Dawie De Villiers
|Born||Burgersdorp, July 10 1940
|Internationals||25 caps between 1962 and 1970
|Inducted||November 23, 2002
The following article has been adapted from the original by Dai Llewellyn, which focused on two players. It has been changed to highlight only the selected inductee’s information.
There have been many occasions when team members have chaired their captain off the field after a great performance, but rare it is when members of the vanquished team have hoisted the victors’ captain on to their shoulders and carried him off the pitch.
But that was precisely what happened to South Africa’s captain, Dawie de Villers, after his Springbok team had beaten the Barbarians in a thrilling game at Twickenham to wrap up the 1969-70 tour of the British Isles.
It was a moment that Dr De Villiers savours still, one of the warmer memories he harbours of Twickenham. “I recall I was carried off by a couple of Barbarian players,” says Dr De Villiers, who is based in Spain these days, working for the World Tourism Organisation, an off-shoot of the United Nations.
“It was in recognition of a marvellous match. They, and the crowd, said goodbye to us in great style.”
That was the fourth time that De Villiers had appeared at Headquarters. The troubled visit had opened at Twickenham with a game against Oxford University, which resulted in a shock defeat for the Springboks.
At the time, neither De Villiers, as captain, nor the tour party’s management claimed that the anti-apartheid protests had influenced them in any way.
But 33 years on De Villiers admitted: “That was our first encounter with the demonstrators and we were psychologically ill prepared for what happened.
“When they got on to the pitch they distracted our attention from the game. We were hypnotised by their activities.”
By the time the Springboks returned to face England, they were more hardened to the protestors’ antics, although De Villiers said: “We were shocked when the demonstrators ran onto the field with the police chasing them. I remember one got on to the crossbar at one end and another chained himself to an upright.”
He has another, equally sharp memory of the Test match: when the England hooker, John Pullin, dived onto the ball and was awarded a try. “I got my hand to the ball first and touched it down,” De Villiers recalled. “I have a clear memory of that.”
But overall he has fond memories of the place and of the games there and the camaraderie engendered in all those encounters. “That is why I feel greatly honoured to be inducted onto the Wall of Fame at Twickenham.”
Article by Dai Llewellyn