Rugby World Cup: when Montpellier opened the era of the South African “Langueboks”

Rugby World Cup: when Montpellier opened the era of the South African “Langueboks”

Jake White entre Steyn et Spies, quand les Sudafs étaient en masse. Midi Libre – Max BERULLIER

When Jake White arrived, the club became very South Africanized. To the point of being considered a real Springbok legion.

Montpellier's South Africans since 2015

-Craig Burden (hooker, 2015, 3 matches)

-Demetri Catrakilis (fly-half, 2015-2017 42 matches)

-Bismarck Du Plessis (hooker, 2015-2021 108 matches)

-Jacques Du Plessis (3rd/2nd row, 2015-2021 105 matches)

-Jannie Du Plessis (pillar, 2015-2019, #78 matches)

-Willie Du Plessis (flyhalf, 2017, 10 matches)

-Robert Ebersohn (center, 2013-2016, 54 matches)

-Lizo Gqoboka (pillar, 2019, 4 matches)

-Johan Goosen (back/flyhalf, 2018-2021, 35 matches)

-Ru-Hann Greyling (heel, 2019-2021, 2 matches)

-Henry Immelman (back/winger, 2016-21, 77 matches)

-Johannes Jonker (pillar, 2017-2018, 2020, 11 matches)

-Wiaan Liebenberg (3rd line, 2015-2018, 57 matches)

-Ruan Pienaar (scrum half, 2017-2019, 40 matches)

-Handré Pollard (flyhalf, 2019-2022, 29 matches)

-Cobus Reinach (scrum half, 2019-, 30 matches)

-Robert Rodgers (pillar, 2021-2022, 12 matches)

-Jacobus Roux (pillar, 2015, 3 matches)

-Jan Serfontein (center, 2017- 106 matches)

-Pierre Spies (3rd line, 2016-2017, 34 matches)

-François Steyn (flyhalf, center, fullback, 2016-2020, #102 matches)

-CJ van der Linde (pillar, 2015-2016, 4 matches)

-Duhan van der Merve (winger, 2016-2017, 4 matches)

-Schalk van der Merwe (pillar, 2015-2016, 6 matches)

-Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg (2nd row, 2016-, 107 matches)

-Arno van Wyk (hooker, 2016-2017, 6 matches)

-Paul Willemse (2nd line, 2015, 155 matches)

-Cameron Wright (scrum half, 2015-2017, 14 matches)

On paper, the idea was good, a world champion coach (Jake White crowned in 2007), some of his old grunts (the Du Plessis brothers, François Steyn, Pierre Spies…), all supervising the last fantastic players of the MHR (Ouedraogo and Trinh-Duc). On paper only. Because the graft never completely took.

Under the leadership of White, an army of young Sudafs arrives, who will populate the training center. Among them, successes, like Jacques Du Plessis, others will only pass before finding their fortune elsewhere or falling into anonymity.

Montpellier developed a reputation as a South African legion and a not very affectionate nickname of “Langueboks” (contraction of Springboks and Languedoc). "70% of the group doesn't speak my language and the guys who have been there for two years barely speak two words of French", regretted hooker Charles Géli after the elimination in the play-offs against Racing 92 in 2017.

European Challenge

“Playing in Montauban in front of five people and a dog doesn't interest me,” warned the 2007 world champion coach upon his arrival. Three years later, he would leave with only one European Challenge as his prize (against the English Harlequins in 2016), falling out with part of the public for having spoiled the farewell of “FTD”, and its president (read below).

But behind him, he leaves a mark that is difficult to remove. A policy that has also cost dearly in terms of Montpellier training. The “Langueboks” period will not end with White's departure in June 2017. It will continue for several more seasons, notably with the controversial arrival of Johan Goosen.

But it has also allowed the club to attract world-class players who have certainly made the club grow, who gave it a lost final in 2018, the first step towards the 2022 title.

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