-year deal.

In an exclusive interview with Telegraph Sport, Smit, who has captained the Springboks in 76 of his 102 caps, a world record, also confirmed that he is to retire from the international stage at the end of the World Cup to allow him to maximise his impact in the Premiership.

“I am hoping to make it to the World Cup and have a pretty good shout there and that will be me,” said Smit, who missed South Africa’s tour of the UK and Ireland last November after undergoing surgery to a neck injury.

“I have had 11 years with the Boks so I think I have had my fair share and that will allow me to concentrate fully with Saracens, when I link up with them two weeks after my last game (for South Africa), which will hopefully be early part of November.

Smit, 33, says he is looking forward to playing with a number of his former Springbok team-mates at Saracens, such as Deon Carstens, Neil de Kock and Schalk Brits, with whom he will be in competition with for the hooker position.

Smit confirmed his move on Twitter on Wednesday, writing: It's official, I proudly announce today that I'll be joining @saracens once this season is over for 2 seasons & look forward to a new chapter.

Smit will lead a depleted Springbok side in the away leg of the Tri-Nations. The team depart on Friday for matches against Australia in Sydney on July 23 and New Zealand in Wellington on July 30.


  • Anneleen - 2011-07-13 09:23

    The best of luck to John Smit-a gentleman of the sport...

      Rob van den Heuvel - 2011-07-13 09:52

      Agreed. One of our best captains ever, a true leader. JS will do well at Sarries, who knows, I may even enjoy watching Aviva prem next year more than the Super-circus.

      ChrisG - 2011-07-13 10:29

      One of the greatest captains in any sport this country has seen. I'll always be appreciative of the service he's given his country... good luck for the future JS.

      The_Fox - 2011-07-13 10:35

      Well said Anneleen.

      GILLBERT - 2011-07-13 10:46

      haha anneleen jy se altyd die nicete goed ;)

      Ingletor - 2011-07-13 10:50

      I can't agree more - difficult shoes to fill. Thanks for all the good times John, will never forget us beating Aus in the 3N final and of course RWC2007 and the win at Carisbrook - some of the best games of my life.

      Jack Hammer - 2011-07-13 12:07

      Respect must be given to this man, if you have ever put on a pair of Rugby boots you will know how much players respect their Captain. Especially John. Funny have you heard one player say that the don't agree with the situation of taking John Smit. No!!! These are the people that count, not us couch potatoes sitting at home.

      Marcell - 2011-07-13 12:43

      As always somebody else will take over the role of captain. One thing is for sure. Suck up to the coach if you want to be remembered.

      Shazred - 2011-07-13 15:56

      Hey Anneleen, how you doing... I couldn't agree with you more... To put it plainly. Smitty, you Rock...

      Anneleen - 2011-07-13 16:05

      @Shazred...hi there, good to hear from you! Thank you for your comment about John Smit...very well written! Certainly hopes he reads here, for some morale-boosting!!

  • - 2011-07-13 09:35

    People forget what this guy has done for South African Rugby. New Zealand and Australia would give anything to have a captain and hooker like this. Perhaps Rugby comments should be made by people who understand the game and not a bunch of couch supporters.

      WhoSaidWhat - 2011-07-13 10:05

      @ Tsheps16V...... I think you are being a little short sighted in your comment. Perhaps your comment is judged solely on his current form. But do not forget for 1 minute what this player and captain has done for South Africa. He has helped South Africa win a Tr-Nations, The World Cup and a series win over the British and Irish Lions. He is a true champion and we should be proud of him for the glory he has helped bring to SA. Your comment that Richie Mccaw is 100 times better is far fetched to say the least. Richie Mccaw also never had to deal with the stress and pressure of all the political interference and juggling that John has had to deal with as Captain of SA. That being said we should have been grooming a new Captain for this World Cup after 2007 so that we could start with the best possible hooker in 2011.

      p1t2a3 - 2011-07-13 10:23

      Tsheps...first of all, its THEIR and not THERE and secondly, John Smith is just as good a captain as McCaw (by the way, you spelt McCaw wrong as well..dumbass). McCaw might be a player in all round performance terms but he is by no means better leader than John when it comes to captaining their national sides.

