Handré Pollard (born 11 March 1994) is a South African professional rugby union player who currently plays for the South Africa national team and Leicester Tigers in England's Premiership Rugby.[1] His regular playing positions are fly-half, where he started for South Africa in their 2019 Rugby World Cup Final win, and inside-centre. He has previously played for the Bulls and Blue Bulls in his native South Africa, Osaka Red Hurricanes in Japan and Montpellier in France. He is one of 43 players who have won the Rugby World Cup on multiple occasions, 24 of whom are South Africans.

Handré Pollard
Pollard kicking a conversion at the 2015 Rugby World Cup
Date of birth (1994-03-11) 11 March 1994 (age 29)
Place of birthSomerset West, Cape Town, South Africa
Height189 cm (6 ft 2 in)
Weight98 kg (216 lb; 15 st 6 lb)
SchoolPaarl Gimnasium
UniversityUniversity of Pretoria
Spouse
Marise Malherbe
(m. 2017)
Rugby union career
Position(s) Fly-half / Inside-Centre
Current team Leicester Tigers
Youth career
2007–2011 Western Province
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
2013 UP Tuks 8 (52)
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
2013–2017 Blue Bulls 12 (94)
2014–2019 Bulls 62 (629)
2015–2016 Osaka Red Hurricanes 7 (29)
2017 Blue Bulls XV 1 (6)
2019–2022 Montpellier 29 (175)
2022- Leicester Tigers 26 (242)
Correct as of 4 February 2024
International career
Years Team Apps (Points)
2012–2014 South Africa U20 14 (141)
2012 South Africa Schools 3 (37)
2014– South Africa 69 (698)
2015 Springboks [a] 1 (7)
Correct as of 1 November 2023
Medal record
Rugby union
Representing  South Africa
Rugby World Cup
Bronze medal – third place 2015 England Squad
Gold medal – first place 2019 Japan Squad
Gold medal – first place 2023 France Squad

Rugby career edit

Youth edit

Pollard earned a provincial call-up as early as primary school level, when he was selected in the Western Province squad for the Under-13 Craven Week competition in 2007. He also represented them at the Under-16 Grant Khomo Week in 2010, before playing at the Under-18 Craven Week competitions in 2011 and 2012. He also captained the SA schools under 18 side both in 2011 and 2012.

Professional career edit

Bulls / Blue Bulls / UP edit

2012–13 edit

In July 2012, it was announced that Pollard would make the move to Gauteng to join Pretoria-based team the Blue Bulls at the start of the 2013 season.[3] His first involvement in rugby in Pretoria came for university side UP Tuks during the 2013 Varsity Cup competition.[4] He did not play in the first match of the season, but then made three substitute appearances in their next three matches before being selected in the run-on side for their last three matches in the round-robin stage, the semi-final and the final, starting all those matches as inside centre. He was the main kicker for the UP Tuks team and scored 68 points in his side's run to the final, making him the tournament's second-highest points scorer behind UJ's Kobus de Kock.[5] He was also a key player in the final of the competition as he kicked five conversions and a penalty to contribute 17 points in UP Tuks' 44–5 victory as they retained the trophy they won in 2012 Varsity Cup.[6]

During the 2013 Varsity Cup season, Pollard was also included in the Blue Bulls side that participated in the 2013 Vodacom Cup competition. He made his provincial debut for the Blue Bulls on 9 March 2013 against Griquas in Kimberley. He came off the bench in the 62nd minute and scored two late conversions in their 40–32 victory.[7] His first start for the Blue Bulls came after the 2013 Varsity Cup, when he was named in the run-on side for their match against the Eastern Province Kings in the quarter final of the competition. He scored eleven points, but could not prevent his side slipping to a 31–34 defeat.[8]

In June 2013, after signing a contract extension to keep him at the Blue Bulls until 2017,[9] Pollard was also named in their Currie Cup side for the 2013 Currie Cup Premier Division season. He made his Currie Cup debut on 31 August 2013, starting for the Blue Bulls in their match against the Sharks in Durban. Despite getting his first Currie Cup points after just six minutes – converting an Akona Ndungane try – the Blue Bulls suffered a 34–18 defeat in that match.[10] Pollard started a total of six matches in this competition, scoring 62 points to finish as the Blue Bulls' top points scorer in the competition and eighth overall[11] and also made four appearances for the Blue Bulls U21 side in the 2013 Under-21 Provincial Championship, scoring 52 points.

