|9 Apr 2021|
|Archives & History|
The Bishop’s 3rd XV rugby team of 1951 achieved a unique record playing some dozen matches scoring 352 points with none against. This record was achieved due, in large measure to our coach and captain. Coach Herman van Niekerk (staff 1948-53) joined the staff of the college to assist the Viljoen brothers with the teaching of Afrikaans. Herman was young, enthusiastic and a fierce disciplinarian. Having grown up in the platteland his approach to the game of rugby was highly organised and structured. Nevertheless he was insistent that without exception, the ball had to be passed to the wings and never kicked. He drilled our forward pack and our scrummaging was an outstanding feature of our game. Our captain, Tippy Marais (1947-51) who played at number eight, was an outstanding leader and motivator. He was instrumental in introducing an attacking innovation when, on the shout of “tally-ho” the wing in possession would aim a high cross kick to the bunch of forwards following up in the middle of the field. This tactic invariably led to a try. Our emphasis was to play as a team and we were fortunate with the number of good ball handlers in the team, such as our two halves Mike Mathews (1947-52), scrumhalf and Donald Ayres (1942-51), flyhalf who shared the kicking duties with Tippy Marais. Our centres were both big and fast with Ken Saywood (1948-51), a good athlete, being particularly attacking. Bob Murray (1944-51) the other was excellent in defence. To complete the backline, our wings both Charles Lipp (1946-53) and Bob Murray (1944-51), were difficult to bring down. The full back position was covered by Dave Fernley (1948-53) or Mike Hudson (1947-51). Our pack enjoyed a powerful front rank with Niels Hauffe (1944-51) on the loosehead who was extremely strong and gave great support to Jim Feely (1942-51), the hooker. Colin Gale (1951) made up the other front rank. The locks, Tom Morse (1941-51) and John Torr (1944-51) provided an adequate supply of possession in the lineouts. The team generally scored upwards of 20 points a match, with the lowest scored against RBHS which we won 14 to nil in a closely contested game. We were hard pressed to retain our record and on one occasion they came very close to scoring and in fact crossed our line, but the ref ruled that the ball was lost forward and awarded a five yard scrum. It would be apocryphal to record that the ref could have been Herman van Niekerk as the game was played at home. Mike Mathews records another instance against either Paarl Boys High or Paarl Gym when our opponents got very close to scoring up in the right hand corner and after the match asked Herman what he would have done if they’d scored – Herman said “Ag, nee, it would have been a forward pass.” Tippy Marais is of the opinion that several members of the 3rd team could have achieved higher honours by being selected for the 2nd XV or even the 1st XV, but due to our results the “powers that be” left Herman’s team unchanged. Tippy, having been selected to play for the 2nd team chose to stay with the Thirds.
While time has dimmed the memories of matches played over sixty years ago, certain instances are recalled. Such as the presence of Basil Sgoutas (1949-51) who filled in from time to time. He was small and extremely good looking with ample pitch black hair. He knew absolutely nothing about rugby but was a spirited and gutsy player who really got stuck in whether playing as hooker or elsewhere in the forwards. He was only intent on gaining possession of the ball. It would seem that Basil later attained great heights internationally in his profession of architecture. Tom Morse reports that over the years and living in Stellenbosch, it has been his good fortune to have come into contact with Herman where he had continued to coach rugby at the Maties. His particular achievement in this regard was the creation of their “Jong Span” and managing an overseas tour to the UK by the Maties first team. Some three months ago Tom visited Herman at his home and found him to be quite alert if somewhat frail and they had a good chat about his days at Bishops. It was his intention to visit him again to convey to him the good wishes of John Torr, Tippy Marais and Mike Mathews who have been contacted regarding this report. However it was sad to learn that Herman is now in frail care after a fall and his memory is failing. In the words of Mike Mathews ‘he was a great teacher, who we feared a bit, but respected enormously’. In conclusion, it would be appropriate to record that Tippy and his wife, Marlene, were victims of a vicious attack in their home and only escaped more grievous bodily harm due to the timeous arrival of their son. We wish them both well.
Contributions by: Donald Ayres, Tippy Marais, Mike Mathews, John Torr, Charles Lipp and Tom Morse.
Our heartiest congratulations to the School Archivist, Dr Paul Murray, who has been awarded the Colenso Visitorship to St John's College, Cambridge for the 2022-3. More...