May 29, 2012 in Rugby
It’s with great sadness that I inform you that the man who’s writing many of us admired, enjoyed, sometimes argued with but always found interesting, has passed away. Rugby Guru, as he was known on these blogs, passed away this morning at around 10AM. The message posted this his friends on facebook read: “Just know that he is no longer in pain, and he left this world on is own terms and he is in a better place with his ass intact (which is exactly the way he wanted).” My sincere condolences to his family.
I personally did not know him for that long, nor really knew him in his personal life, but we’ve had a few chats over the years and I truly respected him and enjoyed his views. The one thing I will always remember was his unique way of seeing the Rugby in this country, and hopefully, he would not mind me repeating perhaps one of the pieces he wrote that made it many times around the country. I even received it on email from people who never read the blogs.
I see this as a sort of a tribute, not just to a blogger, but a legend in his own right. Rugby Guru.
Read it on the Guru’s blog here, and while you are at it, read his other posts. Well worth the time!
Watson – The Final Chapter By Rugby Guru (29 October 2008)
With the Currie Cup behind us and the Autumn Internationals still two weeks away I thought it might be a good idea to share with you an extract from the up and coming unofficial biography of Luke Watson. The book is called Luke Watson: What a Cheeky Boy and is due to be published some time around 2015. This extract gives insight into the lives of a few South Africans before a very special test match. Don’t ask how the guru got his hands on this copy.
The First Real Test Match
1 April 2014
Luke was strangely excited. The game against Kenya promised to be a close one and with the government’s new official policy of “participation over triumph” (or Pot) there was no real pressure on the team. He supported the concept of Pot even if ‘uncle Mike Stofile’ had been laughed at when he had once declared to a press conference that the game of rugby had now officially gone to Pot. The change-room at the Zola Yeye Stadium in Pretoria (formerly Loftus Versfeld) was full of players all resplendent in their black, yellow and green striped jerseys. Luke felt a sense of pride as he slipped the jersey over his head, the official jersey of South Africa’s representative rugby side the Gironkey’s. The new emblem had been as much a personal crusade for the Watson’s as their earlier opposition to segregated rugby back in the 1970’s. In the interests of democracy a vote had been held to determine which animal best summed up the values and positioning of the new transformed side and with a dead heat between the Giraffes and the Donkeys a new brand had been born – the Gironkey. Luke, just as his father had predicted, was the first captain of the Gironkey’s and at last the bitter memories of playing with Dutchmen and wearing the despicable Springbok badge could be washed away.
In the private suite that overlooked the brown dying grass of the stadium the President of the South African Rugby Board, Mr Cheeky Watson looked on with pride. The attendance had begun to swell as kick off approached and he was sure that local support now outnumbered the fifty fans that had made the journey down from Nairobi. The game was being televised after the late night porno’s on E-TV for maximum exposure and the sponsors Vodacom would be thrilled that attendance was at last into triple figures. The destruction of rugby and more importantly of the Springbok had been a difficult task but the personal sacrifice would be worth it. He was thrilled to be presiding over the first official test match between the Gironkey’s and Kenya. Up for grabs was a spot in the B section of the All Africa Cup where the winners could earn promotion and hopefully join Namibia as the automatic entrants from Africa at the 2015 World Cup in New Zealand. He personally would have opposed the IRB resolution that stated that the 2011 World Cup Winners should be allowed to defend their crown on home soil but the takeover of SA rugby had taken a few years longer than expected and he had taken over the Presidency later than expected.
Cedric Frolich flopped into the leather chair alongside Butana Komphele. He was dressed in a dark suit and sporting the new Gironkey tie, “It’s a big day Boss,” he said almost casually.
“Indeed, at last we have a rugby team that is representative and will not be despised by the majority of the population.”
Frolich surveyed the empty stands from his seat in the private suit, “It would be nice if the P.o.e.p.h.o.l.e. would come and watch the game” he said deliberately using the new politically correct acronym for previously offended ethnic population happy over legislation enacted.
“It’s a bad day to draw a crowd,” said Butana, “there is an important soccer game on today between Bafana Bafana and the Vatican, they are playing to see who will be ranked 372nd in the world.”
“Is the Pope playing?” asked Frolich who had never understood how Bafana Bafana continually battled to win games, there were no whites in the team and as he always pointed out unlike rugby soccer had secured the sponsorship of South Africa’s only remaining bank Malema’s.
Komphele ignored him, he was too busy studying his copy of the Zuma Times, “Tell me Cedric,” he asked “do you think there is any money in the game of Jukskei? I see there are still whites playing Jukskei. Maybe we need to get involved.”
