Rotate the pictures for a Cobus Grobbelaar gallery
Cobus Grobbelaar, one of the greatest legends in the 123 years of Transvaal and Lions Rugby, has decided to call it a day.
And fittingly the Currie Cup semifinal against Western Province on Saturday will be a benefit match for the likeable openside flank who never represented any other rugby province in South Africa since his debut for the Golden Lions Under-21 in 2002.
Grobbelaar will be given a percentage of the gate takings from Saturday's match.
It would indeed be fitting if the Lions supporters flocked to Coca-Cola Park on Saturday to support the benefit day and to pay homage to a man who has passed Dries Maritz's record of 91 Currie Cup matches for the Lions.
In total Grobbelaar has played 112 matches for the Golden Lions, as well as 70 Super Rugby matches for the Lions and 24 for the Cats.
With his Under-16 and under-18 provincial schools matches, as well as years spent playing for the Lions Under-19 and Under-21 teams, and also appearances for the Lions' former Merit A and Vodacom Cup sides, Grobbelaar was closing in on 250 matches for the Golden Lions, Lions and Cats when he decided to call it a day.
He is to pursue a career in sports management.
Baywatch, as the former RAU student is also called, first burst onto the senior scene in 2003 when he played Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup rugby for the Golden Lions. In 2004 his game had matured enough and he gave his first steps in the tough Super 12 competition, playing for the Cats, a combined team of the Lions and Cheetahs. He played well enough in that year's Super 12 campaign to be included in the SA ‘A' side for the outgoing tour to America.
His highlights over the years are many. "But my first Currie Cup match for the Golden Lions, and last year's winning of the Currie Cup, are the outstanding highlights," he said in reminiscing about his past.
A born leader, the former Jan Viljoen High School player took over the Lions captaincy in 2007. He was a player who led by example. He was one of the outstanding ‘fetchers' in the country and undoubtedly came close to selection for the national side – and honour that would surely have come his way if he had been part of a stronger outfit in his best years when the Lions were struggling in especially the Super Rugby competitions.
A serious injury put paid to Grobbelaar's rugby in 2010 when he was out of action for more than eight months – but he was part of the resurgence of the Golden Lions when they won the Currie Cup in 2011, being on the field as a replacement when the final hooter went after the 42-16 walloping of the Sharks in the final.
In 2007 Grobbelaar was in the starting side that went down 18-20 to the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein with the winning points coming minutes before the end.
Fitting as awarding of the benefit match to this great stalwart of Lions Rugby is, the greatest going-away present for Baywatch would undoubtedly be the successful defence of the Currie Cup in a final in 10 days' time.
* Rotate the pictures for a Cobus Grobbelaar gallery!