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Friday, January 20, 2006


Rugby Personalities: Where are they now?

(With grateful thanks to Pieter for kindly taking the time out of his busy schedule to provide further detail on the chronology of his playing career.)

If De Wet Barry can be described as the Prince, Japie Mulder as the General then perhaps it would not be out of place to call Pieter Gysbert Muller the King of recent South African inside centres.

Pieter Muller made his debut for the Springboks as a fresh faced youngster on the 15 Aug 1992 at the age of 23.

Muller played for South African schools in 1987 and 1988 (following in the footsteps of his older brother Helgard in 1981 and 1982). Muller made his debut for Orange Free State in 1990, after playing club rugby in Ireland for six months, and played for the province 25 times before moving to Natal where he stayed till 1995.

The strapping 1.87m, 100 kg debutant couldn't have chosen a more auspicious occasion on which to start his international career, not only against the mighty All Blacks at Ellis Park but in South Africa's first international after re-admittance.

Paired up with the legendary Danie Gerber, and playing outside Naas Botha, his opponents were one of the best centre pairings in history in Walter Little and Frank Bunce.

This was a quality New Zealand team from 1-15 with the likes of Sean Fitzpatrick, Michael Jones, Ian Jones, Zinzan Brooke, Richard Loe, Olo Brown and Grant Fox. Their experience told as they thundered to a 2 try half-time lead of 10-0, leaving all South African supporters fearing the worst, not least the 72 000 crammed into the stadium.

Muller and Gerber were having nothing of it however, scorching in three second half tries between them with Gerber crossing twice. Ferocious defence limited the Kiwis to a solitary second half try and the game was to be decided on discipline and the battle of two of the greatest boots the game has seen.

Fox eventually prevailed with the New Zealanders running out 27-24 victors whilst we witnessed the birth of a stellar career for the young Muller.

Pieter played another 17 tests for the Boks before enduring a career threatening neck break in April 1995. One can only imagine the mental anguish, never mind physical trauma, of suffering a life threatening injury in the year South Africa were due to host a home World Cup.

It was thought at the time that we'd seen the last of the massive centre but through quiet dedication and inner resolve Muller rehabilitated himself.

Pieter headed to Australia and joined the Penrith Panthers rugby league team in 1996, where he stayed for a year, further developing his technique and physique. A year with Toulouse in 1997 preceded his return to South Africa and the Sharks.

Recalled to the Springboks in 1998, he enjoyed nine successive victories whilst amassing a further 16 tests to bring his total appearances for South Africa to 33, a highly creditable total given his 4 year absence. Beyond that he shared in the 8th and 9th highest centre partnerships for SA with Andre Snyman and Heinrich Fuls respectively. He also played five matches each with Danie Gerber and Robbie Fleck. Pieter also shares the highest caps as a centre for South Africa with John Gainsford and De Wet Barry.

Whilst most players would consider retiring at the age of 30, Pieter left SA to ply his trade in the UK. Joining the Cardiff Blues in 2000, he appeared in 80 matches for the Welsh outfit. At the same time he started developing his interest in coaching, taking his Coaching Qualifications in Wales. He assisted in coaching the Wales U19 and U21 squads and is developing his skills by doing a MSc Coaching Science degree.

Despite approaches from more glamorous clubs, he chose to move to Doncaster as Director of Rugby Development where he saw the opportunity to learn every aspect of rugby management with a progressive club.

Doncaster's faith in Muller was quickly repaid when he secured the RFU's Coach of the Month - National Two, three months in succession.

On hearing of the award, Pieter said, “I am delighted to accept the award on behalf of the Doncaster players who faced really tough matches in the last month, just as promotion was looming. There were no wobbles and we got the job done. This included a narrow win over Newbury in the best match of the whole season. We were pushed hard and were able to show just how good a side we are. There are a number of very good coaches in this league and I am just happy that, in my first season in that role, success has come early in my career”.

So, in this edition of 'Where are they now?' we can definitively say that an outstanding servant of South African rugby is in Doncaster.

Details of Pieter's club can be found at

Let's hope that Pieter's rugby journey brings him back home once again at some stage in his career.

Pieter Gysbert Muller, Rugga World salutes you.

