Currie Cup: All-Time XV
Recently I received a brief to choose my best Currie Cup side of all time. It is a fun thing to do.
Recently I received a brief to choose my best Currie Cup side of all time. It is a fun thing to do and there are klippe in bosse enough to cause debate.
There probably is bias but it seems that a national coach may not always be without bias.
There will be more from Western Province because they have done better than all the rest.
I have given a list of those I see as candidates in each position and then made my choice. I have seen 13 of my 15 in action on the field. For the other two I have relied on the insistent voice of history, especially that of Oubaas Markötter.
I have set out to choose my best Currie Cup XV - not a team of Springbok all-stars and so there may be some raised eyebrows. I have given brief reasons for my choice, and heavens they are hard choices!
Oddly enough, it's harder for the modern star to get into a Currie Cup All-Star team because they do not play Currie Cup matches as often with the same impact.
Stars: Gerrie Brand, HO de Villiers, Johan Heunis, Gysie Pienaar, André Joubert
My choice: HO de Villiers, who changed the way the world played fullback - the swashbuckling, adventurous, skilled, strong, recklessly brave hero of the rugby field. People went to Newlands just to see HO play.
Stars: Bob Loubser, DO Williams, Otto van Niekerk, Jannie Engelbrecht, Ray Mordt, Agie Koch, Hermanus Potgieter, Tony Watson, Chester Williams
My choice: Agie Koch - so strong so fast, swerving stepping and doing it both ways. I once sat with several of his team-mated at the airport in Kimberley, picking out 'best-ever team' and they were unanimous that the best-ever wing of that time was Agie Koch who never did become a Springbok.
In days not long ago, centres played left and right, not inside and outside. We have tried to accommodate the past to the present.
Stars: Japie Krige, Louis Babrow, John Gainsford, Ian Kirkpatrick, Peter Whipp, Danie Gerber, Michael du Plessis, Jaque Fourie
My choice: John Gainsford and Michael du Plessis
It's heartrending not to choose Danie Gerber but in fact John Gainsford, big and forceful, captain of Western Province when they won the Currie Cup had a bigger impact than an impact-full player in a team with little impact on the Currie Cup, not even a single final. And then we have picked a clever man on Gainsford's inside - a tough genius of great skill, strength and speed.
Stars: Freddie Turner, electric Billy Anderson, Mannetjies Roux, Gerrie Germishuys, Carel du Plessis, Breyton Paulse, Bryan Habana
My choice: the smooth, gliding Carel du Plessis, dabbing the ball down for a try.
Stars: Bennie Osler, Hansie Brewis, Piet Visagie, who broke from a scrum and ran 40 yards to score a try against the All Blacks, Naas Botha, Henry Honiball
My choice: Naas Botha. The Currie Cup is there to be won and Naas was a winner. Just remember that day in the rain and hail at Ellis Park. Transvaal scored two tries, Northern Transvaal none but Naas, probably the best wet-weather player ever, kicked four penalties and four drops for 24 points. Naas could do it all - ran faster, catch and pass better and kick with length and accuracy. I'll bet he could tackle, too, if he needed to.
Stars: Pierre de Villiers, Danie Craven, Dawie de Villiers, Piet Uys, Divan Serfontein Joost van der Westhuizen, Fourie du Preez
My choice: Divan Serfontein who made such a wondrous contribution in Western Province's five in a row - alert, dedicated, speedy and a leader.
Stars: André Macdonald, Hennie Muller, Doug Hopwood, Morné du Plessis, Gary Teichmann
My choice: Gary Teichmann - the honourable man who ushered in Natal's era of glory after playing wallflowers for so long.
There was less talk in the past about openside and blindside, 6 and 7. I have just nominated flanks and picked two.
Stars: Stephen Fry, Basie van Wyk, Hugo van Zyl, Martin Pelser, Jan Ellis, Thys Lourens, Piet Greyling, Jan Boland Coetzee, Gert Smal, Burger Geldenhuys, Theuns Stofberg, Rob Louw, Ruben Kruger, André Venter, Juan Smith
My choice: Theuns Stofberg and Thys Lourens.
When Stofberg played for the Free State, they won the Currie Cup, and the same goes for the Northern Transvaal and Western Province. Thys Lourens captained Northern Transvaal in the era of their greatness, forming a triumvirate with Naas and Buurman van Zyl., a man who never gave less than his very best.
Stars: Phil Nel, Mauritz van den Bergh with one leg shorter than the other, Johan Claassen, Salty du Rand, Jan Pickard, Avril Malan, Frik du Preez, Moaner van Heerden, John Williams, Louis Moolman, Kevin de Klerk, Mark Andrews, Victor Matfield.
My choice: Frik du Preez and Jan Pickard.
Frik, the all-round genius wat gedrop, geplace en gescore het and Jan Pickard who had a massive impact on the Currie Cup, first as brave player and great leader and then as a president who wanted above all, the Currie Cup for his union.
Stars: Barry Heatlie, Phil Mostert, Boy Louw, Chris Koch, Jaap Bekker, Mof Myburgh, Piet du Toit, Frans Erasmus, Henning van Aswegen, Os du Randt
My choice: Barry Heatlie and Boy Louw.
I did not see either of them play but Markötter believed that Heatlie - 'I played with him and against him,' - was the best all-round forward South Africa ever produced, still the youngest Springbok forward of all time. He played in 28 Currie Cup matches for Western Province between 1892 and 1904 and his side won every single one and won the Currie Cup every time.
Nobody played for Western Province with a greater passion than Boy Louw. Rugby was his life and most of that rugby was for Western Province as player, coach, selector and motivator. He could also play in any position in the scrum.
Stars: Jan Lotz, Abie Malan, Gys Pitzer, Piston van Wyk, Uli Schmidt, John Smit, Bismarck du Plessis
The nature of the position has changed. They are still called hookers but do not hook as they did in olden times, trying to get the opponents' ball.
My choice: Jan Lotz who played for Transvaal on both sides of World War II, a rugged man who was a hooker and much more than a hooker.
My All-Star Currie Cup team
15 HO de Villiers
14 Agie Koch
13 John Gainsford
12 Michael du Plessis
11 Carel du Plessis
10 Naas Botha
9 Divan Serfontein
8 Gary Teichmann
7 Theuns Stofberg
6 Thys Lourens
5 Frik du Preez
4 Jan Pickard
3 Boy Louw
2 Jan Lotz
1 Barry Heatlie
Captain: Barry Heatlie. Nobody will ever equal what he achieved.
By Paul Dobson