Johnny Lourens, forever a hero when the Currie Cup's past is mentioned, died on the night of 12 February 2014. He was 89.
Forever he will be remembered as the man who scored the try that won the Currie Cup for the first time for Northern Transvaal, a union then just eight years old.
While Lourens was a hero, the man who contributed to his heroism was plunged into a slough of despond - Con de Kock, the Western Province fullback.
Time was up, Western Province were winning 9-8 when in desperation Hansie Brewis, who had dropped two goals for the eight points, kicked downfield. 22-year-old Lourens chased. The ball was rolling to touch when tall, bronzed, handsome Con de Kock came smiling across to foot the ball into touch and take the Currie Cup back to Newlands. The ball is oval and the kick went wrong, but Lourens, at the age of 86, told what had happened.
"I remember the match well. It was late in the second half and we were in our own 25. There was a line-out and just before Daan Retief [former Springbok flank who played on the wing that day] threw the ball into the line-out, our captain, Hansie Brewis asked the referee about the time left.
"He said one minute. Daan threw in; Fiks van der Merwe [Springbok flank] won the ball and passed it to Hansie [Brewis].
"Hansie kicked the ball and as soon as he did, I started to chase. The ball landed near the Western Province 25 and fullback Con de Kock tried to kick it into touch. Instead, he kicked it straight to me and I ran in for the try. There was chaos at Loftus as we won 11-9."
Lourens was 22 at the time.
"There was more than 40 000 spectators at the game and people camped outside for tickets. We still played in powder blue jerseys without the daisy. Very few people knew, but the final was suppose to be in Cape Town, but was moved to Pretoria after the Northern Transvaal Rugby Union offered to bring the Western Province team north on the Blue Train [luxury train].
"The poor Con went back to Cape Town on his own and not with his teammates. He never played again"
De Kock played in lower leagues in the Boland the next year. Lourens later worked for National Intelligence. He tells of a chance meeting.
"In 1983, while I was on duty in Cape Town, I bumped into Con. We had coffee, but did not talk about rugby!"
Lourens played for Northern Transvaal 22 times between 1944 and 1952. He played for Tukkies and then for Police. In the 1946 season he set a record for tries in a season for Northern Transvaal - 13 that year. But he did not go to the Springbok trials which were held in Pretoria in 1949.
Lourens was the last living player in that Final following the recent deaths of Attie Botha of Northern Transvaal and Francis Mellish of Western Province.
For Northern Transvaal:
DGs: Brewis 2
For Western Province:
Tries: Koch, Vos
Pens: De Kock 2
Northern Transvaal: George Symington, Johnnie Lourens, Attie Botha, Hannes de Villiers, Daan Retief, Hansie Brewis, Fonnie du Toit, Floors Perry, Louis Strydom, Doerie van Deventer, Flip Geel (captain, Fiks van der Merwe, Vuile van Rensburg, Jorrie Jordaan , Jan Botha
Western Province: Con de Kock, Basil Butler, Dennis Fry, Nellis Beyers, Otto van Niekerk, Billy Griffiths, Balie Wahl, Bubbles Koch, Hannes Morkel, George van Reenen, Piet Kriel (captain), Stephen Fry, Francis Mellish, Jack Vos, Tank van Dyk.
Referee: Carl Basson (Northern Transvaal)
R.I.P. - John Petrus Lourens was born on 9 August 1924. He died on 12 February 2014.