1961 – Basil Bey’s essence of varsity rugby

On Saturday evening in Smuts Hall (Men's Res, as some still called it), during winter, there would all of a sudden break out a racket, a hideous, smashing cacophony of insistent drumming in the dining hall. The cause? It was suppertime and the First XV had won its game at Newlands; those members of the team living in Smuts were being celebrated. The newmen, as was the custom, had lifted to shoulder height the First XV members as they sat in their chairs at dinner, while the rest of the residents, wearing their undergraduate gowns, repeatedly smashed their flattened dessert spoons on the pocked tables. The noise was deafening and the effect, at first stunning and frightening, was, once one became accustomed to it, emotionally uplifting. Smuts Hall was proud; the University was proud. As I say, all the dessert spoons were flat after many years of such treatment, much to the rage of the matron in the kitchen but the kitchen staff and the serving staff, especially the maitre d', Jock, splendid in his white uniform and distinguishing diagonal red sash, accepted it as part of the tradition of the residence and loved it as we did. Some of the lesser mortals would flick water from their flattened spoons at the self-conscious players precariously balanced in their chairs on the broad shoulders of the newmen.

 

 

 

This was part of the ethos of the University of Cape Town; rugby was part of its life's blood; there were some professors and lecturers who did not enjoy the sway rugby held but there were those who under- stood what the game meant and had meant, from the early days, to this great establishment and we, players and students, knew who they were – it was good. We respected them and were grateful.

Then, too, we were blessed in the Rugby Club with coaches of the calibre of Dr Louis Babrow, Dr Tom Hugo-Hamman, Dr Porky Wells and, after my time, Dr Cecil Moss. Louis had taken over First XV coaching reins from the great Boy Louw. These were special men, as were their pre- decessors. Most of them had played rugby for UCT and so coached us in its ways. The Club in those days was run by the students but guided by wonderful men such as these.

FITNESS, TEAM SPIRIT AND LOYALTY
MY generation arrived at the Uni- versity just after the ex-servicemen era, a very successful one for UCT. Heaven knows, we have had our ups and downs; in 1954 Dr Louis Babrow announced at the AGM that the golden era had passed. He said: "The last of the ex-servicemen have now left and we will have to struggle. What we want are three things: fitness, team spirit and loyal- ty to carry us on.” And sure enough, at the end of that season we were second last on the Grand Challenge log – but in the following year clam- bered to fifth position. In 1956, with the late Basil Holmes as captain, we lost to Stellenbosch by 14 points to eight and as a result ended second on the log. The 1957 season was one of the worst in our history. All our stars had left us but, as always, the sky was not completely empty of sparkle. 1958 was another poor sea- son by our standards but at the end of that year we undertook a tour of East Africa, including in our side five Stellenbosch players, who became our greatest friends. The tour was a wonderful success; the manager/ coach was Tom Hugo-Hamman.

It was Tom, who turned things around for UCT Rugby in 1959 (which started poorly). He came into the dressing room before a match at Newlands and in his normal guff and rather abrupt way said to us that he did not know why we bothered to play rugby; he felt that we did not enjoy it at all. Certainly, from the way we played, we appeared to be rather miserable. Our rugby was lacklustre and lacked pretty much everything else. He exhorted us to go on to the field on that particular day, to throw the ball around, to have fun and to stop wor- rying about the results. Well, things fizzed, the corpse twitched, came alive, was vibrant and Varsity was robust again.

At the end of that season, we were down three points to 12 with eight minutes to go, playing Stellenbosch at Newlands. Swys Coetzee, that wonderful Matie, who had accom- panied us to East Africa, was taking another penalty kick at our posts. We were behind our own line waiting for the inevitable (Swys missed little on that day – he had been successful with two penalties and a drop). One of the players turned to the others to say: "We can win this game!". We believed him and we did win! We ran from this one missed kick, the length of the field, cutting Stellenbosch to pieces, and scored. We ran some more and scored again. Zed Tomes dotted down the final try (or was it Gert Liebenberg – he scored one of the tries?); the kick was far out and Zed had to convert it for us to win. It was one of those moments that happen rarely in a game – we knew he would put it over. We had such belief! He did of course and we won the game 13 to 12. That was only the beginning: in the next two years the University of Cape Town played exhilarating rugby, ending up on top of the log in both years. 

