Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies and dietician Zeenat Simjee.
Image via Instagram @eltonjantjies/Facebook @zeenatimaans

Revisiting the Springboks’ three biggest scandals

Uncover the shocking controversies and scandals that have rocked the legendary Springboks rugby team over the years.


Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies and dietician Zeenat Simjee.
Image via Instagram @eltonjantjies/Facebook @zeenatimaans

The Springboks have a storied history filled with incredible victories and memorable moments. However, the team has also been embroiled in several controversial scandals over the years.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the three biggest scandals that have rocked the Springboks: Kamp Staaldraad, the Elton Jantjies affair, and the alleged food poisoning incident during the 1995 Rugby World Cup final.

Kamp Staaldraad: The Controversial Springbok Training Camp

In 2003, the Springboks participated in a controversial pre-World Cup training camp known as Kamp Staaldraad or “Camp Barbed Wire”.

The camp, organized by then-coach Rudolf Straeuli, subjected players to extreme physical and psychological challenges, including being forced to strip naked and huddle in a freezing lake while The Haka and God Save the Queen played over loudspeakers.

Players were also allegedly ordered to crawl naked through animal holes and spend a night in the bush, during which they had to slaughter chickens with their bare hands for food. 

Guns were fired over their heads by soldiers. The camp caused an uproar when details emerged, with allegations of human rights abuses. Straeuli denied the most serious claims but was eventually dismissed as coach.

Elton Jantjies and the Team Dietician Affair Scandal

In 2022, Springbok fly-half Elton Jantjies was sent home from a trip to Argentina amid reports of an affair with team dietician Zeenat Simjee. Both Jantjies and Simjee initially denied the allegations and were sent home to deal with the scandal.

However, Jantjies later admitted to his wife Iva Ristic and the public that he did have an affair with Simjee for several months. Jantjies expressed regret for a misleading press release that portrayed him as having drug and mental health issues, which he denies.

While Jantjies went to rehab for insomnia, Simjee returned to work with the Springboks, much to Jantjies’ frustration. Ristic has confirmed she intends to divorce Jantjies and has spoken out against Simjee’s continued employment. The scandal has derailed Jantjies’ career, with him being dropped from the Springboks’ end-of-year tour.

The 1995 Rugby World Cup Final Food Poisoning Scandal

On the eve of the 1995 Rugby World Cup final between South Africa and New Zealand, several All Blacks players fell violently ill with food poisoning. Coach Laurie Mains alleged the team was deliberately poisoned, implicating a mysterious waitress named “Suzie“.

However, many dispute the claims as unproven, with some pointing to the All Blacks’ choice to eat seafood before the final as the likely culprit. The Springboks went on to win the match 15-12 in a historic moment for the nation. While theories about betting syndicates and poisoning persist, no definitive evidence of foul play has emerged.

Conclusion on the Springboks’ Biggest Scandals

The Springboks’ three biggest scandals – Kamp Staaldraad, Elton Jantjies affair, and the 1995 World Cup food poisoning – have left an indelible mark on South African rugby. While some controversies remain shrouded in mystery and debate, they serve as reminders of the intense pressure and scrutiny faced by one of the world’s most famous rugby teams.

As the Springboks continue to compete at the highest level, they will undoubtedly hope to make headlines for their on-field exploits rather than off-field scandals in the years to come.