Wynand Claassen

Wynand Claassen (born 16 January 1951, in Schweizer-Reneke) is a former South African rugby player and Springbok captain.[1]

Birth nameWynand Claassen
Date of birth (1951-01-16) 16 January 1951 (age 69)
Place of birthSchweizer-Reneke
SchoolMiddelburg High School, Mpumalanga
UniversityUniversity of Pretoria
University of Natal
Notable relative(s)George Claassen (father)
Antonie Claassen (son)
Rugby union career
Position(s) No. 8
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
University of Pretoria
University of Natal
Provincial / State sides
Years Team Apps (Points)
Northern Transvaal
61 ()
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1981–82 Springboks 7 (0)
Correct as of 2 June 2013
Teams coached
Years Team
1986–89 University of Natal

Playing careerEdit

He was selected as eighth-man for Northern Transvaal whilst studying architecture at the University of Pretoria in the late 1970s. He formed a loose-trio with Thys Lourens and Burger Geldenhuys and soon had two Currie Cup final victories, in 1975 and 1977.[2]

In 1980 he moved to Natal and was selected for the Springboks in 1981, captaining the team on his debut against Ireland. Despite Natal's relegation to the Currie Cup B section at the end of 1981 he continued as Springbok captain until 1984.[3] He played seven test matches for the Springboks, all as captain and also played in six tour matches, scoring two tries.[4]

Claassen is credited with reviving rugby at the University of Natal, both as a player and later as a coach. In 1988 he coached the Durban campus of the University of Natal to the Moor Cup title.

Test historyEdit

No. Opposition Result (SA 1st) Position Tries Date Venue
1.   Ireland 23–15 Number 8 (c) 30 May 1981 Newlands, Cape Town
2.   Ireland 12–10 Number 8 (c) 6 June 1981 Kings Park Stadium, Durban
3.   New Zealand 24–12 Number 8 (c) 29 August 1981 Athletic Park, Wellington
4.   New Zealand 22–25 Number 8 (c) 12 September 1981 Eden Park, Auckland
5.   United States 38–7 Number 8 (c) 20 September 1981 Owl Creek Polo ground, Glenville, New York
6.   South American Jaguars 50–18 Number 8 (c) 27 March 1982 Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
7.   South American Jaguars 12–21 Number 8 (c) 3 April 1982 Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein

Springbok captainEdit

In 1981 he earned international acclaim as captain during the infamous "Rebel Tour" in New Zealand.[3]

Political influence in South African RugbyEdit

Since retiring from the sport, he has maintained an active role in South African Rugby across the spectrum. He is often invited to the Captain's Table at various fund raising events.

He has also earned great respect through his active involvement along with other Springbok captains supporting AfriForum's memorandum against political interference and racial discrimination in rugby.

On 12 August 2008, Wynand Claassen and a delegation of former Springbok captains met with the South African Rugby Union as part of their campaign to express concerns and lobby against the use of race to determine team selection.

In this meeting they expressed their intent to send a memorandum to the International Rugby Board. They assert that racial discrimination in sport and team selection is in conflict with international sporting regulations.


His autobiography, "More Than Just Rugby" was published in 1985.

Social AppearancesEdit

Wynand Claassen was an honorary host on the Amabokoboko Blue Train which departed in June 2009 on a rare and distinguished journey from Pretoria. He played host to exclusive guests en route to watch the Springboks vs the British & Irish Lions in their first test match in Durban.


Claassen is also an architecture graduate and occasional artist. In a Sunday Times interview with Jani Allan he described his passion for architecture: "I'm very interested in old architecture - I think it's a great pity that beautiful buildings that are part of our heritage are torn down to make way for great glass boxes." A self-portrait also accompanied the column.[5]


His father was George Claassen, a schoolmaster from Middelburg Hoërskool and winner of the 1961 Comrades Marathon between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Wynand Claassen". ESPN scrum. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  2. ^ Colquhoun, Andy (1999). The South African Rugby Annual 1999. MWP Media Sport. pp. 142, 176. ISBN 0958423148.
  3. ^ a b Greyvenstein, Chris. (1995). Springbok rugby : an illustrated history : the proud story of South African rugby from 1891 to the 1995 World Cup. Cape Town: Sable Media. pp. 214–233. ISBN 0958406227. OCLC 35978057.
  4. ^ Jooste, Graham K. (1995). South African rugby test players 1949-1995. Johannesburg: Penguin. pp. 107–114. ISBN 0140250174. OCLC 36916860.
  5. ^ Allan, Jani (1980s). Face Value. Longstreet.
  6. ^ "George Claassen, Oldest Comrades Marathon Champion, Has Died At 97". LetsRun.com. 26 June 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Theuns Stofberg
Springbok Captain
Succeeded by
Divan Serfontein