Apr 27, 2017
Neil De Kock: A Saracens Legend
Neil De Kock will be playing his final Saracens game when he takes to the pitch to face Bristol on Saturday afternoon. The now bona-fide club legend has been in North London for 11 years now and has seen the club rise to become one of Europe’s most successful clubs during his spell.
Born in Cape Town in 1978, one of four boys, De Kock grew up in a sporting family where he pursued a career in rugby. He began playing at the dawn of the professional era after the 1995 World Cup had been played out in his home country. He attended Stellenbosch University before joining Griffons in the Free State province in 1999.
After spending a season at Griffons and producing great performances, he was offered the opportunity to return to play with his home state side Western Province. It was here where he experienced a breakthrough, winning the prestigious Currie Cup in the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
In the 2001 season he began to represent the province’s associated Super Rugby side, The Stormers, before international recognition followed. He made his Springboks debut on 30 June 2001 against Italy in Port Elizabeth before going on to gain a further 9 caps. The last of these came in the quarter-final of the 2003 World Cup against New Zealand in Melbourne.
He continued to star for Western Province and the Stormers before the opportunity arose to ply his trade with Saracens in 2006. During his first season at the club he established himself as a fan’s favourite, forming a seamless partnership with Glenn Jackson as Sarries reached the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup.
In the 2007/2008 season he was selected as team captain to work alongside fellow legend Richard Hill, who was club captain. In over 250 appearances, his top-class performances played a crucial part in the revolution of Sarries. He played an integral part in the 2011 Premiership triumph.
He has continued with his same standard of excellence ever since. A humble and consummate professional he has proved a valuable mentor to the current crop of players in recent years. Both Richard Wigglesworth and Ben Spencer have benefitted from the now 38-year-old’s vast experience and knowledge of the game as the club has pushed on to win the 2015 Premiership along with the famous double in 2016.
The game against Bristol may represent the end of an era for Saracens and De Kock but he will leave with nothing but fantastic memories and a lasting legacy as one of the club’s true legends.
Don’t miss out on thanking some of Saracens finest players for their tremendous service to the Club on Saturday when the Men in Black face Bristol in the final regular home game of the season at Allianz Park. A limited amount of tickets are still available from saracens.com/tickets.