Information sources:,,, and
The word 'legend' is thrown around too easily these days but I believe Pieter can rightfully be called a Springbok legend.  
Not only was he a awesome player and a credit to the green and gold, I am also very pleased to see that he is further highly qualified with a MSc. Very interesting article and I concur, I hope we see him in S.A. in the not to distant future.  
Yes JJ at the Sharks maybe?

Hope that he will ply his trade here- seems like he had developed himself a lot.
Oh yes Ras

Good journalism.
Got my pic right at last. At my age this quite an achievement – now you know what to think of my postings  
Hahaha, JJ!

The wise old monkey!

Congrats on sorting the picture thingy out, it's puzzled many a person!
heheheh Ras and JJ

Well done guys.

Anyway, good piece Ras
Thanks OO & DavidS

It's sad to think that Pieter missed out on the world cup because of that terrible neck injury.

I was surprised to find there are currently the three centres standing on the most caps for SA.

De Wet will almost certainly become SA's most capped centre this year, barring injury.
what a player  
yup jusm,

one of my favourites too.
but did he not invent the crash ball tactic in SA rugby?  
If you guys would like I could try and set up a Q&A with Pieter.

He seems to be a very personable and approachable person.

Post your questions here and we'll see what we can do.
how did you prefer outside you while you played and why?

and similarly, who was the best flyhalf you played with?
oh this one should be good and settle things between me and davids.

what is your take on JDV, a classy, classic, 12 and playmaker or do you think he will be better suited at let say 10 or 13? maybe even wing?
japie mulder, is now coaching the bulldogs, will you ever consider a career in SA to coach here, and why did you choose the NH to learn and apply this trade? opportunities or do you feel it is the best place to learn?  
why do you think i am the only person asking you questions? is it because it is weekend or are the others simply not interested to hear your views?  
why do you think the boks always perform better in the SH? is it a mental thing or something that will change the longer the guys are together, or do we simply not have the players to perform there?  
Cheetah-Force Game being webcast

The warm-up game between the 2006 Super 14 contestants Emirates Western Force and Vodacom Cheetahs at the Subiaco Oval in Perth, can be followed from 1300 CAT on the web by logging onto
One is the loneliest number

"Snowball" in Stuart Little
more OO,

goeie nuus dankie ek sal dit defintief volg, hopelik gee rassie se manne daai skaapjagters een in die naught.

Now that PissAnt finished "gatkruiping" with you, I would just like to ask what you thought of playing Rugby League in Australia?


Thanks. I'll open a thread for the game.

ignore knadas, it is his fault you did not get more caps, we commonly refer to it as "KF", i will explain later.

what would be nice is for a true springbok great like yourself (although flecky is still a legend), is to give us your dream 15, and the reasons for it.

Some people just dont know when to stop. No pride!

DOn't be too upset about these two lunatics. They have applied to go to Noupoort, but it seems they can't be helped.

My question:

The Boks have based their success over the last two years purely on defense. Is this style of rugby sustainable and is it really that difficult to counter? Seeing that the French basically nullified the rush defense from playing form deep with quick ball.
Which coach did the most for your rugby,and which Bok coach did you enjoy playing with most and why?
And on top of that they are both sitting with terrible hangovers today.  

What do you think is the reason why the forwards in the current Bok setup do not dominate against seemingly poorer opposition. It seems as if they are not gelling.
See I told you. Now they have gone back to bed.  

What is your take on Robbie Fleck? There is quite a few people on this site that believes he is one of the Bok legends.
And if that is not enough, then Donner starts "kruiping" as well!

Sorry Pieter.

And, by the way, that last Fleck-question can NOT be taken seriously!
massive hangovers?

i am still pissed.


it is another KF.

realistically pieter, and in your honest opinion, can Jake and this team bring home the world cup?

and where do you see them lack or areas they need to work on to do this.
Damn, fellows!

I said a Q&A! I'm not going to ask him to write a book!! ;-)
Just found you geezers - well happy that there is an 'alternate' place to air one's views re the oval ball game ... well done on getting this sorted  
Welcome Bongani.  
Welcome, Bongani!

Great to have you.
Question for Pieter:

1. If you could pick a centre pair for the current Bok side who would it be and why?

2. Our current backline has had some critisism regarding their attacking abilities, what is your view on that?
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