Cape Town - Three Australian sides and the most successful team of all time stand in the way of the four South African franchises in action in Vodacom Super Rugby, as a number of players celebrate personal milestones this weekend.
First up, in Christchurch, the Cell C Sharks will have their work cut out against the in-form Crusaders on Saturday (09:35 SA time) in what will be a special occasion for the Durbanites’ two Springbok props, Tendai Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis.
Later on Saturday, the Stormers and the Cheetahs have home games against the Force (17:05) and Brumbies (19:10) respectively, and in Cape Town veteran flyhalf Peter Grant will lead his team out.
On Sunday morning, the Lions will aim for their first ever win over the Waratahs when they take on the team from New South Wales in Sydney in their third tour game (08:05)
Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira, who has been anchoring the Sharks’ scrum for the last seven years, will be the first this weekend to reach 100 when the KwaZulu-Natalians take on the Crusaders in Christchurch. He made his debut in Durban on February 9, 2007, when he replaced John Smit late in the match against the Waratahs.
What makes Mtawarira’s 100th Super Rugby cap special, is that he will “share” it with fellow Springbok prop Du Plessis, who will play in his 100th Super Rugby match.
Du Plessis though also played 26 times for the Cheetahs earlier in his career. This weekend he will become the second-most experienced Super Rugby player from South Africa as he passes former team-mates Smit and AJ Venter, who both played 125 times at this level.
Following hot on Mtawarira’s heels, Stormers flyhalf Peter Grant will run out for his 100th Super Rugby match at Newlands when they host the Force on Saturday afternoon.
Grant made his debut at this level in the opening round in 2006, on February 11, against the Lions (then still called the Cats) in Johannesburg. He is eighth on the list of all-time Super Rugby points scorers, with 852 points, and the second South African behind Morné Steyn (1 431 points).
Dan Carter of the Crusaders tops this list with 1 547 Super Rugby points, with Steyn second and Stirling Mortlock (Brumbies and Rebels) third on 1 036. They are the only players with more than 1 000 points in the competition. Grant needs six points to move past Stephen Donald into the seventh position on the list.
Victor Matfield, whose Bulls have a bye this weekend, captained the team from Pretoria for the 79th time last weekend, which has put him equal with Nathan Sharpe’s record for the most times as captain of one team.
Matfield needs three more appearances as skipper to overtake Sharpe as most experienced Super Rugby captain ever.The full list of South African Super Rugby centurions (players still in action in bold):135: Victor Matfield (Cats 8, Bulls 127)
125: AJ Venter (Cats 19, Sharks 96, Stormers 10), John Smit (Sharks), Jannie du Plessis (Cheetahs 26, Sharks 99)
123: Morné Steyn (Bulls)
122: Stefan Terblanche (Sharks)
118: Bryan Habana (Bulls 61, Stormers 57)
116: Danie Rossouw (Bulls)114: Jacques Botes (Sharks)
113: Pedrie Wannenburg (Bulls), Adi Jacobs (Bulls 21, Cats 4, Sharks 88), Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks)
112: Fourie du Preez (Bulls), Odwa Ndungane (Bulls 10, Sharks 102)
110: Wynand Olivier (Bulls),
108: Ollie le Roux (Natal 24, Sharks 60, Cats 3, Cheetahs 21), Meyer Bosman (Cheetahs 61, Sharks 47)105: Akona Ndungane (Bulls), JP Pietersen (Sharks), Jean de Villiers (Stormers)
104: Andries Bekker (Stormers), Jano Vermaak (Cats 11, Lions 62, Bulls 31), Werner Kruger (Bulls)103: Pierre Spies (Bulls)
102: Albert van den Berg (Cats 7, Sharks 95), Keegan Daniel (Sharks)101: Adriaan Strauss (Bulls 8, Cheetahs 93)
100: Bakkies Botha (Bulls)*99: Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Peter Grant (Stormers)