A lot has already been written about fan favourite Jacques Botes reaching a milestone of 100 Super Rugby caps for the Sharks, but we’d like to weigh in with our own little tribute to the great man as well.
Christened Louis Jacques Botes, back in Johannesburg nearly 32 years ago, the plucky flanker took the hard road on his way to rugby stardom, missing out on the Craven Week and junior rugby “fast track” that so many of his peers have enjoyed. After matriculating at the unfashionable Potchefstroom Gimnasium, Boots went on to study at Tukkies, where he first caught the eye of coach Dick Muir.
It was only after 3 hard years of graft in the unfashionable colours of the Pumas that the tough-as-nails loose forward was offered a Sharks contract, coming in under the blanket of controversy that surrounded Kevin Putt’s “no-name brand shopping spree” back in 2005. As an unheralded and completely unknown 25 year old, few, at that point, would have anticipated Botes going on to amass 200 caps for the Sharks, as those procured alongside him were culled from the squad one by one.
In a rare stroke of luck, though, it was Botes’s old club coach Muir who duly replaced Putt at the helm and the faith he showed in the player was richly rewarded. Jacques went on to star for the side over the next few years, proving such an indispensable cog in the wheel that he played every single Super Rugby and Currie Cup game for the Sharks for four season (2006-2009). Time has moved on and Jacques has got older, but despite the veritable plethora of loose forwards that have made their way to Durban since he arrived, somehow he always manages to demonstrate continued value, to the extent that he stays in (or near) the match 22.
His 100th Super Rugby cap against the Stormers last week goes together with the 100th Currie Cup cap he picked up in last year’s semi-final against the Cheetahs (ironically, he was dropped for the final) to make him the second most-capped Sharks player ever, behind Stefan Terblanche. In this day and age of ever-increasing separation between Super Rugby and Currie Cup squads, dual-centurions like Jacques are sure to become a rare commodity indeed, making it all the more important to treasure him and marvel at what he has achieved.
Aside from the caps, he’s also scored 25 tries in Super Rugby and 35 in the Currie Cup, far and away the leading forward points scorer in both of those competitions. True to his modest self, though, Botes refuses to dwell on the milestone, giving all the glory to the Maker he credits for all he achieved, while putting his head down and concentrating on giving his all against the Lions this weekend.
Jacques Botes, we salute you and a true hero in black and white!Tweet