Os du Randt’s moulding as the quintessential farm boy from Elliott in the Eastern Cape meant he probably didn’t have to do too much strength training once he broke into the Springbok team back in October 1994.
Yet the legendary loosehead prop admits that the intense training regime and professional outlook of head coach Kitch Christie during the triumphant 1995 World Cup campaign was a bit of a shock to the system.
“Coming out of the Free State, we weren’t that professional at the time,” Du Randt said with a chuckle during the Players’ Fund’s recent ‘Class of 95’ event.
“It was a bit of a wake-up call, but nonetheless incredible. I had a chat with Francois Pienaar the other day and told him it felt to me that Kitch never seemed to coach.
“He never spoke to us too much. It felt to me like he and Francois just sorted things out before training sessions and everything just then went smoothly. We had the same kit on the whole time. Everything was just so professional.”
Naturally, that translated into the intense skill-specific practices that became the stuff of legend under Christie, who was a prophet of the principle that a winning team need not be the most talented one.
“During training, we had a ‘power half-hour’. I absolutely hated every minute of that,” Du Randt said.
“I can’t remember how many times we ran up and down the little steps (at Wanderers Rugby Club) but we were so fit and strong. We did like 80 live scrums in the morning and then 120 against the scrum machine. It was amazing.”
The effort, however, was absolutely worth it, particularly given how a vastly less experienced Bok front row of Du Randt, Chris Rossouw and Balie Swart managed to tame the all-conquering All Black trio of Craig Dowd, Sean Fitzpatrick and Olo Brown in the 1995 World Cup final.
“Before the final I was very wary of coming up against Olo. The All Blacks’ tight five had played something like 45 Tests together consecutively,” Du Randt said.
“But I believe we had the better of them in the scrum and that was just down to the hard work beforehand, before the World Cup started and during it too.”
One of the youngest members of the 1995 squad, at the age of 22, Du Randt came full circle when he turned out as the oldest member of the squad at the 2007 World Cup, becoming the first South African to lift the trophy twice.
It was an accolade Du Randt admits made him a bit uncomfortable, but he’s now very chuffed that Frans Steyn – who won the World Cup with the Boks for the second time last year – has joined him. “It’s a great honour to be part of two World Cup winning squads, but to be honest you also feel a bit lonely,” he said.
“At least Frans has done that too now and I’m very happy for him. He’s a great guy and great player.”