Twenty years ago today, Pieter Hendriks did not score South Africa’s first try of the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
He got the five points, but he never grounded the ball, pulling off a dummy that was bought by the Australians, the Welsh referee Derek Bevan and the entire rugby planet as he tried to dot down closer to the posts.
Hendriks told the story to David O’Sullivan for our book on South African sporting trivia. The 1995 Rugby World Cup was a whirl of stories, a time of tales and hope, pride and celebration. It was a “where were you when?” time. Where were you when Joel Stransky took an inside pass from Joost van der Westhuizen, who had worked an eight-nine move with Rudolf Straeuli to score the decisive try against Australia at Newlands 20 years ago today? I was at the Pirates Sports Club in Greenside, getting royally trollied. The World Cup was also a time of drinking, lots of drinking.
That wasn’t the way Anfield wanted to say goodbye to Steven Gerrard.
They wanted a 40-yard screamer by the captain in the 91st minute to win his final match. They wanted one last reminder of the player who spent 17 years at the club and was at the heart of some of their greatest triumphs of a club in the post-80s era. But, perhaps, a 3-1 loss was the right result, an echo of Gerrard’s career, a player who could have won so much more, but was left wanting more at the end.
Finally, three years later, the English are beginning to get the true meaning of the classic South African slang: “Doos.” While, thanks to the influx of South Africans to the north, the use of the word has perhaps become more commonplace, the true meaning of it only hit home this week, thanks, it must be noted, to a man born in South Africa.
Andrew Strauss, born in Joburg, shut the lid on the Pandora’s box (to use the literal translation of “doos”) that is Kevin Pietersen, born in Maritzburg. There are, said Strauss, now director of cricket at the England Cricket Board, “massive trust issues” between the ECB and Pietersen. Confusingly, they trusted Pietersen enough to offer him a consultancy role. Perhaps Strauss meant “consultant” in the South African parastatal-government context, where you pay someone a lot of money to pretend they are employed by you without them actually getting involved.
Strauss was caught using the c-word in reference to Pietersen during a break in play during a Test last year. It wasn’t picked up in England, but, thankfully, it was heard by sharp-eared viewers in Australia. Some would suggest that if the South African in Strauss had come out, he would have called Pietersen a “doos”, which is another, much ruder, meaning of the word.
When people greet Jean de Villiers these days, inquiries as to his health are genuine and, he joked this week, more important than the actual greeting. “People will say, ‘How’s your knee?’ and then say hello,” said De Villiers at a SuperSport lunch at the Johannesburg Country Club.
The knee is coming along nicely, says De Villiers. It feels like we read weekly updates on his knee in the media.
SuperSport have shot a documentary on his recovery. It may just be the most important body part in South Africa about now.
In the end, it wasn’t the greatest fight of the century. It might not even be the greatest fight of 2015, ending with no small manner of controversy, some posturing, a little humility and, from some of those who had spent thousands of dollars to be ringside, booing.
Floyd Mayweather beat Manny Pacquiao on a unanimous decision. The two men made money, lots of money, which is the aim of prize fighting. No-one fights for the fun of it.
None of the booing at the MGM Grand came from Fikile Mbalula, the minister of sports and recreation, who bragged on Twitter that he was at the fight and the rest of us weren’t. So there. Ha. Bitches. Mbalula is quite taken with Mayweather, and brought his hero to South Africa last year to “reawaken the giant” that was boxing in this country. That uncomfortable rustling you hear is the giant turning over in its bed waiting for the Mayweather effect to kick in. The Money came to town and then left.