2014 edit

Pollard was included in the Bulls squad for the 2014 Super Rugby season[12] and made his debut in the first round of the competition in a 31–16 defeat to the Sharks in Durban, also scoring his first Super Rugby points by kicking a late conversion.[13][14] Initially used mainly as a substitute, he made his first Super Rugby start during their Round 12 match against South African rivals the Cheetahs. Pollard had an eventful match, being sent to the sin-bin in the first half and contributing ten points with the boot as the Bulls ran out 26–21 winners.[15]

2015 edit

In 2015, Pollard extended his contract with the Blue Bulls until the end of the 2019 season.[16]

NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes Osaka edit

In June 2015, the Blue Bulls announced that Pollard would join Japanese Top League side NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes Osaka on a three-month deal between November 2015 and January 2016 for the 2015–16 Top League season, but would return to the Bulls prior to the 2016 Super Rugby season.[17] This was later confirmed by the Japanese side.[18]

Montpellier edit

 
Pollard playing for Montpellier in 2019

In May 2019, the Blue Bulls confirmed that Pollard would join Top 14 side Montpellier after the 2019 Rugby World Cup, having expressed his desire to continue his playing career in France during discussions about the renewal of his contract.[19] After announcing his departure Pollard continued to feature for Montpellier, eventually featuring from the bench as they won their first ever French championship in a 29–10 win over Castres in the final.

Leicester Tigers edit

In December 2021, Leicester Tigers confirmed they had signed Pollard from Top 14 side Montpellier at the end of the 2021/22 season. Pollard joined Tigers following the departure of George Ford to Sale Sharks.[20] Pollard made his Leicester debut as a replacement on 1 October 2022 in a 51–18 defeat to Saracens.

International career edit

South Africa Schools edit

Pollard was included in a South African Schools side in 2012, where he scored 37 points in three appearances against France,[21] Wales[22] and England.[23]

South Africa Under-20 edit

2012 Junior World Championship edit

Pollard earned a call-up to the South African Under-20 team that won the 2012 IRB Junior World Championship on home soil. Despite not playing in their first match against Ireland,[24] he started their remaining four matches. He kicked five conversions in their match against Italy[25] and four conversions in their match against England to help secure a semi-final berth for South Africa. Three conversions and two penalties followed in their 35–3 semi-final victory over Argentina to see the Baby Boks through to their first ever final against four-time champions New Zealand. Once again, the boot of Pollard was largely responsible for their 22–16 victory in the final as he kicked four penalties and a drop-goal to lift the trophy for South Africa for the first time. Pollard finished as fourth top scorer overall in the competition with 42 points.[26]

2013 Junior World Championship edit

Pollard was included in a training group that toured Argentina in preparation for the 2013 IRB Junior World Championship[27] before being included in the final squad for the 2013 IRB Junior World Championship in France.[28] Playing at inside centre, Pollard's kicking let him down in their 97–0 demolition of the United States in their opening match, scoring a penalty and one conversion out of six attempts before the kicking duties passed to Robert du Preez.[29] He did not kick at all in their match against England,[30] but a switch back to fly-half for their final match against hosts France saw Pollard contribute eleven points with the boot as they won the match 26–19[31] to top their pool and qualify for a semi-final against Wales. Wales scored an 18–17 victory over the defending champions in their semi-final match with Pollard scoring seven points.[32] He rounded off his tournament by kicking a penalty and four conversions in the third-placed play-off match against New Zealand to finish the tournament with 34 points.[33]

2014 Junior World Championship edit

Pollard was included in a South Africa Under-20 squad for the third time for the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship,[34] and also named captain of the side.[35] As first-choice fly-half and kicker, this tournament proved to be Pollard's most prolific. He kicked seven conversions in their 61–5 victory over Scotland in their opening match.[36] Three penalties, two conversions and his first ever try in the Junior World Championships helped South Africa record a 33–24 victory over New Zealand in their second pool match[37] and he kicked three conversions as South Africa clinched their third consecutive semi-final place with a 21–8 victory over Samoa.[38]

They faced New Zealand again in the semi-final and Pollard helped South Africa secure their fourth consecutive victory over the Baby Blacks. He opened the scoring for South Africa with a 20th-minute try and also scored three conversions and two penalties in a 32–25 victory.[39] He scored a further ten points in the final as South Africa lost 20–21 to England to finish runners-up in the competition.[40]

Pollard was also briefly the leading points scorer in the history of the competition.[41] During the semi-final matches, both Pollard (with 131 points) and Argentina's Patricio Fernández broke the record previously held by England's Tom Homer.[42] However, the 26 points scored by Fernández in their 9th-place play-off match against Scotland[43] meant that he became the new record holder with a total of 155 points, with Pollard in second place with 141 points.[44]

