How Many South African Rugby Players Play In England? (2022)

There are forty-five South African rugby players currently playing in the England Premiership Rugby tournament.

The players are spread across ten clubs, with Sale Sharks having the highest number. Seven players have been in recent Springbok squads.

This article gives you the list of South African rugby players in each Premiership club. We’ll also dive into the reasons why so many move to play in England.

South African Players In Premiership Rugby

This table gives you the list for the 2021/22 season.

ClubPlayerPositionCurrent Springbok?
Exeter ChiefsDon ArmandLock
Exeter ChiefsJacques VermeulenBack row
Exeter ChiefsJannes KirstenBack row
GloucesterRuan AckermannBack row
Leicester TigersFrançois Van WykProp
Leicester TigersCyle BrinkBack row
Leicester TigersHanro LiebenbergBack row
Leicester TigersJasper WieseBack rowY
Leicester TigersMarco Van StadenBack row
Leicester TigersKobus Van WykWinger
Leicester TigersJaco TauteFullback
London IrishAllan DellProp
London IrishMarcel Van Der MerweProp
London IrishMike WillemseHooker
London IrishBenhard Janse Van RensburgFullback
Newcastle FalconsRichard PalframanProp
Newcastle FalconsKyle CooperHooker
Newcastle FalconsPhilip Van Der WaltBack row
Newcastle FalconsLouis SchreuderScrum half
Northampton SaintsDavid RibbansLock
Northampton SaintsJuarno AugustusBack row
Northampton SaintsCourtnall SkosanWinger
Sale SharksCoenie OosthuizenPropY
Sale SharksNick SchonertProp
Sale SharksAkker Van Der MerweHooker
Sale SharksJp Du PreezLock
Sale SharksLood De JagerLockY
Sale SharksCobus WieseBack row
Sale SharksDan Du PreezBack rowY
Sale SharksJean-Luc Du PreezBack rowY
Sale SharksJono RossBack row
Sale SharksFaf De KlerkScrum halfY
Sale SharksRobert Du PreezFly-half
Sale SharksRohan Janse Van RensburgCenter
SaracensVincent KochPropY
SaracensIvan Van ZylScrum half
SaracensRuben De HaasScrum half
WaspsPieter ScholtzProp
WaspsMichael Van VuurenHooker
WaspsSebastian De ChavesLock
WaspsNizaam CarrBack row
WaspsFrancois HougaardScrum half
Worcester WarriorsKyle HatherellBack row
Worcester WarriorsFrancois VenterCenter
Worcester WarriorsDuhan Van Der MerweWinger

Why Are There So Many South Africans In English Rugby Clubs?

There are several reasons why South African rugby players want to play in England.

Higher salaries

They can command a significantly higher salary in the Premiership than when playing in South African competitions. You can compare the average salaries with these articles:

Problems with South African rugby structures

There has been considerable upheaval within the South African Rugby Union and its clubs.

Some clubs joined the PRO14 in Europe – a tournament that traditionally includes clubs from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Italy.

This didn’t work out for the Cheetahs who ended up being ejected. This kind of uncertainty over the future of the clubs may have led players to seek a more established environment.

Less social and political unrest

South Africa has been going through a period of instability in recent years.

England has its own problems, but there is less risk of financial or crime issues in the country.

Which England Premiership Club Has The Most South African Players?

It’s natural for rugby players to head to places where they know a former teammate or even a family member is already there.

“Saffacens” was the nickname given by rival supporters to a former Premiership champion i.e. Saracens. This was because they seemed to have plenty of big and super-talented Springboks on their books. However, the Saracens numbers have dwindled to three.

Sale Sharks has the most South African players in the Premiership.

Sale Sharks has overtaken every other club with the sheer number of players from the southern hemisphere.

Most of them seem to be called Du Preez. At least three of these are brothers (I’m not sure about the fourth).

Sale has a grand total of twelve South Africans. With just a few more, they could field their own team and compete in the URC!