W.P Nel signed with Edinburgh on a three-year contract in the summer of 2012 and soon established himself as a firm fan favourite due to his commitment to the jersey.
As a stand-out for Western Province in the 2008 Vodacom Cup, Nel was loaned to Boland Kaveliers to compete in the Currie Cup, where he was spotted, and snapped up, by the Free State Cheetahs.
Nel stayed a Cheetah for four years from his Super Rugby debut against the Waratah’s at the tail end of 2009.
He then starred in the club’s journey to the Currie Cup final in which his highlight was undoubtedly a semi-final overpowering of Natal Sharks’ South Africa internationalist Tendai ‘the Beast’ Mtawarira.
These fledgling performances paved the way for Nel’s selection for the Cheetah’s narrow loss to the British & Irish Lions in 2009 (24-26), where he packed down against his former teammate Ross Ford, before starting as the only non-capped player in the Barbarians’ win over the All Blacks at Twickenham (25-18).
The front-row qualified to play for Scotland through residency in 2015, and made his debut for the national team against Italy in Turin, before playing a pivotal role throughout the subsequent Rugby World Cup campaign.
Nel surpassed the 100 cap mark with Edinburgh against Leinster in September 2016, and committed to the club on a three-year deal ahead of the 2017/18 season. Known for his ferocious scrummaging and abrasive ball carrying, Nel has been a mainstay in Edinburgh’s front-row since arriving in the capital.
Nel’s impressive form continued into the 2018/19 season where his technique at scrum time and willingness to carry came to the fore in a Man of the Match performance against Montpellier as Edinburgh secured passage to the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup.
After going to his second Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019 – where he continued to play a pivotal role in the Scottish pack – the tighthead was back to his best for his club as Edinburgh Rugby reached the Semi-Finals of the Guinness PRO14 in 2019-20.
Nel put pen-to-paper on a new deal with the club in February 2021 that will see the Scotland cap enter his tenth season in the Scottish capital.
Player number: 1160
Date of birth: 30/04/1986
Edinburgh Debut: 01/09/2012
Place of birth: Loeriesfontein, South Africa