Tributes are pouring in for the late Dougie Dyers, a pioneer of South African rugby, from ex-colleagues and players in his lifetime.
City Vision spoke to some of them and here is what they had to say about Dyers.
Louis Mzomba, the first African referee, who was coached by Dyers: Oom Dougie touched so many lives (across the colour terrain) as a rugby coach, administrator and mentor. It was easy to detect his deep passion for the game. He was quick to share his vast knowledge of the game whether it is the coaching or administration sphere. Rugby has lost a giant.
Bryn Morse, a player whose friendship spanned five decades:
“Coaches by the very nature of their role often grab the limelight. Dougie was never like that - extremely humble he did not mind who got the credit and always put the team first.
“In many respects, Dougie was ahead of his time as a coach. Today it is accepted that team culture and individual wellness, both mental and physical, are important aspects of a successful team makeup yet 30 years ago this was scoffed at. Despite this, Dougie saw the value of culture, particularly in a team as diversified into race and background as the one I played in and capitalised on his unique ability to mould the team together, to bring out the best in one. He genuinely cared about you, took an interest in you, and this created the environment where the team was prepared to “put their lives on the line” as it were, for each other and their beloved and much-respected coach Dougie.
“I saw in Dougie a family man – one who loved his children and in many respects, he infused that family culture into our team. We were united, had a sense of belonging, and had each other’s back. This translated into success on the rugby field and it is not surprising that we convincingly won the coveted Sport Pienaar trophy in 1990.
“I would like to share with you the last time I met Dougie, just before his health started deteriorating as I believe in many respects that meeting sums up who Dougie was. My father followed my rugby career with great interest, and I invited him to lunch as we parted company, he gave his Barbarians rugby tie from 1979 to me, an act of kindness, beyond description.
“A man of unquestionable integrity; a man who achieved so much - often against the odds - yet remained humble and modest; a man who genuinely cared for and brought out the best in those around him.
“I am still wondering today, that despite Dougie’s success as a player, coach, and selector “to what further heights would Dougie have risen both on and off the field, was he not restricted when in his prime, by a society where people were treated unequally based on the colour of their skin?” Yet he never bore a grudge, never saw himself as a victim, and always saw the cup of life as half full as opposed to half empty.
May you rest in peace Dougie, and thank you for the impact you had on my life - what I learned from you will remain with me forever.”
Craig Wilson was also a player: “Dougie Dyers was an absolute gentleman. An outstanding coach who was respected by colleagues and players alike. He valued his players and made them feel that they were the best in their position. He did not restrict himself, he preferred to encourage freedom and creativity. He was a softly-spoken man. He never raised his voice nor did he get over-excited. When he spoke everyone listened. He spoke sense. He was always positive and his team was the best. Dougie was a kind man. His door was always open. Always had time for a visit and a chat. He was one of a kind, a great thinker and a great strategist. A big loss to all. I shall miss him”.
Herman Abrahams, his colleague at WPRU: “You know in life you pass millions of people who have very little or no influence on your life at all, they simply pass you by. However, sometimes a person who crosses your path has an immediate and profound effect on your entire life.
He had an immediate and profound effect on those who crossed his path. He served rugby at the highest level, both as a player and an administrator and left an indelible mark in both. He will be sadly missed”.