Farm life beckons for Bakkies


With a World Cup triumph in 2007, three Super Rugby championships with the Bulls and two European titles with Toulon, not to mention Tri-Nations, Currie Cup and Top 14 honours - few can match the Springbok second row enforcer's illustrious achievements.

But in the twilight of his career and savouring the prospect ahead of the “calmness of the bush”, Botha, perhaps befitting a deeply religious man, prefers to focus on the team, rather than his individual contribution.

Toulon, the Mediterranean port city he has called home since 2011, hope to be crowned kings of Europe for a third successive year when they take on French rivals Clermont Auvernge in the Champions Cup final at Twickenham on Saturday.

“I'm really happy that I came to Europe to test myself in this league and I want to end my career hopefully making it into two finals (Champions Cup and Top 14),” said the 36-year-old lock.

“The main focus for me is not to win three in a row... it's to go out there, enjoy it and the result will come by itself.

“It's not, for me, what I have achieved as an individual player, it's more what I can achieve for the team.

“When I arrived here in 2011 they were fighting to stay up in the Top 14. Almost four years down the line we are going into third final. Leaving (Toulon) a better place is bigger for me than to win three in a row.”

Botha formed one of the greatest lock partnerships in history with Victor Matfield and the pair were key figures in South Africa's 2007 World Cup triumph.

Renowned for big hits (just ask Wales prop Adam Jones who suffered a dislocated shoulder that put him out of the British and Irish Lions tour of 2009), Botha often found himself in front of a citing commissioner.

He won 85 caps before announcing his international retirement after the victory over Italy in November and with life back on his farm on the horizon, he is determined to end on a high.

“To measure up at the end of my career to still play games like the Champions Cup final, that's awesome,” he said.

“I'm thankful I can still play this level of rugby at the age of 36. If it's meant to be it will be.

“I just want to enjoy it...the last couple of weeks and the game I love so much.”

And when it's all over Botha will swap one patch of grass for another.

“I'm not going to be on the field, I'm going to be in the field after my rugby career,” he joked.

“I think I'm going to go home and start working for my wife... Be a father for my kids.

“Go up to my farm. Spend time with my animals and do everything I haven't had time for the last 15 years.” – Reuters

Original source: Farm life beckons for Bakkies