      Makutu - 2011-07-13 10:29

      @p1t2a3, you also spelt Smit wrongly. It's not Smith.

      Airborne68 - 2011-07-13 10:29

      Ahem p1t2a3, sorry, but you spelt Smit wrong as well. Just saying.

      The_Fox - 2011-07-13 10:49

      Tsheps16V - what's wrong with Spaza shops?

      Andrew - 2011-07-13 11:47

      Will be a loss but he could be keeping out an even greater captain. Simply on winning percentage there are many captains ahead of John Smit (Tana Umanga, Rueben Thorne, Martin Johnson, John Eales, Will Carling, most of these you would never rate if asked to measure them against John). More importantly Richie is ahead of John winning 16% more games. So no I don't think that NZ will trade Richie for John, not by a long shot. The Aussies would need the upgrade though.

      Allin - 2011-07-13 16:16

      You are 100% right - he HAS done a lot. He's not doing it any more though

      jan du preeaz - 2011-07-13 17:49

      bwaah hhaaaa haaaa, are you serious? bwaa haaa ha, he huff and puffs just by singing the national anthem. come on man, you just say that because obviously you are a sharks supporter. i bet you if news24 has a poll asking should smit even be on the bench 99% will say no.

  • worried - 2011-07-13 09:38

    You served your province and country well. Thanks for the memories and all the best for this new journey! We salute you

      Justin - 2011-07-13 10:30

      Agreed, his time has come indeed. Thanx Johnny boy, you did us proud. Good luck with you new venture. We will miss you, but never forget you.

  • nic - 2011-07-13 09:41

    Give up now please!! We want to win this world cup!!!

      nic - 2011-07-13 09:43

      That is with respect to all that you have done, but we need you to put your country first again!

      trevor - 2011-07-13 10:51

      i agree with you

  • Lulu - 2011-07-13 09:42

    Good luck John. You have done SA proud.

  • Slingervel - 2011-07-13 09:47

    Schalk, your position as 1st choice hooker for Saracens is safe - very safe! You are one of the best hookers in world rugby - let alone the 6 Nations! One just doesn't understand John Smit's mentality. Jake White was right two years ago when he suggested that Smit must retire. He obviously has a very thick skin - thick enough to think that he can lead the Boks in the WB as the 6th best hooker in SA.

      Makutu - 2011-07-13 10:29

      LOL! The truth hurt, doesn't it?

      Mark - 2011-07-13 13:51

      Jy gebruik my naam.

  • Dewet - 2011-07-13 09:48

    We salute the GREATEST Springbok captain of all times. Thank you for the manner in which you played and handled the captaincy. Go and enjoy your stay at saracens.

      haha - 2011-07-13 10:04

      good, but definitely not greatest..

  • jk - 2011-07-13 09:50

    go and sit on the bench john, cause thers no place in the starting 15

  • Bellakanoose - 2011-07-13 09:51

    Oiiii, I think John is great but this stinks of Graham Smith! “I am hoping to make it to the World Cup and have a pretty good shout there and that will be me,” doesn't sound good... where's that win or die attitude John? Think this is a regressive step sadly... with all respect for the dude...

  • fahja - 2011-07-13 09:56

    its so sad to see how some "fans" disrespect one of sa great rugby servants and world rugby leaders. i for one smit thank you and wish you well not only for the wc but for your spell at sararens.

      Makutu - 2011-07-13 10:34

      He is also disrespecting the fans by sticking around for so long and letting us watch his tired legs trying to keep up with youngsters. It's reality, the man has fallen out of favour with his fans. He must go ASAP!

  • Rob van den Heuvel - 2011-07-13 09:59

    Could this year's 3N be the swan song JS needs to silence his critics? Let's hope he, together with the group of young guns and misfits spark and surprise us all, wouldn't that be great...?

  • Jozee - 2011-07-13 10:00

    A year to late!! We beg you, go now please!! Please!!

      The_Fox - 2011-07-13 10:45

      It's mentality like yours that cost us the '99 WC, remember the Teichmann/Skinstadt stuff-up? How can you justify the sacking of the most capped captain just before a WC?

