Thank you Morne Steyn for inspiring this rugby-mad young boy with your blue kicking tee and mercurial boots, writes Oliver Keohane.
I was a nine year old Bulls supporter and Morne Steyn with his blue Gilbert kicking tee and blue and green Nike Mercurial boots, was one of my first rugby heroes. 12 years later the sponsorship was from Puma but the kicking tee remained the same, as did that winning feeling whenever he took aim.
My early love for rugby and for wanting to kick for goal was because of Morne Steyn. He will always be a name that brings a smile to the face of South African rugby supporters as they reflect on the calm manner in which he won the biggest moments over his Springbok career.
He will always be an inspiration to me and he is one of the reasons I love rugby so much.
Steyn, who spent seven seasons in Paris, France, returned to Pretoria and Jake White’s Bulls in 2020 and was even better than when he dominated for the Bulls under Heyneke Meyer.
Steyn retires from international rugby at 37 years old, with 68 Test caps to his name, after a swan song year as Springbok again. In 2016 Steyn lost to the All Blacks in what many thought would be his last Test. In 2021 he was back in the Springbok set-up and kicking South Africa to a series victory over the British & Irish Lions, 12 years after his boot had defeated the British & Irish Lions of 2009.
In 2009 Steyn had come off the bench in only his second Test to kick a last-minute penalty to take the score to 28-25 and secure the Springboks a series win. 12 years later Steyn was again called off the bench, with 15 minutes to play and the scores level at 13 all. He kicked two penalties, the last in the final minute of play, for a 19-16 Springbok win and another South African series victory over the British & Irish Lions.
Steyn’s Springbok career spanned nine years in total if you take into account his absence between 2017-2020. During this time he played in two World Cups and two British & Irish Lions series, and contributed 742 points to Springbok rugby. 390 of those points were scored in the Tri-Nations and Rugby Championship, where the Springboks consistently faced two of the best sides in the World, in New Zealand and Australia.
Steyn has beaten New Zealand four times, and scored 139 points against them- a South African record. He also holds the record for most points scored by a Springbok against the All Blacks in one match, scoring all 31 of the Springboks’ points in their historic 31-19 Tri-Nations victory at Kings Park, in Durban.
Steyn has been a servant of South African rugby in the biggest moments, and he has always delivered, seemingly nerveless and without a hint of ego attached to his accomplishments.
His announcement from Test rugby is an opportunity to reflect on all that he has given to Springbok rugby, but it is also a great reminder of the glorious times that South Africa has experienced watching the Springboks since 2009, and the Springboks path back from the time Steyn last played in 2016, before returning in 2021
Thank you, Morne Steyn, for the joy that you have brought many a South African over your Springbok career. Thank you for inspiring a boy with your blue kicking tee and Mercurial boots.
Springbok great Morne Steyn has announced his retirement from test rugby 🙌
6⃣8⃣ Test caps 🇿🇦
7⃣4⃣2⃣ Points 🎯
1⃣5⃣6⃣ Penalties (most by a Bok)
1⃣0⃣2⃣ Conversions 🎯
1⃣0⃣ Drop goals 🙌
0⃣8⃣ Tries 🏉
🔝 Points scorer @ RWC2011
0⃣2⃣ Lions Series Winner🦁
0⃣1⃣ Tri-Nations winner 🏆 pic.twitter.com/VxRVWC72iS
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) October 19, 2021
WATCH: Morne Steyn tribute