André Joubert is regarded as one of the greatest fullbacks of all-time. The ‘Rolls-Royce’ of fullbacks had it all – he was rock solid under the highball and hardly ever found out of position at the back due to his superb ability to read the game. Defensively sound, South African players and supporters alike never panicked when ‘Juba’ faced a one on one situation on defence.
His punishing left boot and elusive counter attack running made him a dangerous and unpredictable ball player who had opposing teams constantly guessing as to what he will come up with next. Joubert was entrusted with the place kicking duties on a number of occasions despite being a tad inconsistent in that department and ultimately contributed 64 points with the boot.
Joubert’s trademarks, however, were his brilliant grubber kicks and the silky way in which he joined the backline on attack. The former won many a metres for the Springboks while the latter, as ‘Juba’ came into the line on full speed and sliced through the opposition’s backs, produced some of the greatest, textbook fullback tries in history.
Joubert made his international debut against the World XV in Cape Town on August 26, 1989, a match South Africa won 20-19. That year he received his first of five nominations for the prestigious SA Player of the Year award. Joubert’s second international would only come almost four years to the day after his first when the Springboks suffered a 19-12 defeat at the hands of the Wallabies.
He remained in the national side and was selected as first choice No 15 for the Springboks’ 1995 World Cup squad. His calming presence at the back helped South Africa to a crucial 27-18 victory over the defending champion Wallabies which led to a quarter-final showdown against Samoa.
The Boks eased to a 42-14 win but Joubert, in creating one of Chester Williams’ four tries, suffered a broken hand when he was hit late by George Harder. Such was his passion for and dedication to the Green and Gold that he underwent surgery that same night and spent time in a decompression chamber.
Heroically, wearing a personalised hand brace, Joubert ran onto the field with the rest of the starting line-up for the do-or-die semi-final clash against France in Durban. In arguably the most atrocious and testing conditions in World Cup history, Joubert fearlessly put his body on the line as he fielded a barrage of nightmarish highballs.
The Boks narrowly saw off the French to advance to the final where they would come up against New Zealand and their giant winger Jonah Lomu. Joubert and Co did the seemingly impossible when they neutralised the monstrous 1.96m, 115kg flyer and defeated the All Blacks 15-12 to be crowned World Cup champions.
Joubert enjoyed another terrific season the following year, which included a two try, Man of the Match performance in the Sharks’ 33-15 victory over the Lions in the Currie Cup final and was deservedly named SA Player of the Year before he retired from international rugby after the 61-22 pasting of Australia at Loftus Versfeld on August 23, 1997.
‘Juba’ played two more seasons for the Sharks and made his final appearance in the 1999 Currie Cup final against the Lions, a match that also marked the end of the careers of Gary Teichmann and coach Ian McIntosh. Unfortunately, it was a sad farewell for the legendary trio as the visiting Lions secured a convincing 32-9 victory.
Records/Honours:SA Young Player of the Year nominee, 1988SA Player of the Year nominee, 1989, 1991, 1994 & 1995Member of the World Cup winning Springbok squad, 1995Currie Cup winner with the Sharks, 1996SA Player of the Year, 1996