 

 

 

GLORIOUS TIMES

TALK about the Varsity spirit! In- vited by Pretoria University to play them at Loftus (they were having a wonderful season; we were flown up and accommodated by them, no ex- pense spared). They wanted to play us. They wanted to beat us, because now we had a reputation again. The game was a thrilling one; it moved from one side of the field to another throughout. We were down with minutes to go inside our own 25; given a penalty after an injury, we took a tap kick and ran. John Benn, flyhalf, fed Maxie Marr on the left wing. He scuttled away beating player after player, passing back to Benn and receiving the ball again from him to score after a run of 80 to 90 metres. Charles Fortune was the commentator; he could not con- tain himself. "Best game this sum- mer!", he gasped as he came into our dressing room. It was glorious but it happened because we believed and we played, with trust, the way we knew best. We took what most other teams would have called chances but to us they were not chances, they were opportunities and we were skil- ful enough to use them.

We still talk of that game at Stel- lenbosch in the old Matie Stadium (most of us are still alive) in the 1961 Intervarsity. Just before half time we were even, one penalty each; then, as Maties wheeled their scrum in front of their posts, UCT scrumhalf Dave Barrow sniped in on their ball, whip- ping it out to Gillies who transferred to Olivier thence to Holmes who drew and passed to Olivier who had gone round on Holmes’s outside to accept the pass and score a brilliant try. We missed the kick and led six to three at halftime. The second half was played at a frenetic pace; the defences were fearsome. John Benn dropped for goal: the ball wobbled, bounced on the crossbar and slunk over. Nine to three, but we were under pressure. I have never known determination like that shown by Varsity on that day. They would not relent despite attack after attack. Eventually one of our East African Maties, Johan Fechter, a fine wing, raced over for a Matie try in the corner and the kick was missed. We won nine to six. I can go on forever. One more story. On the way to winning the Grand Challenge in 1960, we were top of the log and played Somerset West, bottom of the log, at Somerset West. We played badly, they played well. We were three points down with time up when we were given a penalty almost in front of their posts. The easy penalty would give us a draw and one point but we chose to tap and run. We were tack- led inches short of the line. The whistle went, we lost. We shared the Grand Challenge Cup in that year instead of winning it outright, probably because of that decision. I say probably but how many other games had we won through that same approach? Many. You live by the sword you die by the sword and have no complaints. Tom Hugo-Hamman’s words resonated in our souls. We played for the thrill of it, for the excitement of it, for the adven- ture and so we succeeded. That is the Varsity spirit, the Varsity ethos.

 

 

 

VARSITY ETHOS

THE country teams in those days were strong, physical and aggressive. We were always beaten for size and physi- cal strength. It did not pay us to mix it so we played with skill and brain; we moved the ball wide, loose forwards were brilliant rangers and our tight forwards could handle and run like backs. We were punched, thumped, bullied and verbally abused but we never surrendered. There was a fierce pride and an absolute belief in our style of rugby and in our fellows. It was not only the First XV that played this way; this Varsity ethos ran through the club – the Varsity Spirit. Since the birth of the UCT Rugby Club, we have seen the same thing again and again.

I have seen it, this ethos, embodied in those who played for UCT in the recent universities’ tournament; it has warmed the heart of all of us who have had anything to do with the UCT Rugby Club.

"Ethos" means characteristic spirit; it stems from the Greek word "ēthos" meaning "(settled) character". "Settled" fits well and so does “char- acter”; very few Varsity teams did not play with that élan that marked our rugby, separating it from any other played in this country. Élan, ethos, character, all come together in the words "Varsity Spirit". We as players never talked about the Varsity spirit; in fact I do not think that we even thought about it. When I say we, I mean those fellows who played from the mid-50s to the mid-60s (no, dam- mit, I am not talking about the 1850s and 60s). I am not altogether sure that I know exactly what the Varsity spirit really is, despite my dictionary definitions. In a way, it is indefinable, abstract. I do know that those players with whom I shared my rugby playing life at UCT have remained my closest friends, even though I haven't seen some of them for years. Is that friend- ship the spirit, or is that a result of it? When we talk about the Varsity spirit, surely we mean the spirit in which and with which we traditionally play our rugby. It is that spirit, that rugby ethos, which engenders the deep, everlasting friendships.

Of course, the age at which one attends university is a wonderful one. For most of us (the ex-service- men were a different matter), it is the first time in our lives that we feel truly free. Life is full of promise, it is exciting and youth is never-ending. The moment is important and the future is distant and unimportant for it does not impinge too much on the infinite now. For most of us it is a wonderful, carefree space in our lives; only years afterwards do we really realise how precious, how valuable, how essential (dealing with the essence) that space was. At that stage of our lives we are idealists – and so our rugby reflects that and it is wonderfully UCT.

