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2007 Rugby World Cup Teams

2007 team of the tournament, where are they now?

With the World Cup edging nearer, RUCK.co.uk has had a look back at the 2007 team of the tournament. We’ve remembered why they were in the team but also had a look at what this XV are doing now eight year’s on.

1. Andrew Sheridan (England)

Why was he on the team?

The 6ft 5in prop got hailed as a new hero of English rugby after his inspiring performance in the quarter-finals where he demolished the Australia pack. His immense power and consistency led to him being regarded as one of the elite props in world rugby. Therefore, he was one of England’s key assets during the tournament, regularly earning them the edge up front.

What is he doing now?

After the World Cup in 2007 he went on to be part of the British and Irish Lions tour in 2009. The prop then made the cut for 2011 tournament but had his tournament ended after just 63 minutes due to injury against Argentina. He then joined Toulon in 2012, ending his England career, before he retired altogether from rugby in September 2014 on medical grounds. He is now concentrating on his music career.

Did you know: In 2010, Sheridan recorded and released an acoustic rock album, entitled “Where We Go From Here”.

2. John Smit (South Africa)

Why was he on the team?

The Springbok Skipper led his nation to a first World Cup triumph since their famous win in 1995. The natural leader was outstanding throughout the tournament, starting six out of seven games. Smit never lost his nerve, especially in the tense final against England.

What is he doing now?

In 2009, Smit led the Springboks to a 2-1 series victory over the British & Irish Lions before leading his country into the World Cup again in 2011. The Boks were this knocked out by Australia in the quarter-finals, and Smit stepped into international retirement shortly after. After retiring from the game completely in 2013, the former South Africa Skipper was appointed by the Shark’s, his old club, as their new CEO.

Did you know: Between October 2003 and June 2007, Smit played in a record 46 consecutive Test matches for South Africa.

3. Pieter de Villiers (France)

Why was he on the team?

The French tighthead was one of the few props to stand up and be counted against England’s Sheridan. His force and power at the scrum and breakdown was a major reason why Les Bleus were able to reach the semi-finals.

What is he doing now?

Following the World Cup he suffered a neck injury in December 2007 that sidelined him for a large part of the rest of 2007/08 season. After recovering he had difficulty getting back into the Stade Francais squad and announced his retirement from all rugby at the end of the season. De Villiers is now scrum coach for the South African National Rugby team and is regarded as a trusted aid of current coach Heyneke Meyer.

Did you know: At the club level, he has had a very successful career, playing on teams that were French champions in 1998, 2000, 2003, 2004, and 2007.

4. Simon Shaw (England)

Why was he on the team?

After waiting 12 year’s to get his shot at a World Cup Simon Shaw announced himself on the world stage in a major way. Every time he stepped on to the pitch he put his heart and soul into it with a series of stamina-sapping displays.

What is he doing now?

In recognition of his consistent good form with club and country, Shaw was selected for the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa in 2009. This established him as the oldest person to ever be selected and play for a Lions team. He then was part of Martin Johnson’s England group at the World Cup in 2011 before the next year he joined big-spending Toulon, ending his England career. The lock won in total 71 caps in an international career that spanned 15 years from 1996 to 2011. Following his rugby career, he became a Director of Rugby Hospitality company Set Piece Events. He has also set up a website www.inmylocker.co.uk, to auction rugby memorabilia for charity.

Did you know: He is known as Shawsey to his teammates and was born in Kenya in 1973.

5. Victor Matfield (South Africa)

Why was he on the team?

Matfield was an instant selection for the team of the tournament at the World Cup in 2007. He won the Man of the Match award in the final for the Springboks for his brilliant work in the line-out and all-round skill, which caused England major issues.

What is he doing now?

Matfield retired from the Springboks after the World Cup in 2011 and considered a coaching career in Australia with the NSW Waratahs. Nevertheless, in 2014, Matfield returned to rugby as a player, signing a 2-year playing contract with the Bulls up until the end of 2015. He is now expected to hang up his boots at the end of the upcoming World Cup at the age of 38.

Did you know: Over the course of his career, Matfield has won the Currie Cup final three times (2002, 2004 & 2009), the Super 14 title in 2007, 2009 and 2010, the Tri-Nations in 2004 and 2009 and the Rugby World Cup in 2007.

6. Jerry Collins (New Zealand)

Why was he on the team?

Nobody played better in the faltering All Blacks side then Jerry Collins as he attempted to keep them on track. Unlike a few of his teammates, he didn’t go missing when they were knocked out by France and continued to battle bravely right up until the final whistle.

What is he doing now?

The fearsome forward with a big smile retired from international rugby in 2008 before playing club rugby around the world in France, Wales and Japan. Collins and his partner, Alana Madill, aged 34, tragically died on the morning of 5 June 2015 after their car lost control and collided with a bus on the A9 autoroute near Béziers in southern France. All rugby supporters forever remember him as one of the greats.

Did you know: Collins famously turned out for Barnstaple’s Second XV while on holiday in Devon and wore the club’s socks while playing for the Barbarians.

7. Juan Smith (South Africa)

Why was he on the team?

South Africa’s tough-tackling openside flanker Juan Smith was a key part of the World Cup-winning team to lift the Webb Ellis trophy in 2007. Throughout the tournament, he proved a nightmare for any opponent to play against and was both aggressive and technically brilliant.

What is he doing now?

