|Date of birth||29 October 1991|
|Place of birth||Cape Town, South Africa|
|Height||2.03 m (6 ft 8 in)|
|Weight||123 kg (271 lb; 19 st 5 lb)|
|University||University of Cape Town|
|Occupation(s)||Professional rugby player|
|Rugby union career|
Eben Etzebeth (born 29 October 1991) is a South African professional rugby player who currently plays for the South Africa national team and Toulon in the Top 14 in France. His regular playing position is as a number 4 lock.
Etzebeth was marked out as a player of huge promise from an early age when playing for Hoërskool Tygerberg in Cape Town and he entered the Western Province youth structures in 2009, featuring in the Under-18 Craven Week tournament. In 2011, his career moved up a gear when he was part of the UCT Ikey Tigers side which won the Varsity Cup, however injury stalled his progress in the second half of the year and he was unable to play any part in the 2011 Currie Cup.
His injury didn't stop him from being named in the Stormers squad for the 2012 Super Rugby season. He recovered from injury in time for the start of the campaign and debuted on 25 February 2012 against the Hurricanes. In total, he made 13 appearances during the season and managed to score 1 try as the Stormers won 14 of their 16 league matches before eventually losing to the Sharks in the semi-finals.
International commitments kept him out of the early stages of the 2012 Currie Cup, but he returned at the tail-end of the tournament, winning his first 3 Western Province caps and helping them to lift their first Currie Cup title since 2002. He was awarded the Man of the Match award as Province gained revenge on the Sharks with a 25-18 win in Durban.
Injury ruled Etzebeth out of the first half of the 2013 Super Rugby season, but he returned for the second half of the campaign, playing 8 matches and scoring 1 try. He also won a team-high 47 lineouts and effected 8 steals on opposition throws. For the 2013 Currie Cup, Etzebeth was again missing for large chunks of the season due to Springbok commitments, however he once again returned for the final 3 matches of the season. This time he was unable to stop the Sharks from regaining the Currie Cup by turning the tables on Western Province with a 33-19 win in Cape Town.
The first 6 months of 2014 saw Etzebeth a foot injury sustained while on international duty in November 2013 ruled him out of the entire campaign. He remained committed to both of his Cape Town-based sides and in April 2013, he signed a deal that would keep him tied to Western Province and the Stormers until 2016.
Etzebeth was yellow-carded following a fight with Blues loose forward Akira Ioane in 2017.
He made his first appearance in the second row alongside fellow debutant Juandré Kruger on 9 June 2012 at Kings Park Stadium, Durban. South Africa were victorious by 22-17. Despite suffering from some injury setbacks along the way, Etzebeth has maintained his position as first choice in the number 4 jersey throughout his Springbok career. By the end of the 2014 Rugby Championship he had made 29 appearances for his national team and is yet to score a try. Uniquely he has made more international appearances than he has Super Rugby and Currie Cup appearances combined. He also debuted for South Africa before he had played any Vodacom Cup or Currie Cup rugby for Western Province.
On 23 November 2013 he was nominated for the 2013 IRB Player of the Year award along with Leigh Halfpenny, Sergio Parisse, Kieran Read and Ben Smith. He has very impressive upper body strength for man of his huge height and young age, being able to bench press 385 pounds (175 kg), and perform incline dumbbell chest presses with 175 pounds (79 kg) dumbbells.
Etzebeth was selected by the Springboks in the 31-man squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, making an appearance in every one of the team's pool matches, including one off the bench in South Africa's historic 32-34 loss to Japan. After starting in the rest of the pool matches, Etzebeth started in the quarter-final win against Wales and semi-final 18-20 narrow loss to New Zealand. On 30 October 2015, with the Springboks having been knocked out of the chance to win the World Cup, Etzebeth started in a locking partnership with retiring captain Victor Matfield against Argentina for the Bronze Final. Etzebeth played the full 80 minutes of the bronze final and scored a try in the 43rd minute, helping South Africa to win third place in the competition.
Etzebeth played his 50th test for South Africa, against Australia in round 3 of the 2016 Rugby Championship and became the youngest South African player in history to reach the milestone, being only 24 years old at the time. The match was a disappointment for the Springboks and for Etzebeth, who was yellow-carded in the 41st minute of their 17-23 loss against the Wallabies.
After captaining the Springboks to beat France 35-12 in the final match of a three-test series between the two sides, Etzebeth was named as captain of the Springboks for the 2017 Rugby Championship, replacing newly appointed captain Warren Whiteley who was ruled out of the competition with an injury sustained in the second test of the French series. Whiteley failed to recover prior to the end of the 2017 season so this saw Etzebeth carry a huge workload for South Africa in 2017, playing the full 80 minutes of every match in the 2017 Rugby Championship and three-test French series. Etzebeth's 2017 campaign included what was arguably the best performance of his career in a narrow 24-25 loss to New Zealand in Cape Town.
After playing the full 80 minutes in South Africa's 3-38 loss to Ireland and 18-17 win over France on the end-of-year-tour, Etzebeth was finally subbed off for the first time in 2017 where he was replaced by Franco Mostert in a 35-6 win over Italy. Etzebeth was subbed off at half-time in the final test of 2017 where South Africa lost 22-24 against Wales, picking up a back injury. Etzebeth is expected to return to Super Rugby in May.
Pld = Games Played, W = Games Won, D = Games Drawn, L = Games Lost, Tri = Tries Scored, Pts = Points Scored
|1||Australia||Brisbane, Australia||Suncorp Stadium||2015 Rugby Championship||18 July 2015||Lost 20-24|
|1||Argentina||London, United Kingdom||Olympic Stadium||2015 Rugby World Cup||30 October 2015||Won 24-13|
|1||France||Johannesburg, South Africa||Ellis Park||Test match||24 June 2017||Won 35-12|
|2014||Stormers||Did not play|
|2018||Stormers||Did not play|