Basil Bey played for UCT RFC from 1956 to 1963 and was Club and Team Captain from 1959 to 62. In 1960, he played for Combined Southern Uni- versities against the All Blacks (14-3) and captained the combined team on a tour of Rhodesia. From 1964 to 1960, Bey played for False Bay. After retiring aged 33, he coached False Bay (includ- ing the winning Grand Challenge team in 1972). He coached UCT for three years in the early 1980s. His extensive coaching career further included Plum- stead High School, Bishops (coached First XV for 27 years), Western Prov- ince U19 and never lost a game as WP Craven Week coach. During apartheid, he worked with Dougie Dyers in coach- ing a talented mixed-race Craven Week team. He was WP selector (Currie Cup) and lecturer for Western Province coaching courses Basil Bey retired from teaching in 1998 and “now pretends to help the U14s at Bishops”.

 

 

 

1949 – Heroes of the early varsity decades

"I confined myself to the years post-1937, and have therefore omitted famous Springboks such as Bennie Osler, Morris Zimerman and Willie Rosseau, to mention only a few”, explained Doc Moss in September 1998. “This is because I have only read about them and did not actu- ally see them play. My team consists of men with whom I played or coached. What a daunting task to be restricted to choosing only 15 when there have been so many brilliant Springboks, provincial and club players…but that’s the rule of this game. So, here it goes. You may, of course, not agree with me – but that is what makes it such an interesting exercise. We can all have great fun while agreeing to disagree!”

Fullback: Ian McCallum (Spring- bok). He was at one stage the best goal kicker in the world, and I believe a reliable “points” machine is a must in any team. He was also able to join the back-line and his positional play was excellent.

Left wing: Ho de Villiers (Spring- bok). Although he could challenge strongly for the fullback position, HO was 20 years ahead of his time in his ability to counter attack and to link up with his back-line. He was brilliant in the air and one of the most gifted, conscientious and deep- thinking players I have ever known.

Centre: Peter Whipp (Springbok). He picks himself as he was the fin- est distributor of a rugby ball: the timing of his pass was immaculate and his flair has not been matched since in South African rugby. It was a privilege to have coached Peter.

Centre: Louis Babrow (Springbok). I pick him by virtue of a tape I have of the 1937 Springboks in New Zealand. He scored two brilliant tries to win the series for South Africa. Possessed of tremendous speed off the mark and magnificent acceleration, he was able to beat his opponent on the outside and break the line. He went on to play for Guy's Hospital, British Hospitals and he captained the British Barbar- ians – not a bad pedigree.

Right Wing: Chris Pope (Spring- bok). Powerful, fast and determined. A great “finisher” and “corner flag- ger” and a prolific try scorer. Flyhalf: Dennis Fry (Springbok). I choose my own teammate. He was possessed of an outstanding rugby brain, a meticulous pinpoint boot with either foot, and was a wonder- ful distributor. He was a real “thinking” pivot.

Scrumhalf: Roy McCallum (Springbok). He had boundless energy, tackled anything that moved and his bursts around the scrum and speed were a hallmark of his play. He had a “never beaten” attitude and was always a factor, even behind a beaten pack of forwards. Loosehead: roger bryant (WP).

A sure Bok selection had he not been injured at a critical stage of his career. His scrummaging ability was unques- tioned and his strength and technique were of the finest. I once saw him pick up a current Springbok prop, carry him on his shoulders as you would a arcass, run 20 yards with him – and throw him out into touch.

Hooker: Piet Duvenage (SA Sixth Army). He was my captain at UCT and in the army. He would also be my “Fabulous XV” Captain. A man who commanded tremendous re- spect and was a born leader. He had a quick foot and a rare turn of speed. Perhaps it is because he was a cap- tain in the army and I was a corporal – or that he was a doctor while I was a medical student – but to me he was someone for whom you would strain every ounce of energy. His tragic death on the rugby field was a great loss to UCT rugby.

Tighthead: Keith Andrews (Springbok). A good scrummager and ball player, with a turn of speed (he started off as a flank). He typifies the modern, mobile tight forward. He is a tremendous team man and was voted the most popular tourist during the 1994 Springbok tour of New Zealand.
Lock: Derek van den Verg (Spring- bok). Aggressive lineout jumper willing to compete against all comers. Also possesses a fine turn of speed. Somebody you would not want to “mix it” with, and someone I would like to play with – but not against.

Lock: Butch Deuchar (WP). Might also have earned Springbok honours but for injury. An honest forward, good scrummager and a consistent performer. An outstanding lineout jumper and a great competitor. I once saw him completely outclass the Springbok lock at the time and win virtually every lineout ball. Having been kicked and battered around the eyebrows and face, he returned to continue his lineout domination. A courageous player.

