Born in South Africa, Superstar abroad


Those who follow me on Twitter will know that I am not a fan of people who jump ship and move to other countries to escape the so-called appalling conditions and lifestyle of South Africa. Some South African born sport stars plying their trade for other countries, might not have had much choice in moving away, but I have always found it quite interesting to know how they chose which country to play for – the one you were born in, or the one you are currently living in?

I suppose the decision can depend on many factors from how long you lived in SA and what kind of life you lived here to a very real thought that maybe you’re just not good enough to play for SA, so you chose your residential country instead.

Whichever reason a player might have for choosing another country over SA, there will always be different opinions about them and this is not what I have come to discuss today. I asked the followers of @thePunditsSA for some names of players who were born in South Africa but play sport for other national teams, not to judge, but merely for interest sake.

Take note that the obvious ones like Kevin P@estersen have been left out. Also note that these okes might be obvious to you but I chose the ones I never knew about.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome
Chris Froome

Now, before you jump on that high-horse, I do know that Froome was born in Kenya and not in South Africa. The reason I put him in here is because he actually inspired me to write this post. When I learned he was born in Kenya and brought up South Africa, I could not for the life of me figure out why he won the 2013 Tour de France as a member of the British Cycling Team.

Froome was 14 when he started high-school in SA and studied two years of economics after matric. It was in South Africa that Froome started to participate in road cycling. Froome always raced under the Kenyan flag, up until 2008 0r 2009 when he suddenly became British. Despite spending his entire life in either Kenya or South Africa, Froome said he always “felt British” – in my opinion, “felt British” is code for “felt British money in my pocket after jumping off the Kenyan ship”.

Either way, I am proud to say that this year we had the first African to ever wear a Tour de France yellow jersey,Β Daryl Impey, and even though the record books won’t show it, we also saw the first African win the Tour de France.

Ryan ten Doeschate

Ryan ten Doeschate
Ryan ten Doeschate

Ryan is a South African born cricket player who plays internationally for Holland. He also plays at club level for Essex, England. Ryan matriculated at Fairbairn College in Goodwood. Ryan holds the highest ODI batting average of any batsman that’s played more than 10 innings. His average of 67 must be taken with a pinch of salt though, as Holland seldom play against any top teams.

Not a bad bowler either as Ryan took five wickets in a 2007 Cricket World Cup warm up game against India, dismissing big names like Ganguly, Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni.

Ryan holds and ODI best of 119 vs England.

Kruger van Wyk

Kruger van Wyk
Kruger van Wyk

Kruger was born in Wolmaransstad, South Africa (I also don’t know where that is). He plays cricket as a wicket-keeping batsman and played professionally in South Africa, New Zealand and Scotland. Kruger graduated from the Afrikaans High School for Boys (Affies).

He started his first-class career with Northerns in 2000 but any hope of breaking into the strong SA squad was diminished by Mark Boucher’s stronghold in the position of wicketkeeper. He moved to New Zealand after being encouraged by his coach to pursue his international career abroad.

In January 2012, Kruger was named in the New Zealand cricket squad to play against Zimbabwe – he was later called up to make his test debut against his former country after BJ Watling was ruled out with a hip injury.

Pieter de Villiers

Pieter de Villiers
Pieter de Villiers

Rest assured, this is not Snorre de Villiers trying to make a comeback as a Rugby player. Pieter de Villiers was born in Malmesbury and played in two World Cups, representing France as a hard-scrumming prop.

De Villiers made his France debut in 1999 against Wales and played in the 1999 World Cup Quarter-Final win over Argentina as well as the famous Semi-Final win over New Zealand.

Off the field actions got Pieter into action as he was banned for taking recreational drugs in 2003 – traces cocaine and ecstasy were found in his system.

Grant Elliott

Grant Elliott
Grant Elliott

Yet another cricket player, Grant was born in Johannesburg. As an all-rounder, Grant played for SA ‘A’ against India ‘A’ before qualifying to play for New Zealand in 2007. Grant made his ODI and Test debuts against England, taking three wickets in his first ODI and scoring his first 50 in only his 2nd game.

Grant even made his own cricket bat, the Buzz Cricket Bat that Luke Woodcock used to score 220 in a first-class game. Plagued by injury, he started working with Sky Sport in 2010.