Pollard's performances also earned him a nomination for the 2014 Young Player of the Year award, alongside Nathan Earle, Tevita Li and Garry Ringrose.[45] At the conclusion of the tournament, Pollard was announced as the winner of the award.[46]

Senior international rugby edit

At the conclusion of the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship, Pollard was called up to the senior Springbok squad for their final match of the 2014 incoming tours series against Scotland.[47] With Springbok fly-halves Patrick Lambie and Johan Goosen both injured and Morné Steyn withdrawn from the squad by French club side Stade Français,[48] Pollard was named as the starting fly-half for their match against Scotland.[49] He subsequently made his international debut on 28 June 2014 in Port Elizabeth, contributing thirteen points (five conversions and a penalty) to help South Africa convincingly win the match 55–6.[50]

A few weeks later, Pollard was included in a 30-man squad named by Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer for the 2014 Rugby Championship.[51] He was named as the fly-half for the run-on side in their opening match of the competition against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld; within two minutes of making his Rugby Championship debut, he scored his first points in this competition by converting Ruan Pienaar's early try. He also scored a penalty a few minutes later to help the Springboks to a 13–6 victory.[52] He was the starting fly-half in five of the Springboks' six matches during the competition – Morné Steyn starting their match against Australia in Perth – and was a key player in the Springboks' final match of the competition. In particular he scored two tries (his first at international level) and kicked a further nine points as the Springboks beat New Zealand 27–25 in Johannesburg,[53] to help end New Zealand's 22-match unbeaten run dating back almost two years and their first ever defeat in The Rugby Championship competition since its expansion in 2012. He scored a total of 43 points in the competition, in joint second place with Australian Bernard Foley on the point scoring list and nine points behind tournament top scorer, Argentina's Nicolás Sánchez.[54]

A knee ligament injury in February 2016 caused Pollard to miss most of 2016.[55][56]

Pollard was named in South Africa's squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.[57] South Africa went on to win the tournament for the third time, and Pollard was the tournament's leading points scorer. After missing a penalty attempt in the second minute of the final, Pollard thereafter converted six penalty kicks, missed an eighth attempt, but then converted two tries for a personal haul of 22 points.[58] During the final, Pollard sustained a fractured eye socket, and although he played out the game, his subsequent hospitalization forced him to miss the first four days of the team's trophy tour,[59] but was able to join for the final leg of the tour in Cape Town.[60]

At the 2023 Rugby World Cup semi-final, on 21 October 2023, Pollard’s 77th-minute game-winning penalty kick saw South Africa squeeze past England 16-15 and through to the final against New Zealand.[61] One week later, on 28 October, Pollard scored all of the points for South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final against the All Blacks, as he managed to successfully convert four penalty kicks which secured a 11–12 win for the Springboks.[62][63]

Pollard is South Africa's 3rd highest all-time points scorer.[64]

Springbok statistics edit

Test match record edit

Pollard's test match record is as follows:[65]

As of 1 November 2023
Against Pld W D L Tri Con Pen DG Pts % Won
  Argentina 9 7 0 2 2 14 20 0 98 77.78
  Australia 7 2 0 5 0 5 14 0 52 28.57
 British and Irish Lions 3 2 0 1 0 2 11 0 37 66.67
  Canada 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 100
  England 7 4 0 3 0 8 21 0 79 57.14
  France 3 3 0 0 0 4 8 0 32 100
  Georgia 1 1 0 0 0 4 0 0 8 100
  Ireland 2 0 0 2 0 1 1 0 5 0
  Italy 3 3 0 0 0 10 2 0 26 100
  Japan 3 2 0 1 0 4 5 0 23 66.67
  New Zealand 15 5 1 9 2 20 34 3 161 33.33
  Samoa 1 1 0 0 0 1 4 0 14 100
  Scotland 4 4 0 0 1 9 10 1 56 100
Tonga 1 1 0 0 0 4 0 0 8 100
  United States 1 1 0 0 0 4 0 0 8 100
  Wales 8 5 0 3 2 6 22 1 91 62.5
Total 69 42 1 26 7 96 152 5 698 60.87

Pld = Games Played, W = Games Won, D = Games Drawn, L = Games Lost, Tri = Tries Scored, Con = Conversions, Pen = Penalties, DG = Drop Goals, Pts = Points Scored