Flank: Stephen Fry (Springbok). Like his brother, also a team mate of mine. A leader by example, he captained
the Springboks. He was extremely fit, mobile and possessed both attacking and defensive qualities. A player who was always where the ball was.

Flank: Andrew Aitken (Springbok). A great tactical rugby brain, and a “hunter” of opposing backs. A defen- sive as well as an attacking, linking flank equally at home in the No 8 berth. Also an astute leader capable of captaining Springbok teams.

Eighthman: Here I simply cannot drop one of my two contenders. Dugald Macdonald (Springbok). He “saw” the whole field from the back of the scrum. A player who, in modern rugby, would be equally brilliant. He taught us “how to play off the ball and run into open spaces”. A great character and con- stant performer. Or Nick Mallett (Springbok). A fierce competitor. Mobile, with linking qualities, he was also very good at the back of the lineout. A tremendous team man and a great rugby brain. He was physically strong, never intimidated, and competed with the best.

This then is my team. It possesses an outstanding kicker and captain, tremendous speed in the backs, tactical halfbacks, good scrummag- ers, lineout specialists and brilliant loose forwards.

The players already selected by Dr Moss most cer- tainly all rate as legends of UCT Rugby. Their special talents need not be duplicated here. Great players of the most recent years such as Mike Lawless, rob- bie Fleck and brent russell as well as dion o’Cuinneagain, captain of Ireland, and daniel Vickerman the Wallaby lock forward, have also not been considered here.

Time and space preclude acknow- ledging all the UCT legends, but the following volumes provide exten- sive information on their exploits during the early years: The Legends of Springbok Rugby (Craven and Clay- ton, 1989), The Captains (Griffiths, 2001), The Varsity Spirit (Babrow and Stent, 1963).

Please bear in mind that in 1918, the then-South African College be- came the University of Cape Town.

1890-1900

“Bob” Duff (Springbok). This re- nowned and superlative fullback played in all three tests in the series against WE MacLagan’s 1891 British side. One record suggests he captained South Africa in the third test. Among others, exceptional stalwarts M Louw and “oubaas” Versveld also played in some of these tests.

A great friend of Bill Schreiner. Named the "sporting Parson" after his clergy- man father, he inevitably became known as "sport Pienaar". an autocrat, yet a fair man, he possessed a warm sense of humour. His style was soon adopted throughout the sa rugby Board. He was President for 20 years and in 1947 and 1948 had the distinction of being Presi- dent of both sa rugby and sa Cricket.

1910-1920

William Alexander “billy” Mil- lar (Springbok, Captain). A product of the SA College, this extremely strong and robust forward was a magnificent leader of men. By example and wisdom he contributed immensely to nation building in volatile times. Badly injured in the Anglo-Boer war, his determination and self-will saw him recover and lead South Africa unbeaten in five home and abroad test matches.

Five past or present SA College men toured the UK in 1912. All played for South Africa with distinc- tion. Of these, Frederick Pieter Luyt was rated the finest halfback playing in the Cape at that time. richard robins Luyt, the father of Sir Richard Luyt, was a brilliant centre. The third was Jd Luyt and, later, WA “Wally” Mills and rCb “Clive” van ryneveld were towers of strength. The van Ryneveld/FP Luyt combination was particularly highly acclaimed.

1920-1930
BL “bennie” Osler (springbok, Cap- tain) remains an all-time legend of south african rugby. this flyhalf had very definite ideas of how the game of rugby should be played and how drop kicks should be kicked. Drop goal specialist extraordinaire, he discovered how to hold and drop the ball on its point so as to ensure accuracy and distance. Competent adversaries were delegated pre-game to smother his kicks. invariably their reward was a friendly pat on the back as they turned to view the ball sailing unerringly through the goal posts. Bennie re- peated these feats over and over again.

The supreme general; he dictated the course and result of matches using his intellect and boot to target the open ar- eas and sidelines in opposition territory.

BL Osler drop goals memorably swung the test matches against the British isles (1924) and all Blacks (1928). Bennie played in 17 tests and never lost a series. He victoriously cap- tained the springboks on four out of five occasions at home and abroad. His points tally in test matches survived until the advent of Naas Botha.

Stanley Osler (springbok). Ben- nie’s brother was a truly gifted and versatile centre, who cut defences at will. stanley is best remembered as the ultimate gentleman who played the game with great commitment, but mainly for fun. a highly principled man, he epitomised how to live a worthy life. 

 

“Jack” van Druten (springbok). tireless, the loose-forward covered the entire field with extreme speed and in- tensity. the all Backs of 1928 accorded him the greatest respect.

