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Contemporary backs die

Sat, 02 Feb 2013 21:42

Alan Read of Western Province and Tommy Symons of Transvaal, opponents on the field, died within days of each other. Both were three-quarters.

Read died suddenly at his home in Keurbooms River on 29 January 2013.

Alan Oliver Read was born in Cradock on 3 September 1948 and educated at Cradock Boys' High..

After school he went to Cape Town to learn about being a building contractor and played for Hamiltons. Later he played for Stellenbosch for a while. In 1970 Read made his debut for Western Province at centre against Griquas in Kimberley, the same match that Morné du Plessis made his debut. The big, blond, fearless three-quarter was more effective on the wing, using his speed and strength to good effect. He played for Western Province from 1970 to 1974. He then moved to the Plettenberg Bay area where the family owned property, played for the Knysna club and for South Western Districts. He also went to Italy with Dugald Macdonald and played for Parma.

In 1972 the Gazelles toured Argentina and Read was sent a cross as a replacement for Kerrie van Eyk who had injured an eye early in the tour. Read played in five matches on the tour, none against the Pumas. In 1974, playing left wing, Read scored a try against the Lions, taking a pass from Macdonald.

A larger-than-life character, Read was also a lifesaver at famous, glamorous Clifton with it beaches.

A building contractor, Read lived by himself at Keurbooms River, near Plettenberg Bay. Two weeks before he died Peter Whipp and Dugald Macdonald went up to see him and Read proclaimed himself well. In effect, though, his systems had broken down. He is survived by two daughters.

Tommy Symons died in Zuid-Afrikaanse Hospital in Pretoria after a long period of kidney problems.

Like Jimmy Kotze before him, Symons was known as the Simmer Express during his long and great career. He played for Transvaal 85 times between 1966 and 1977 - a centre, a wing or (twice) a fullback, scoring 45 tries. His debit was against Rhodesia at Ellis Park on 4 June 1966. There was a long time between his six 1966 matches and his next selection - one match in 1969 and then in 1971 when he became an automatic selection for Transvaal. In 1971 he played against France for Transvaal and in the Currie Cup Final. In 1974, like Read, he played against the great Lions. In 1973 he scored five tries in a match against Newport.

Like Read, Symons played for the Gazelles - in 1971 against the touring Pumas. He was also a Junior Springbok - in days when it was virtually a Springbok second team - and a Springbok trialist, unlucky not to have been a Springbok.

Thomas Alfred Williams Symons was born in Germiston on 8 April 1945. He went to school at Dr EG Jansen in Boksburg and played for Germiston Simmer. He is survived by his wife Estelle, their children and grandchildren.