Breyton Paulse honoured at inaugural Nkomazi Kruger Hall of Fame Awards
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Cape Town – Former Springbok wing Breyton Paulse became the first inductee at the inaugural Nkomazi Kruger Hall of Fame Awards at the Nkomazi Kruger Lodge & Spa in Malelane, Mpumalanga, on Thursday evening.
The Nkomazi Kruger Hall of Fame Awards was the brainchild of Jaco van den Berg, who heads up the Nkomazi Group. The renowned boxing promoter Thinus Strydom was named president of the awards that will be conducted annually at the scenic Leopard Creek Country Club.
Paulse was taken by surprise with the award and thought he was in for a vacation at the resort when businessman Van den Berg invited him.
"It was a major surprise but equally overwhelming," said Paulse, a former South African Rugby Player of the Year. "The awards will not only go to sports people but to anyone who has achieved in life, especially persons who are excelled against all odds.
"It is astonishing to think that this organisation in the Kruger National Park, could honour someone at the other end of the country. For me, it was a case of coming from the 'Koue Bokkeveld to Laeveld' to receive an amazing honour.
"It's always wonderful when society can acknowledge the feats of achievers in whatever field of life. I wish this organization well and hope they go from strength to strength."
Strydom said the awards committee will spread its focus far and wide and will consider awards for people who excel in business, arts and culture, apart from sport.
Inductees will receive a certificate and a (head of a) leopard trophy.
Paulse played 64 Test matches, scoring 26 tries for South Africa's national rugby team the Springboks.
During his international career, despite his relatively small frame, he become a force to be reckoned with on the world stage. His duels with the incomparable Jonah Lomu in Test rugby and Super Rugby are legendary – he could always be relied on to keep the big man in check!
His greatest asset was that he was a terrific finisher with pace to burn.
After making his Springbok debut in 1999, 'Breytie', as he was affectionately known, became a household name in South Africa.
Who will ever forget his trademark try-scoring celebration, which first came to light in his debut Test against Italy? He scored a hat-trick that day, but after scoring his third try he took off with a flick flack, a cartwheel and a backflip.
Breyton grew up in the Koue Bokkeveld in the Ceres region. While he attended the Skurweberg Secondary School, his many sports talents came to the fore when he participated in cricket, soccer, rugby and athletics, representing Boland in the 200m and 400m sprints.
After matriculating, he enrolled at the rugby-mad Stellenbosch University and started playing for one of the oldest and most revered rugby clubs in the world.