The South African national rugby union team (the Springboks) are the current holders of the Rugby World Cup and 2009 British and Irish Lions Series winners. They are currently ranked as the third best team in the IRB World Rankings and were named 2008 World Team of the Year at the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards.
Although South Africa was instrumental in the creation of the Rugby World Cup competition, the Springboks did not compete in the first two World Cups in 1987 and 1991 because of anti-apartheid sporting boycotts of South Africa. The team made its World Cup debut in 1995, when the newly democratic South Africa hosted the tournament. The Springboks then defeated the All Blacks 15–12 in the final, which is now remembered as one of the greatest moments in South Africa's sporting history, and a watershed moment in the post-Apartheid nation-building process. South Africa regained their title as champions 12 years later, when they defeated England 15–6 in the 2007 final. As a result of the 2007 World Cup tournament the Springboks were promoted to first place in the IRB World Rankings; a position they held until July the following year when New Zealand regained the top spot.
The Springboks play in green and gold jerseys, and their emblems are the Springbok and the Protea. The side have been playing international rugby since 1891, when a British Isles side toured the nation, playing South Africa in their first Test on 30 July. South Africa is currently coached by Peter de Villiers, after Jake White, who led the Boks to the 2007 World Cup title, announced his resignation effective at the end of 2007. The current captain is John Smit, who has played hooker for most of his career, although he has also been a prop, mainly in 2008 and 2009. Due to Smit being unavailable for the November 2010 Tests after surgery, lock Victor Matfield took Smit's place as captain for that tour.