Brendan Venter

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Brendan Venter
Date of birth (1969-12-29) 29 December 1969 (age 44)
Place of birth Johannesburg, South Africa
Height 1.84 m (6 ft 12 in)
Weight 86 kg (190 lb)
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Centre, Wing
Provincial/State sides
Years Club / team Caps (points)
Free State
Western Province
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1994-1999  South Africa 17 (10)

Brendan Venter (born 29 December 1969, Johannesburg, South Africa) is a former rugby union player who played at centre and also coached for London Irish. He is currently Technical Director at Saracens.[1] He is a qualified MD (physician).[citation needed]

Venter came on as replacement for James Small in the 1995 Rugby World Cup final in which South Africa beat New Zealand to land their first world cup. He was red-carded in the 1999 World Cup for stamping against Uruguay in the pool stages, he was replaced by Pieter Muller for the rest of the tournament. The Springboks were knocked out in the semi-finals, defeated by Australia.'

He has 17 caps as a Springbok rugby player, representing South Africa between 1994 and 1999.[2]


Venter started off playing rugby for South African schools. He said that even then his studies came first. "I was a good rugby player at school. I saw it as a tool to get a degree—my parents weren't very wealthy. I decided that if I made it as a rugby player it would be a bonus but that even if I didn't it would pay for my studies and I could become a doctor." Venter went to the University of the Orange Free State to study medicine and play rugby. After too much partying in his first year, he just scraped through his exams. "I had a real reality check. I had to decide if I really wanted to be a rugby player or a doctor. So when I went back in my second year there was a complete change in attitude, and rugby took second place. I was determined to be a good doctor and felt that I had to give my studies priority in order to achieve this."

The Rugby World Cup took place in 1995, and after this rugby turned professional. However Venter still continued to practise as a doctor: "I was very lucky. Although we were professional, training in my province only started at five in the afternoon. So I had the whole day to work as a GP in my own practice as well as doing afternoons in anaesthetics. The rugby training was really my stress relief."

In 2001 Venter came back to the United Kingdom with his wife and two children to coach and play for London Irish. "I was very analytical as a player and had always wanted to try out my ideas as a coach." Concurrently he has continued to fit in GP locum work as well as dealing with his team's medical needs.

He believes that medicine helps him be a better coach: "When I am faced with a coaching problem, I fall back on the principles I was taught as a doctor. I have learnt that sometimes it doesn't matter how much you know, how committed you are, how much work you put in. Sometimes there are variables that you can't predict. Medicine taught me to accept that there are some things I can't change."

However, recently he has admitted that when it comes to the crunch, he would always choose rugby over medicine, citing his newfound love of the game after joining Saracens as DOR in 2009.

On 13 May 2010 Venter was charged with misconduct by the RFU for allegedly pushing a Leicester Tigers supporter who had asked him to sit down as he was blocking the view of the paying fans as well as making inappropriate comments and gestures to spectators. In his defence, Venter has described the incident as a bit of fun and the chief executive and the club owner of Saracens have defended Venter, claiming they considered it out of character for him. He has an existing four-week suspended ban from an incident earlier in the season. Venter eventually received a 10-week ban from rugby.

In November he was found guilty of misconduct due to being "inappropriately critical of ERC, the tournament, the match officials and the sport of rugby union" by ERC after he complained about the referee following his side losing at home in a key match when he considered them to be the better side, comments from neutral fans have expressed surprise at his opinions as his side were seen as out played and out thought by the opposing team. He was fined £21,850, but £13,100 was suspended until 30 June 2012.

In December, Venter was warned by the ERC after giving a bizarre post-match interview following the Saracens defeat to Racing Métro 92 in the Heineken cup. Venter gave extremely short answers to every question posed to him, and afterwards admitted that he was inspired from a comedy sketch from the film Mike Bassett: England Manager which he had recently watched.[3] The interview has since become a hit on YouTube.[4]

In June 2013, he was appointed the Director of Rugby at the Natal Sharks, effective from the start of the 2013 Currie Cup Premier Division season.[5]


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