      Marcell - 2011-07-13 12:47

      Simple, when you're not good enough to make the starting 15 then your time is up. Simple!

      Jozee - 2011-07-13 12:52

      At the time Teichmann was still the best captain and the best 8th man in the country with a WR no defeat run, it was only Harry and his politics who got Bobby in there. You obviously don't know your rugby. Mentality - sigh!!

      The_Fox - 2011-07-13 13:45

      Ok Jozee, you know everything. Sorry. But please explain your comment regarding "Harry and his politics"?

      Jeanne - 2011-07-13 13:48

      @Jozee Just amazing how easy you forget about the leadership skills this man's got. Who else will you make captain for the RWC? Matfield is the only experienced captain besides John and Matfield don't know Sh!t about captaining. He just bark at the ref the whole time. You need someone that can motivate and be an example... John is definitaly all of that - even if he's not on the pich!

      The_Fox - 2011-07-13 13:50

      Btw, I happen to know Harry personally and look forward to your insightful "facts".

      Jozee - 2011-07-13 15:38

      @ The-Fox, 1st congratulations on knowing Harry 'personally' that must get yoy into a lot of places around CPT! Harry was never in it for the rugby, he was always trying to play his favourates like all the coaches do. Bobby was never the player/captain that should've lead the team in anyway. with Harry it was always a business deal...

      The_Fox - 2011-07-13 16:57

      You have just confirmed, as suspected, that you know jack. Don't believe everything you read in the Huisgenoot/Farmers Weekly/Local Newspaper or hear on the school grounds or from drunk relatives. So; first finish matric before you decide to tell someone "You obviously don't know your rugby".

  • haha - 2011-07-13 10:01

    They choose their team on merit at the Saracens, so you'll be used to warm the bench...Schalk Brits is way better...

      Richard - 2011-07-13 12:50

      Schalk is way overrated and wouldn't even make the WP B side!!!

      Dewet - 2011-07-13 14:29

      Go and look at the Springbok records since John was made captain. Then you'll see why he is the GREATEST.

  • Martin - 2011-07-13 10:04

    Sorry Smithie, RWC 2011 - a bridge too far...

  • Johann - 2011-07-13 10:10

    Thanks for your years and years of brilliant service John. You will be remembered as the best captain the Boks has ever had. Enjoy England, but go and retain that World Cup first!

  • Theuns - 2011-07-13 10:16

    ok so what then??? he will once again be playing off the bench!!! Schalk Brits IS Saracens for 2 seasons now!!!!!

      The_Fox - 2011-07-13 18:32

      True, Brits has been phenominal.

  • Craig Ronnenbergh - 2011-07-13 10:22

    Good on you Barney!! Go over to the UK and fly the South African flag high and proud!

  • Bulldozer - 2011-07-13 10:25

    As hy klaar is by Saracens en hy is nou regtig heeltemal n hasbeen, dan kan hy WP toe kom waar hy mooi sal inpas.

      Justin - 2011-07-13 10:33

      LOL- yip, all the has-beens are in WP.

      jk - 2011-07-13 10:36

      at least the has beens still play semis and finals...

      The_Fox - 2011-07-13 10:46

      Bulldozer: Is Battery Centre stil vandag?

      trevor - 2011-07-13 11:07

      jk nobody cares who came 2nd 3rd 4th 5th etc we only remember the winner and all we can look back at is the record book

  • rob barrie - 2011-07-13 10:35

    No doubt great player, gentleman and captain BUT believe he should have retired. He contributed more than any other captain before but there is a time to go and I believe it is BEFORE the RWC

      trevor - 2011-07-13 10:57

      you right cause he will go from hero to zero

      johncarlos.biza - 2011-07-13 12:21

      I'm sure he offers a lot to the boys beyond the pitch. It's not all about form you know

  • Lionel - 2011-07-13 10:36

    Saracens must be extremely desperate to sign someone like John Smit. There are quite a few current Springboks that should join him, like the current 23 that are so called injured.

  • Mojojo - 2011-07-13 10:39

    I have lost all respect for him, and will only get it back if he does the right thing and retires before the world cup like Ricky January.

