Breyton Paulse (born 25 April 1976 in De Keur, Koue Bokkeveld) is a former South African rugby union player who played on the wing for the national team, the Springboks, from 1999 to 2007.
By the time Paulse was entering secondary school, apartheid was being dismantled, meaning that his status as Coloured would have no effect on his rugby aspirations. However, his size proved to be a major concern; at his adult size of 1.78 m, 80 kg (5’10”, 180 lb), he was thought to be too small to play top-flight rugby. Despite his size, his tremendous speed (he was a former South Africa Schools champion at 200 and 400 m) ensured that he would receive a serious look from selectors at all levels.
Paulse garnered attention almost from the start of his top-flight rugby career with a hat-trick of tries in his first Currie Cup match in 1996, and eventually made his first Springboks appearance in 1999. In his first appearance for the Springboks against Italy, he scored a hat-trick. As of 7 August 2005, he has amassed 54 appearances for the Springboks, placing him in the top seven all-time for Springboks caps, and scored 22 tries. Perhaps his most notable Springboks match was a two-try performance against Australia in the 2002 Tri Nations. In the Currie Cup, playing mainly for Western Province, he has averaged nearly a try a match.
Paulse moved to France for the 2005–2006 season and played for Clermont Auvergne in the Top 14. He remained eligible for Springboks selection, as SA Rugby abandoned its past policy of requiring that Springbok players play domestic rugby in South Africa. Springboks coach Jake White indeed selected him for the 2005 Tri Nations, and started him in South Africa’s first three matches. Paulse scored an important try in South Africa’s series-opening 22-16 win over Australia. However, in the Springboks’ third match (against Australia), Paulse received a three-week suspension for kicking Australian prop Al Baxter.
In the seasons of 1997 and 1998, Paulse was predominantly playing fullback. Paulse became comfortable at wing and developed into a fine player, using his blistering pace to score many tries. In the end of 2006, Paulse was picked by the Stormers franchise to be part of their team for the 2007 Super 14 where he strengthened his chances to once again don the Springboks colors. He was selected for the squad that was present at the 2003 Rugby World Cup finals, but was only selected to the 2007 Rugby World Cup finals, as a reserve player.
On his retirement from the national side, Paulse had put in 64 tests and 10 tour matches for the Springboks and scored 26 tries. His last appearance in the green and gold was against New Zealand at Christchurch in 2007 at the age of 31.
Paulse began what has become a trend when he took up mountain biking after retiring from international sport and completed the Absa Cape Epic in 2009. Paulse completed the Untamed African MTB Race as an individual finisher after his partner and local pro, Linus van Onselen, withdrew from the race.
He is currently one of the in-studio presenters for Supersport and can also be seen commentating on match days.