Bakkies Botha on why he loved being a rugby hard man

Bakkies Botha on why he loved being a rugby hard man

Former Springbok great Bakkies Botha recently opened up about his time in Toulon and why he enjoyed the physical part of the game so much.

Legends of the game were invited back to Toulon this week to attend the induction of eight players into the club's Hall of Fame at a glitzy banquet. Amongst those in attendance was Botha, who spoke fondly of his time at the Top 14 club and explained why he joined Toulon from the Bulls in 2011.

The 85-Test cap Bok played 73 times for the French outfit, winning three Champions Cup titles and one Top 14 trophy.

After a trophy-laden career with the Bulls, Botha headed to Toulon and explained that former All Blacks prop Carl Hayman was part of the reason why he joined the side.

"Coming to a club like Toulon was just the icing on the cake," Botha said of his career in an interview with RMC Sport.

"Meeting Jonny Wilkinson, Carl Hayman, Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell... one of the reasons I came was to discover Carl Hayman, who was already playing here.

"I still think today that he was one of the best tightheads in the world. And beyond the magnificent climate here, the sea, the environment, I wanted to play with Carl Hayman.

"I came here to play in a team where all the players were my enemies! They all played against me before, and then you arrive in Toulon, and you all have to play together. That's what was special for me because the last three years of my career ended on a good note."

Botha was renowned, perhaps even infamous, worldwide for his physicality and abrasiveness on the pitch, and he is a legend in the eyes of the Toulon fans.

"I like the physical and brutal side of this game. I love it," Botha said.

"The more stitches and broken bones, the more I liked it. But I must confess today that my years in Toulon were the ones where I had the most injuries in my career.

"Matt Giteau told me not long ago that he remembers a kick-off in Agen and that he heard like the sound of a machine gun. I had broken my arm! In another game, I had a skull fracture, but that's rugby. It's hard and brutal."

Botha explained that this is part of the reason that he wanted to join a Top 14 club.

"That's why I came to France because I had seen a lot of Top 14 videos and when the weather is wet, you can't escape easily, he said.

"In the Top 14, the rugby suited me like a glove. It was a little slower than in Super 12, but it was much more physical and brutal. It was hard. That's what I liked in Toulon. The Top 14 is a brutal competition, and you have to be at your best physical level to make the difference."