The Springboks 1995 Rugby World Cup-winning squad had many heroes but only one man, Andre Joubert, played the latter stages of the tournament with a broken hand.
By 1995 Joubert was a cult hero at Kings Park and a clear first choice as Springbok fullback. He was ahead of his time in some ways and established the archetype of the modern fullback.
Sevens skills make a great 15
Joubert honed his rugby football skills in the SA Sevens team from 1992 until 1994. Despite making his Springbok debut in 1989 against a World XV at Newlands, Joubert only became regular in the team in 1994. He played all but one of the Springboks Tests in the problematic season before the World Cup heroics.
Capped 34 times for the Springboks, Joubert has always been quick to credit the great mentors he has had. He worked with Ian McIntosh at both the Sharks and the Springboks. The coach with perhaps the most expressive face in rugby oversaw Joubert’s ascension to being the first choice fullback. Kitch Christie is held in high regard by Joubert and many others for the way he changed the job of Springbok coach.
Joubert gave the Springboks an attacking option that was unrivalled in South African rugby at the time. He viewed his role as a fullback as being mandated to turn defence into attack. He was prepared to counterattack when it was on but also possessed a big left boot. His goal-kicking was better than his slim return of 65 kicked points suggests.
The 1995 Rugby World Cup
There was little debate as to who the Springboks first-choice fullback was by the time they lined up against Australia at Ellis Park for the opening match.
Joubert’s influence on the Springbok team spread far beyond the points he scored. The fullback wasn’t able to get onto the scoreboard at the 1995 World Cup, but he was central to the triumph.
The broken hand
In the Springboks quarterfinal against Samoa, the aptly named George Harder, slammed into Joubert breaking his hand. He would have the injury operated on immediately but there were fears that he would miss the rest of the tournament.
Officials were reluctant to allow Joubert to play the semi-final against France wearing a protective glove but eventually relented. Joubert was one of the Springbok stars in the match against the Tricolour in Durban. The game was played out in atrocious conditions, Kings Park had been soaked by torrential rain which seemed like it would favour the French. Joubert was superb at the back though dealing well with the kicking game.
The Rugby World Cup final
Still feeling the effects of his broken hand wild horses couldn’t drag Joubert off the Ellis Park pitch. Joubert played his part in a defensive strategy implemented to nullify the All Blacks awesome attack.
Joubert would not suffer the fate of Mike Catt, who may still bear the treadmarks from when the late great Jonah Lomu stormed over him in the semi-finals. Joubert, James Small and Joost van der Westhuizen nullified Lomu keeping the Boks in the game.
All the Rugby World Cup squads
The staunch defensive display from the Springboks and the calmness of Joubert allowed Joel Stransky to create history with ‘that drop-goal’.
Joubert went on to play for the Springboks until 1997, retiring after a 61-22 thrashing of the Wallabies at Loftus. He won the Currie Cup with the Sharks three times in 1992, 1995 and 1996.
His performance at the 1995 Rugby World Cup would seal his place in World Rugby’s Hall of Fame, and he remains one of Rugby’s all-time greats.