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Rugby World Cup: Pieter-Steph du Toit, colossus in the land of strong men

A colossus above the fray.

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Rugby World Cup: Pieter-Steph du Toit, colossus in the land of strong men

A colossus above the fray. In their quest for a fourth global crown, the Springboks were able to count on Pieter-Steph du Toit, author of a major performance in the final against the New Zealanders (12-11). In a locked down, suffocating match, the third row was at the heart of the fight, present in all four corners of the pitch. Cutting through everything that came in front of him, ending up with a mind-blowing total of 28 tackles, only three missed. “It was enormous, I don’t have the words,” greeted his coach Jacques Nienaber. Defense is my field and frankly, it has been exceptional. Like all players, he wanted to win. He even said that even if a plastic bag arrived on the field, he would have chased it away..."

Return to the forefront for the one who was impressive and decisive four years ago in Japan. Logically, he was voted best player in the world. During this edition, he seemed to have lost a little of his dejection but he woke up at the best time. The one who counts. “It’s an honor and a privilege to play for this team,” he said somberly. The last three matches were difficult, we played them all like a final and we won by a point each time (against France, England and New Zealand, Editor's note). We are happy to have won.”

While one of South Africa's great strengths is to carry out extensive coaching early in the second half, the giant flanker (2 m and 115 kg) held out for 80 minutes. Without giving up. The numbers speak for themselves: 27 m gained in 5 races, 2 crossings, a turnover won and two touches gleaned.

Same chorus of praise from his captain and third row teammate, Siya Kolisi: “He has progressed so much. At times, he would pass me by to tackle. He was super motivating. What he can do on the field and what he brings as a leader is crazy. He is often there to motivate the team and his actions always match his words. If the term “resilience” is now used loosely in the world of sport, it applies without hesitation – and concretely – to evoke what the Boks flanker went through.

Also read: Blonde hair, first name, Van der Westhuizen...: 5 things to know about Faf de Klerk, the Springboks scrum half

In 2020, Pieter-Steph du Toit almost lost a leg. He was playing at the time for the Cape Stormers and during a Super Rugby match against the Auckland Blues (NZ), he had to leave the field after being hit in the leg. Very quickly, the staff realized that the injury was much more serious than expected. “He had a hematoma which became acute compartment syndrome,” explained the Stormers doctor. It's incredibly rare, there have only been 43 cases recorded across the world. It's a medical emergency because, if you don't treat it quickly enough, the leg no longer has blood supply and the risk of amputation becomes high.” Under emergency surgery, Du Toit had avoided the worst... And he had only been away from the field for three months.

Since then, he has been exiled to Japan with Toyota Verblitz. Early retirement? This is what one could imagine but he proved this Saturday that he remains one of the most decisive players on the rugby planet. “In our team, we like drama, it helped us move forward and we saw the resilience of the whole team and of all of South Africa,” he emphasizes. And to add on the strength of the South Africans to reverse poorly started situations: “We have been used to this for several years. It's something that helped us, it proves that this team and this country are resilient. This title is for all of South Africa. It's an honor to represent you, to represent the Springboks. I know we are going to be treated to an incredible welcome when we return.” The party may last a few days...

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