DHL Stormers legend: Schalk Brits

PUBLISHED: April 15, 2024

A player very much ahead of his time, the versatile Schalk Brits stood out as an X-factor forward for the DHL Stormers.

Brits, who earned more than 50 caps for the DHL Stormers over two stints in Cape Town, was a popular figure among teammates and fans for the pure joy he took from playing the game.

Able to sidestep tacklers like a winger as well as offload like a centre, the Paul Roos Gimnasium alum starred at hooker and loose forward, something that has since become more common in modern rugby.

Brits’ career started in the Western Cape, where he represented DHL Western Province at U18, U19, U21 and Vodacom Cup level. Following a stint in Johannesburg with the Emirates Lions, he returned home in 2006 and captained the DHL Stormers on debut in a Super Rugby warm-up match against the Vodacom Bulls.

Once back with the DHL Stormers, Brits planted roots in Cape Town, making 51 appearances across four seasons. It was at the DHL Stormers that Brits first connected with Rassie Erasmus, who took over as head coach in 2008 and headed up the franchise as Director of Rugby until 2011.

Brits left the DHL Stormers in 2009 as part of an influx of South Africans to English club Saracens. He returned to the DHL Stormers on a short-term loan during the 2011 Super Rugby season, and he came on as a substitute for Duane Vermeulen in the back row in the semifinal against the Crusaders.

Heading back to London, Brits went on to become a key player in a golden era for Saracens, winning four English Premiership titles (2011, 2015, 2016 and 2018) and two Investec Champions Cup crowns in 2016 and 2017.

Brits made his Springbok bow off the bench against Italy at Newlands Stadium in 2008, the first of 15 Test caps in the green and gold.

He hung up his boots in 2019, but came out of retirement at the Vodacom Bulls after a call from Erasmus ahead of the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan that year.

Brits was 38 years old when he lifted the Webb Ellis Cup, having led his country in the pool stage match against Namibia in Aichi, where he started at No.8, before making his final appearance at hooker against Canada.

Brits’ DHL Stormers numbers

52 – The number of matches he played for the DHL Stormers from 2006 to 2009, 2011

4 – The number of tries he scored for the DHL Stormers