Ex-Bok Deon Kayser remembers Arthob Petersen: 'He was someone we related to'

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Arthob Petersen as Springbok team manager in 2009.
Arthob Petersen as Springbok team manager in 2009.
Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images
  • Former centre/wing Deon Kayser paid tribute to late ex-Bok team manager Arthob Petersen.
  • Kayser said Petersen was someone players of colour could relate to inside the Bok environment.
  • Petersen died of Covid-19 related effects on Tuesday.

Former Springbok utility back Deon Kayser paid tribute to late former Bok team manager Arthob Petersen, calling Petersen someone who motivated him during his playing days.

Petersen, who died of Covid-19 effects on Tuesday, managed the Boks three times in his illustrious administrative career, when Nick Mallett (1997 to 1999), Jake White (2004 to 2006) and (2008 to 2009) Peter de Villiers were head coaches.

READ | Former Bok team manager Arthob Petersen dies

Kayser, who was in the 1999 World Cup in Britain with Petersen remembered him as a relatable figure that players of colour could turn to.

"He was somebody that us players of colour could relate to," said Kayser.

"During our free time, we as players always used to go to him to just talk about [our] issues and use him as a springboard.

"He was a guy that really had all our interests at heart. He was an out-and-out rugby man.

"He did so much … the fact that he had three terms as Springbok team manager spanning Peter de Villiers, Jake White and Nick Mallett just shows you the character and qualities he had as a leader.

"We are saddened to hear about the loss of his life."

Racial assimilation and integration was a thorny point in the Bok team in the late 1990’s, during Kayser’s time.

This was over and above some "issues" players faced within a team environment during a high-pressure tournament like the World Cup, where the Boks went in as defending champions.

But the former Eastern Province and Sharks centre said having Petersen there helped players have someone to vent to in times of distress.

"There were small issues that other players couldn’t relate to that we’d go to him about," said Kayser.

"Myself, Breyton [Paulse] and other players of colour could just go and vent basically to him and he would just motivate us and ask us to knuckle down.

"He would sort out the off-field issues for us just to make the environment better for us too, and to help us focus on what we needed to focus on."

Kayser remembers the 1999 tournament fondly.

He still believes South Africa had a good chance to go all the way in the UK in 1999, were they not foiled by the Wallabies, the eventual champions, in the semi-finals.

"There were high expectations for that Bok team because we were winners at the previous World Cup," he said.

"I thought we had a decent enough squad to be able to compete. We did so well and could have gone further were it not for the [Stephen] Larkham drop goal in the semi-finals.

"We managed to beat the All Blacks in the 3rd/4th place playoffs.

"There were some off-field issues that might have been stumbling blocks for us as we were trying to get over the hill."

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