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Professor Johannes Theodorus Claassen (23 September 1929 – 6 January 2019)[1] was a South African rugby player, playing at the second-row forward position.[2]

Johannes Theodorus Claassen
Date of birth(1929-09-23)23 September 1929
Place of birthPrince Albert, South Africa
Date of death6 January 2019(2019-01-06) (aged 89)
Place of deathPretoria
Rugby union career
Position(s) Second-row forward
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
Western Transvaal ()
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1955–1962 South Africa 28


He attended school in Christiana and later attended University in Potchefstroom. He made his first appearance for Western Transvaal when he was 19 years old and went on to play a total of 105 matches for Western Transvaal. He made his Test debut six years later against the Lions at Ellis Park.[1]

In 1958, Claassen became captain of the South African National Team before a match against the French. In 1962, he led the South African team to a winning streak, including a major victory over the British and Irish Lions. From 1968 to 1971 he was head coach of the South African team, known as the Springboks, winning 17 out of 26 test matches.[1]

In club rugby, Claassen was most notably a star for Western Transvaal.[3]

After retiring from rugby he went on to become a teacher, before becoming a lecturer at Potchefstroom University and later a Professor of Bible Studies.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Johan Claassen, biblical scholar who served the Springboks rugby team as player, captain, coach, selector and manager – obituary". Telegraph. March 11, 2019. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  2. ^ "Former Springbok star lock and coach, dies". sport24. 7 January 2019.
  3. ^ "Former Springbok captain Professor Johan Claassen passes away". The South African. 7 January 2019.
Rugby Union Captain
Preceded by
Salty du Rand
Springbok Captain
Des van Jaarsveldt