After playing a bit part in the Boks’ 2011 World Cup campaign, Smith had an operation on his Achilles’ tendon later that year. However, he was forced to announce his retirement from the game subsequently at the beginning of 2013 after the operation failed to resolve the problem. But he made a shock return to playing later in the year with French side Toulon, who handed him a one-year deal after he passed their medical checks. After a successful campaign, Smith was recalled to the Springboks team for the Rugby Championship.

Did you know: His first taste of Rugby World Cup action came later in 2003 when he played in four games at a tournament where South Africa lost in the quarter-finals to New Zealand.

8. Finau Maka (Tonga)

Why was he on the team?

The number eight Finau Maka was an imposing presence and star performer in the Tonga pack that made life distinctly uncomfortable for their pool stage opponents South Africa and England. Maka highlighted a change in style for the Tongan side at the World Cup, with his excellent skills and discipline allowing them to compete at the breakdown with the best in the world. This change was evident when the Tongans were narrowly defeated 30-25 by eventual World Champions South Africa in the next group game.

What is he doing now?

He continued playing for Toulouse until 2010 before hanging up his boots. He then took up boxing but was beaten by Technical knockout in his most recent fight against Brown Butterbean.

Did you know: He scored a try and put in a man of the match on his international debut.

9. Fourie du Preez (South Africa)

Why was he on the team?

The dynamic Springbok scrum-half ripped England to shreds in the 36-0 pool win and set a high standard for himself, which he would continue throughout the tournament.

What is he doing now?

He is seen as a certainty for a starting place at the upcoming World Cup if he can regain full fitness. However, he tore his medial collateral ligaments in his knee at the end of June, putting his fitness and availability in doubt.

Did you know: In 2009, Du Preez was voted South Africa Rugby Player of the year by the South African Rugby Football Union for a second time.

10. Juan Martin Hernandez (Argentina)

Why was he on the team?

The World Cup was Juan Hernandez real arrival on the world stage as he put in a dazzling performance as the Pumas upset the host’s France in the competition opener. The Argentinean effort ended in the semi-final at the hands of eventual champions South Africa, but Hernandez had impressed enough to be nominated for the IRB Player of the Year award for 2007.

What is he doing now?

He missed the 2011 World Cup through injury and since had fallen out of favor with the Pumas. Nevertheless, the 33-year old was recalled to face South Africa in The Rugby Championship in 2015 and showed he still has what it takes. He put in a fantastic kicking display as Argentina recorded their first ever win against the Springboks’.

Did you know: Hernandez made his debut for the Pumas in a 144-0 thrashing of Paraguay in 2003,

11. Bryan Habana (South Africa)

Why was he on the team?

Flying wing Bryan Habana equaled Jonah Lomu’s World Cup record with eight tries in the tournament and proved he is the world’s most lethal winger. Excellent pace matched by the speed of thought and eye for a gap made him the perfect attacker but he showed in the final he can do the dirty work as well.

What is he doing now?

After the World Cup, Bryan Habana was awarded The 2007 IRB Player of the Year. Seven year’s on, aged 32, he is still very much a vital part of the South Africa set up heading into the upcoming 2015 World Cup. He also broke the Boks’ all-time try-scoring record during the 2011 World Cup.

Did you know: Prior to his first year of Super Rugby he was selected for the Springboks, scoring a try with his first touch of the ball in test rugby against England at Twickenham in 2004.

12. Felipe Contepomi (Argentina)

Why was he on the team?

The Puma’s Skipper justified his nomination for the IRB’s player of the year award after playing all seven of Argentina’s World Cup matches. He brought experience and class to the Pumas strong midfield as they finished the tournament in third.

What is he doing now?

Contepomi played his last international game for Argentina in October 2013 against Australia. Contepomi achieved the most test matches played for Argentina (87) and the most points scored in international games (651).

Did you know: He now works with his father in their medical practice in Buenos Aires.

13. Jaque Fourie (South Africa)

Why was he on the team?

The hard-running centre backed up his fighting talk with a series of dominant performances in the Springboks midfield as they won the World Cup in 2007.

What is he doing now?

After playing a part in the Springboks disappointing title defence, his final Test was against France in Paris in November 2013. The former Golden Lions and Western Province player played 72 Tests for the Boks’ in total.

Did you know: In March 2010 a try scored by Fourie was named as the International Rugby Players Association Try of the Year 2009.

14. Vilimoni Delasau (Fiji)

Why was he on the team?

Rapid Fijian winger Vilimoni Delasau scored one of the tournament’s outstanding tries in Fiji’s triumph over Wales. The speedster was impossible to tie down and deserves his place in this team.

What is he doing now?

Following the World Cup he played at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2009 before retiring from international rugby in February 2012.

Did you know: His nickname is Delz.

15. Jason Robinson (England)

Why was he on the team?

Saying his goodbye to Test rugby, fullback Jason Robinson displayed he was one of England’s genuine world-class players. Despite the pain of being forced off injured in the final he played a major part in England’s shock victories against Australia and France.

What is he doing now?

After the World Cup, he retired from rugby but in 2010 announced a shock return to playing with English National League Two North side Fylde where he once again linked up with Brian Ashton. He was instrumental in Fylde’s promotion to National One scoring four tries in 13 appearances

Did you know: Robinson is nicknamed ‘Billy Whizz’ after a character in the British comic The Beano, who is incredibly fast.