  • thyspelser - 2011-07-13 10:44

    Why wait? Retire now as you have not been playing a full game, in a winning side, against strong oppostion, for the last 2 years. Please do the honarouble thing as Ricky did, and leave before the WC!!!!

  • Allin - 2011-07-13 10:46

    I never thought I would use Ricky Januarie as a good example, but FFS, follow in Ricky's footsteps!

  • Kok - 2011-07-13 10:57

    Jeez!!! The rugby public of SA is disrespectful. John Smit is the best captain SA ever had and won the WC and was all but good in service to this country. Now he gets this kind of rubbish attitude from the same people who praised him for years. I certainly don't want my children to play rugby in such a unappreciative climate.

      Marcell - 2011-07-13 12:49

      Respect doesn't win matches!

      Grey B - 2011-07-13 15:15

      Here's a good Idea Kok, Take your kids and F-off to NZ and let them play in that appreciative "climate"!

  • seansauk - 2011-07-13 11:01

    Pienaar was hailed as a God in '95 yet Smit gets tossed aside by some even though he led in '07 WC,Tri-Nations and Lions victories. Think he deserves a bit more respect and support than he is getting. He is going to captain SA in this world cup so lets get behind the boys. Win or loose let’s support before we criticize.

  • duncan - 2011-07-13 11:20

    Thank heavens for that !

  • roboman1 - 2011-07-13 11:28

    Wow, pity he did this 2 years to late. (and I am a John Smit fan)

  • Antony.Z.Martinez - 2011-07-13 11:53

    too little too late!!!!

  • kosie - 2011-07-13 12:03

    he is a good leader, but glad to see him go, now the sharks can have bismarck starting and burden coming of the bench.... at long last

  • DORK VADER - 2011-07-13 12:32

    Tsheps I am confused ! I thought Gavin Smith was the Captain of the Rugby Team?

  • ai - 2011-07-13 12:49

    It takes a man to recognise a true man like John Smit.

  • maloorsports - 2011-07-13 12:50

    Thanks for all the memories Smittie. We'll miss you. There's one more memory to be made, which has never been achieved before..... Bring back the William Webb Ellis trophy. Back to back titles. That will be the cherry on a great career.

  • Richard - 2011-07-13 12:53

    Ok, a question to all commentators on this article. If John Smit doesn't go to the world cup, who would you have as your captain? Remember, the person you choose has to be respected by the players, be able to take risks and change plans on the field and communicate with the referee in an efficient and non-childish manner.

  • Rob Rabbit - 2011-07-13 13:10

    Stormers discards get John Smit? I wish him well.

  • gazzaz - 2011-07-13 13:13

    Nice "little" payday JS, GOOD LUCK

  • anfield - 2011-07-13 13:18

    Off to the Bok dustbin in the UK. Grabbing a few pounds sterling before he retires. When asked which English team I support, I just ask ' Who are the Saracens playing this week?' A blight on English rugby.

  • Tooguy - 2011-07-13 14:04

    It's too late to drop Jon Smit from the boks now, remember what happened when they dropped teichman just before the WC in England, we got minced. They should have dropped him as captain immediately after the 2007WC

  • sjacksch - 2011-07-13 16:24

    John Smit is still a great captain ! If John had to retire from the bokke now , who would fill his place as captain ? Not Matfield and definitely not Schalk Burger ! I remember a few years back when they dropped Teichman just before the WC , what a f@@k up it was ! Good luck for the future John :)

  • jan du preeaz - 2011-07-13 17:46

    can we start a fund and then pay him to buggeroff now?

  • Ruperdo - 2011-07-13 18:19


  • ghtheman - 2011-07-13 21:55

    The man is a legend, give him the respect he deserves you mugs

  • Doc - 2011-07-14 02:02

    But John you've got it wrong my buddy. SA's last game in the RWC 2011 will be the semi-final against Ireland on October 9th leaving you plenty of time to pack your winter woolies for London. Thanks for all your inspiring leadership over the past 11 years. You'll be sorely missed. All the best.

  • Jacko - 2011-07-14 16:20

    The greatest captain to ever be a captain and a true gentleman, you will be missed Smitty.

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