“Maybe,” said Frolich counting the number of white players listed in the official match program to ensure that the allowed quota had not been exceeded. “Tell me boss. Is Luke white or not these days?”
Johannes Jacobus Hermanus van Tonder had lived across the road from Loftus all his life. He refused to call the stadium Ye Ye Park just as he refused to accept that Kirkness Street was now called Bob Mugabe Crescent. He was looking forward to the rugby and as he paced the lounge floor he was visibly agitated. “They will call Hannes,” said his wife without looking up from her knitting. She was busy making a tea cosy using green and gold wool, her husband’s favourite colours.
“Ja but what if the game is in Parys again or in Randfontein. It’s a blerry far drive and kick off is in less than an hour.”
Sanet van Tonder was about to re-assure him when the phone rang. Hannes grabbed it and without saying a word held it to his ear. The voice on the other side was a familiar one, “Bulls Cheetahs in Midrand. Kick off is at three o’clock’” said the recorded message.
Hannes grabbed the keys to his bakkie from the coffee table and blew Sanet a kiss, “Vrou, I am going to watch the Bulls play,” he said as he slipped out of the front door.
Sanet smiled, since real rugby had been banned and forced to go underground her husband had lived for his weekly dose of rebel rugby. It didn’t matter that the venues were kept secret until the last minute or that fixtures were arranged by a secret committee, what mattered more was that Hannes would not have to be at home a stones throw away from his beloved Loftus on the day that Luke Watson the Captain of the Currie Cup Champions the Eastern Cape Vomit lead the Gironkeys in their first official test. She had managed to obtain a copy of the 2011 SA Rugby Annual which she would give to Hannes for his birthday it was the last official source of Springbok Rugby and as a result it would soon become a collector’s item.
Desmond Thubela was the official Gironkey selector. It was a rather unique position and one that he was extremely honoured to hold. He strode into the dressing room just as Luke Watson was finishing off his motivational talk with the team. He did not hear all of the captains words but the talk of seeking Giants and of Zola YeYe and Cheeky Watson laying down their lives really moved Desmond. He looked across at coach Joel Santana who nodded at him with a smile. Desmond liked Joel and fully supported his mission to become the first coach to lead the same country to disaster in a soccer and a rugby world cup. “Gentleman,” said Desmond, “could I have your attention please, it is time to verify the selections.”
A hush fell over the Gironkeys dressing room.
Desmond took out the paper he had been printed earlier in the day and spoke in his most officious voice, “Ok. As of this morning black people account for 72.22 percent of the population and we will therefore field 11 black players today. Whites your allotment is 2 players. Luke as agreed you are white this week so Jones drops to the bench. Coloureds and Indians as per the statistics Booysen and Jakkalas will start the game with Naidoo coming on for one of you at half time. Finally as this is a test match there is no official government requirement for us to include any disabled persons or woman so go out and do your best and remember the motto winning is not everything if it was Jake White would still be the coach!”
Luke Watson had never felt more proud than he did at this particular moment. He was about to lead the Gironkey’s onto the field for the first official test match since the abolition of the Springbok. It did not matter who won, it had never been about winning. This was the culmination of decades of sacrifice and hardship. He was even looking forward to the initiation ceremony after the game. He personally had never been initiated during the time when he had been forced to play for the Springboks. He had heard that the old Springbok initiation ceremony had been nasty and barbaric but together with his dad he had planned a new one that they would introduce after the game. As everybody was playing their first test for the Gironkey’s they would all be initiated together. They would start with a game of ring a ring of rosies and then after vomiting on the old Springbok badge they would all recite the name of the Watson family dog before reciting the Gironkey Motto – Lukas Kleinas Kakas which translated from the Latin means ‘size does not matter’.
Luke was quietly confident about the game. He did not know much about the Kenyan side they had kept to themselves and trained in secret and had even shunned press conferences. Their team bus had blacked out windows and the players had all worn hooded tracksuits when they arrived at the ground. He guessed they were perhaps embarrassed to be the first opposition of the Gironkey’s whose replacement of the Springboks had not gone totally unnoticed in world rugby. Luke made a mental note to make them feel welcome- after all he was quietly confident of a victory.
In the Kenyan dressing room the team captain looked at each of his players as he spoke. They had not trained for this game, in fact their Visa’s and citizenship had come through at the very last minute but now it seemed that their plan was also coming together. The captain spoke in a slow deliberate voice “Boys today is the day. Today we will have revenge. Today we will not only win against the Gironkey’s we will annihilate them.” As they walked out of the dressing room Victor smiled at Bakkies, who nodded to Fourie who in turn winked at Schalk and Bismark. These Kenyans were ready and every one of them identified with the teams new sponsor whose name was embroidered on their jerseys – Dutch Man Lager – brewed in Holland.