Silver lining to Spies verdict

2007-09-03 12:36

Gary Boshoff

I was recently very relieved to hear that all is not lost for Springbok loose forward Pierre Spies after he was recently diagnosed with a genetic pulmonary disease.

Further tests and opinions gained from other specialists have cast some doubt over the initial diagnoses, giving Spies - and rugby lovers all over - new hope that he might yet be able to continue with his career as a professional rugby player.

It is always sad to see the career of a sportsman/woman cut short by injury or any other unfortunate mishap.

In the case of Pierre Spies it happened at probably the most unfortunate time for him and for the Springboks - just before the greatest rugby show on earth is about to start.

I really feel for him.

I first became aware of Spies's special talents when I watched him play for Affies (Afrikaans Hoer Seunskool) against traditional rivals, Waterkloof.

He played No 8 at the time and impressed with his speed across the park and above-average power and skill levels when carrying the ball, both in contact situations and in open play.

Great future

He was a star at Affies and a great future was predicted for him.

I recall how I compared him with the great British Lions and England No 8 Andy Ripley and the Argentine No 8 who toured South Africa with the Jaguars in the late seventies, Gabriel Travaglini.

He was a star in the making - the latest among the great loose forwards produced by South Africa.

Like his father he is a humble person but passionate about rugby.

I had the privilege of meeting the late Pierre Spies snr a few times and was overwhelmed by his positive outlook on life.

In fact, when I later found that he was a successful motivational speaker I immediately invited him to address a team building session of the BBRU administrative staff.

His positive perspective on life and bubbling enthusiasm was addictive.

It was indeed a very sad day when we were informed of his sudden death.

So while I watched Spies develop as a player over the last few years, the images of him running with the ball, powering his way around, over and through defenders, conjured up images of his late father, himself a great athlete and rugby star in his heyday.

Disrupted

How proud he would have been to see his son rise to greatness.

Spies's progress was briefly disrupted when first Eugene Eloff (then coach of the SA Under-19 team) and later Heyneke Meyer believed that Pierre, like his late father, would be better at wing.

This proved later to have been a big mistake, a mistake which Meyer, to his credit, corrected.

In a very short period Spies has risen to become one of our most prized rugby possessions.

His loss to the Springboks could just turn out to be the most crucial factor that determines their success - or failure - at the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

However, while the Springboks search for glory in France, here at home Spies will hold on to the hope that perhaps, just maybe, he will be able to once again don the green and gold next year and live out his dream!

I certainly hope he gets another chance.

  • Gary Boshoff is a former Saru player and well-known rugby administrator.

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