International tries edit

Try Opposing team Location Venue Competition Date Result
1 & 2   New Zealand Johannesburg, South Africa Ellis Park 2014 Rugby Championship 4 October 2014 Won 27–25
3   Wales Cardiff, Wales Millennium Stadium 2017 end-of-year rugby union internationals 2 December 2017 Lost 24–22
4   Scotland Edinburgh, Scotland Murrayfield 2018 end-of-year rugby union internationals 17 November 2018 Won 20–26
5 & 6   Argentina Salta, Argentina Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena 2019 Rugby Championship 10 August 2019 Won 13-46
7   Wales Cape Town, South Africa Cape Town Stadium Wales Incoming Tour 16 July 2022 Won 30–14

Notes edit

  1. ^ In 2015, the South African national team played a non-test international against a World XV in Cape Town.[1][2]

References edit

  1. ^ a b "SA Rugby Player Profile – Handré Pollard". South African Rugby Union. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  2. ^ South African Rugby Annual 2016. South African Rugby Union. 2016. pp. 124–125. ISBN 978-0-620-69290-8.
  3. ^ Nel, Brenden (2 July 2012). "Pollard signs with Bulls". SuperSport. SuperSport. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  4. ^ "SA Rugby Squad – Tuks : 2013 FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International". South African Rugby Union. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  5. ^ "SA Rugby Top Scorers – 2013 FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International". South African Rugby Union. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  6. ^ "SA Rugby Match Centre – FNB Maties 5–44 FNB UP-Tuks 1". South African Rugby Union. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
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  8. ^ "SA Rugby Match Centre – Vodacom Blue Bulls 31–34 Eastern Province Kings". South African Rugby Union. 4 May 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Young stars extend Bulls stay". Sport24. 20 June 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  10. ^ "SA Rugby Match Centre – The Sharks 34–18 Vodacom Blue Bulls". South African Rugby Union. 31 August 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
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  14. ^ "SA Rugby Match Centre – Cell C Sharks 31–16 Vodacom Bulls". South African Rugby Union. 15 February 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
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  19. ^ Mphahlele, Mahlatse (14 May 2019). "Blue Bulls confirm Pollard's departure to French side Montpellier". TimesLIVE.
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  28. ^ "Steenkamp leads powerful SA U20 JWC squad". South African Rugby Union. 25 April 2013. Archived from the original on 7 June 2016. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
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  38. ^ "SA Rugby Match Centre – Samoa 8–21 South Africa". South African Rugby Union. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  39. ^ "SA Rugby Match Centre – South Africa 32–25 New Zealand". South African Rugby Union. 15 June 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  40. ^ "SA Rugby Match Centre – England 21–20 South Africa". South African Rugby Union. 20 June 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  41. ^ "Pollard se moeë Bokkies pak Engeland in o.20-eindstryd" (in Afrikaans). Beeld. 16 June 2014. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  42. ^ "IRB Junior World Championship : All Time Player Points Statistics". IRB. Archived from the original on 14 February 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
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  53. ^ "SA Rugby Match Centre – South Africa 27–25 New Zealand". South African Rugby Union. 4 October 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  54. ^ "SA Rugby Top Scorers – 2014 The Castle Lager Rugby Championship". South African Rugby Union. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  55. ^ "Handre Pollard out for nine months after freak accident in training". Sky Sports. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  56. ^ "Pollard in amputation fright". Sport. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  57. ^ "South Africa World Cup squad: Siya Kolisi wins fitness battle, Eben Etzebeth backed, Aphiwe Dyantyi dropped". Independent. 26 August 2019. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  58. ^ "England 12-32 South Africa: Springboks win World Cup for record-equalling third time". BBC. 2 November 2019. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  59. ^ "Handre Pollard watches South Africa victory tour from hospital". BBC. 7 November 2019. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  60. ^ "Pollard joins Boks in Cape Town after successful op". Sport24. 11 November 2019. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  61. ^ Henson, Mike (21 October 2023). "England 15–16 South Africa: Springboks fightback settles World Cup semi-final". BBC Sport. Retrieved 21 October 2023.
  62. ^ AINSWORTH, IMOGEN (28 October 2023). "NEW ZEALAND 11-12 SOUTH AFRICA: SPRINGBOKS CLAIM RECORD FOURTH WORLD CUP WITH NARROW WIN OVER 14-MAN ALL BLACKS". Eurosport. Retrieved 29 October 2023.
  63. ^ "Il Sudafrica ha vinto la Coppa del Mondo di rugby". Il Post (in Italian). 28 October 2023. Retrieved 29 October 2023.
  64. ^ Richardson, James (29 October 2023). "How many points has Handre Pollard scored for the Springboks". The South African. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  65. ^ "Player analysis – Handré Pollard". ESPN Scrum. Retrieved 22 August 2019.

External links edit