The list of South African born player who play abroad goes on and on, some other players who our followers suggested were:

  • Clyde Rathbone
  • Kevin Pieterson
  • Johnathan Trott
  • Craig Kieswetter
  • Brad Barrit
  • Andrew Strauss
  • Neil Wagner
  • Bernard Loots
  • Tony Greig
  • Allan Lamb
  • Robin Smith
  • Matt Prior

Know any other player? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

Written for The Pundits by @thatWallace

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The Pundits

Founded by Ryan Wallace & Keegan Kruger, The Pundits is a South African Sport Blog & Podcast that brings braai-time banter to our readers and viewers online.

We share sport news, banter and products across various online channels including our live sports podcast on YouTube, Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

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  • Guys I personally know from Worcester in the Boland, DTH van der Merwe plays fullback for Canada (Parents left) and Tobie Botes who plays Scrumhalf for Italy (played club rugby there).

    Others better known to play for England is Hendre Fourie, Stuart Abott and Moritz Botha. Also Matthew Turner the UCT quickster who plays for England’s 7’s.

    Richart Strauss also made his debut for Ireland recently. Keep your eyes on Robbie Diack. Pretty sure he’ll feature for them soon too.

    Irene van Dyk also captained both SA and New Zealands Netbal teams.

  • Great Post, I also am not a Fan of players that jump ship!

    I think we are going to see a lot more players representing other countries in years to come especially in Rugby. European unions are targeting young South African players in order to naturalize them for citizenship.

    One of the more notable ones is Josh Strauss, I personally feel he was on the verge of a Bok call up but decided to go play in Scotland with the intention of being Naturalized in Scotland to play for Scotland, it was even part of his contract.
    My first question, Surely as a Kid Josh grew up with the drew of representing the Boks? how will representing a nation that has no hope of doing anything satisfy that dream? Second question, How does the IRB allow such blatant “talent snatching” ?

    People may say, we celebrate when Football players go overseas to European leagues so why don’t we do the same in Rugby? Well Because our Rugby competitions are the Strongest in the World, as a continental competition I don’t the the Heineken cup can match Super Rugby, when it comes to provincial/club Rugby nothing comes close the the Currie Cup or ITM Cup. Football is also more universal than Rugby, if we southern hemisphere teams let all their stars go overseas we will all start playing northern hemisphere rugby and that wouldn’t be much fun!

    I have no issue with players like Brian Habana going overseas after he has served his country to earn some money. I find it highly insulting when young rugby players go overseas siting low pay as an issue when you are earning a very healty living while most of our country isnt!!

    At the end of the day we want players playing for our national teams who want to play for the jersey not the money, thats why I would love to see SARU say that no player under 27 playing overseas will be eligible to play for the Boks.

    Lastly if I hear you speaking with a Saffer accent representing another country I will be calling you a traitor!

  • How can we forget Matt Stevens and PE local Mike Catt (England Rugby) More will come to mind.

    • Sjeesh! Where were you when we asked this question? haha Thanks for the extra insight mate.

  • Getting some facts straight.

    Daryl Impey wasn’t the first South African to win a TdF stage. That honour belongs to Robert Hunter. Daryl Impey is the first South African to wear the yellow jersey though.

  • Right now you could pick an overseas Springbok XV that would give the current XV a run if not a hiding!!!

    1. Guthro Steenkamp/Heinke Van der Merwe
    2. Schalk Britz/Craig Burden/Chilliboy
    3. Brian Mujati/Patrick Barnard
    4. Bakkies Botha/Quintin Geldenhuys
    5. Andries Bekker/Juandre Kruger/Johan Muller
    6. Jacque Potgieter/Bernard Le Roux
    7. Francois Louw/Jacques Cronje
    8. Joe Van Niekerk/Juan Smith/Antonie Claasens
    9. Rory Kockott/Ruan Pienaar/Fourie du Preez/Jano Vermaak!!
    10. Johan Goosen/Morne Steyn
    11. Bryan Habana
    12. Bradley Barrit/Wynand Olivier/Meyer Bosman
    13. Jacque Fourie
    14. Wandile Mjekevu
    15. Zane Kirschner

    How well do you think the above team would do in the Super competition as SA’s 6th franchise? A lot better than The Kings would!!!!!

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Founded by Ryan Wallace & Keegan Kruger, The Pundits is a South African Sport Blog & Podcast that brings braai-time banter to our readers and viewers online.

We share sport news, banter and products across various online channels including our live sports podcast on YouTube, Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

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