One of SA rugby’s legendary hard men, Duane Vermeulen has been included on a list of the greatest back-row bruisers to have ever played the sport.
The grizzled Springbok No 8 was named among a star-studded group compiled by Ruck.co.uk, that includes three All Blacks and four World Cup winners.
Vermeulen returned to Test rugby with aplomb in 2023, captaining South Africa to wins over Australia and Argentina in the Rugby Championship, and looks set to be included in the 33-man squad for the World Cup in France.
The 37-year-old was a key player when the Boks won the Webb Ellis Cup in 2019, with his defensive mastery and powerful ball carries, and was named the Man of the Match against England in the final.
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Explaining Vermeulen’s selection, Ruck stated: “Vermeulen is a South African rugby union player, renowned for his powerful performances as a No 8. Born on July 3, 1986, in Nelspruit, Vermeulen’s imposing presence and aggressive ball-carrying have made him a standout force in international rugby.
“He earned recognition while representing the Bulls in Super Rugby and Toulon in the French Top 14. Vermeulen’s crowning achievement came in 2019 when he played a pivotal role in South Africa’s Rugby World Cup triumph, showcasing his exceptional leadership and work ethic on the field.”
Ruck’s Top 8 eighthmen:
8. Taulupe Faletau (Wales)
7. Wayne Shelford (New Zealand)
6. Duane Vermeulen (South Africa)
5. Sergio Parisse (Italy)
4. Kieran Read (New Zealand)
3. Mervyn Davies (Wales)
2. Lawrence Dallaglio (England)
1. Zinzan Brooke (New Zealand)
Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix