The curious case of Elton Jantjies, the defiant and talented Springbok prodigy to Instagram prophet

Elton Jantjies of the Lions tackled byMakazole Mapimpi of Sharks in the Superhero rugby challenge at Cape Town Stadium

The 33-year-old Elton Jantjies (pictured front) in an Instagram post (which has since been removed) said that he would be back on the rugby field ‘sooner than you think’ and is the latest chapter in his controversial career. Picture: Phando Jikelo/Independent Media

Published May 12, 2024

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Earlier this week, banned Springbok rugby player Elton Jantjies attempted to rock the South African rugby landscape once more. Although he initially tested positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol in August last year and was subsequently suspended, he also had his B-sample tested.

That also returned positive for the prohibited substance, leading to a four-year ban imposed in January. The 33-year-old Jantjies in an Instagram post (which has since been removed) said that he would be back on the rugby field “sooner than you think.”

Just exactly what Jantjies has planned next, in what he presumably hopes will be his path to redemption, is no clearer.

Deleted Instagram post

He also went on to say he is preparing for “something much bigger”.

If he did indeed have evidence in a court case appealing his ban, the best approach would have been to say nothing. Instead, he sent out a confusing teaser into the ether. And the fact that the post was later deleted, speaks volumes.

To add further fuel to the case against the player, South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) chief executive Khalid Galant dismissed Jantjies’ claims on Tuesday.

“Whatever is spread on social media will stay there. The matter has been settled,” Galant told Netwerk24.

Perhaps his best course of action for Jantjies is to pen an autobiography, in which the content would have more twists and turns than a Stephen King bestseller. Or even a Netflix series. The money-making potential for his story is huge.

Here’s a former Springbok prodigy, earmarked by many (including myself) as the next Carlos Spencer.

In 2010, Jantjies received the SA Rugby Union Young Player of the Year and the SA Under-20 Player of the Year awards.

In fact, Jantjies’ early comparison to the legendary All Blacks flyhalf was no co-incidence. Spencer was on the coaching staff of the Lions in 2011 when Jantjies was beginning to make a name for himself.

Bright future ahead

Speaking about the 20-year-old Jantjies at the time, Spencer told The Herald: ''There's not many around, those sorts of players come up every now and then, you've just got to lead them in the right direction.

“He has got a very bright future ahead of him. He is keen to learn and wants to develop, and that's all you can ask for.”

High praise indeed from Spencer who was hailed during his playing career (which was blighted by injury) for his incredible kicking and passing game, and tactical nous.

That year, Jantjies led the Lions to the Currie Cup title, with a virtuoso performance at Ellis Park in their 42-16 win in the final over the Sharks. That day, Jantjies didn’t put a foot wrong and scored 24 points on his own. The future couldn’t have been brighter for the supremely talented number 10. It was also the Lions’ first Currie Cup victory since 1999 and first at home in 61 years.

In 2012, Jantjies made his Springbok debut and he would go on to be part of the Green and Gold conversation right up until 2023.

Between 2014 and 2019 Jantjies produced inconsistent performances on the international stage, while rejoining the Lions and regaining some of his past form. He was part of the 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning Bok squad, but didn’t see much game time as Handre Pollard was preferred for SA at No 10.

With Jantjies not included in the team for the final, Pollard shone with six penalties and two conversions as SA beat England 32-12 to claim a third World Cup title.

In May 2022, Jantjies was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport for allegedly harassing an air hostess during a flight. He was charged with “malicious damage to property,” though the charges were later dropped in court due to undisclosed reasons.

Dietician scandal

A few months later in September 2022, reports of an affair with Bok dietician Zeenat Simjee emerged at a guest house in Nelspruit ahead of the Rugby Championship clash against the All Blacks on August 6.

It was reported that a guest complained about the noise coming from the room of Jantjies to which he allegedly responded: “Do you know who I am?”

He was later left out of the 2023 Springbok Rugby World Cup squad.

Of course the latest instalment of his colourful career is the doping ban, though Jantjies says “he has a wonderful legal team and they’re doing their job.”

Defiant as he is talented, Jantjies won’t go down without a fight. Whatever happens though, his best playing days are almost certainly behind him and it’s a real shame he never fully reached his potential.

** Michael Sherman is a digital journalist with IOL Sport.

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