Zim Boks are nothing new

2008-06-13 14:00

Johannesburg - The selection for the Springboks of three Zimbabweans who qualify to play for South Africa has created a bit of a stir - but in Springbok rugby this is nothing new.

In fact, in the days when Zambia was still Northern Rhodesia and Zimbabwe was known as Rhodesia, five Rhodesians or former Rhodesians captained the Springboks and a number have also played Test rugby for South Africa.

And later, in the period early 2000s Corne Krige, a former Zambian, led the Springboks in 18 Tests. In the present two-Test series against Wales, Thonderai Chavhanga, Tendai Mtawarira and Brian Mujati, are former Zimbabweans who have qualified to play for South Africa by virtue of residence in the country.

Des van Jaarsveld was the only player to play for Rhodesia when he became Springbok captain. He led the Springboks in the one-off Test during Scotland's 1960 tour of South Africa. He scored a try in that match.

Salty du Rand became for first former Rhodesian to lead South Africa when he captained the Springboks in the first (losing) Test against the All Blacks on the 1956 tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Others to follow in his footsteps were Piet Greyling, who later played for the Free State, Northern Transvaal and Transvaal. He was captain of Transvaal when he captained the Boks in the losing Test against England at Ellis Park in 1972; Bobby Skinstad, Western province/Stormers and Sharks; and Gary Teichmann (Natal) are also former Zimbabweans. One of the most skilful players to represent South Africa was Ian Robertson, who played in the 1974 series against France and the 1976 series against the All Blacks.

He was an accomplished flyhalf, centre and fullback and excelled in all three positions in the days when specialisation was regarded as paramount.

David Smith was a centre with ample speed and a scintillating break and played in the 1980 series against the British Lions, and hooker Ronnie Hill played for South Africa from 1960-1963.

Andy MacDonald was what today would have been called a Zambian when he represented the then Rhodesia, and played prop for South Africa on the 1965 tour of Australia and New Zealand. He was immensely strong, and in fact killed a Lion with his bare hands!

Probably the best-known of the Rhodesians/Zimbabweans was Ray Mordt, later a great wing for Northern Transvaal and Transvaal and also Currie Cup winning coach of Transvaal in 1994. He became a Springbok as a Zimbabwean player and played in 18 Tests.

But the ties with South Africa's northern neighbour extends even further. Former Springbok coach and now a national selector, Ian McIntosh, also hails from the old Rhodesia.