Willie Rousseau (springbok). a darting centre and devastating tackler,  he combined superbly with louis babrow and George daneel (spring- boks). the loose-forward also played for stellenbosch. His try against the 1928 all Blacks is rated the best ever seen at Port elizabeth.

1930-1940

Morris Zimerman (Springbok). Zimie was the ultimate destroyer. Huge, powerful legs and titanium knees, he was virtually unstoppable with the try line in sight. Extracts from The Legends of SA Rugby (1989) relate how the wing left many aspi- rant defenders with “four bumps on my head, but where they came from I could not recall except the first one which came from his inside knee. The second, third and fourth must have come from his other knee and his two elbows”. Tries inevitably re- sulted when his captain Bennie Os- ler punted and exhorted: “Chase it, Zimie!” This became a lighthearted stock phrase of the Springbok team whenever an attempted drop goal failed. He eventually became conve- nor of the SA Selection Committee. From this position, he frequently advised young players: “You must take risks, and if you give away a try in doing so, score more tries than your opponents, which you will, if you do take risks.”

Bertram “Geoff” Gray (Spring- bok). Devastating with ball-in-hand, scintillating to watch and one of the most innovative players of his time. This centre/flyhalf would have played many more tests had he not been bedevilled by injury. At his funeral Dr. Craven acclaimed his spirit of adventure and gentlemanly demeanor with “A gentleman loved throughout the land”

“Frankie” Waring (Springbok). His immense swerve and side-step led to him becoming a heavily marked man. He counteracted this by innovation – the result: the short punt and grubber kick which he employed with startling success. His knowledge of centre play and the ability to communicate and guide backline partners was awesome. 

 

1940-1950
Cecil Moss (springbok, Vice-Captain). a determined, intelligent runner with long legs that provided excep- tional speed for this wing. He scored a try against the 1949 all Blacks and subsequently became a national selector and the extremely successful national coach.

Basil Butler (Western Province). Prodigious, reli- able goal kicker, he was also a dashing wing. the 1948 intervarsity goes down in history as “Butler’s Game”, because of the immense impact his placekicking and running had on the outcome.

Dennis Fry (springbok). stephen’s brother was a flyhalf/centre rated one of the most gifted players of his time. a versatile tactician, his magnificent hand- ling and passing led to many tries. Dennis graced our playing fields for many years before eventually being selected for the great south african team that toured Great Britain in 1951. on tour he was named official understudy to the great Hansie Brewis for four test matches – only never to actually play. 

1950-1960

Paul Johnstone (Springbok). Epitomising the term mercurial, his phenomenal speed, side-step and swerve dumbfounded many adversaries. Added to these attributes were uncanny positional play and the power to read the game situation. Re- cognised as a genius, coaches allowed this wing to prepare for matches on his own. His two greatest impacts were scoring three tries against Scotland at Murrayfield and brilliantly engineering victory over the Maties in “Paul Johnstone’s Intervarsity”.

A “Bertus” van der Merwe (Springbok). A former UCT Third XV player, the hooker was picked for South Africa in 1955. Interestingly, former UCT First XV hooker, Colin Kroon, also played for SA that year. Bertus eventually played 12 test matches for South Africa – mostly while playing for Boland. In New Zealand 1956, the other Springbok hooker became seriously injured, Bertus played each Saturday and Wednesday for 14 consecutive matches including test matches. His son died while Bertus was on tour. He however, elected to stay in New Zealand as not to let his team down.

Stephen Fry (Springbok, Captain). Dr Moss has already described Fry’s admirable playing skills as a flank. His remarkable leadership how- ever deserves special mention. Decisive, prin- cipled, assertive yet considerate, he encouraged and guided the Springboks through the greatest home international series this country has ever witnessed – against the 1955 British Isles Lions.

“kallie” van der Colff (WP, later Captain of Griqualand West). A colossus, even by today’s stan- dards. The lock would single-handedly take on and subdue the opposing pack of forwards – particu- larly the Maties. He used his immense strength to prevail in ruck and maul situations. Played rugby for SA Universities and was crowned SA Universi- ties Heavyweight Boxing Champion; yet mild mannered; he eventually proved to be a great leader of men, both on and off the rugby field. Scottish rugby doyens stated that Kallie was: “The biggest rugby player ever to come to Scotland.”

Dick Lockyear (Springbok, Vice- Captain).

The scrumhalf took eight years to complete a four-year engineering degree – his great friend Basil Holmes took nine. Those were the days! Dick was the absolute student icon, epitomising UCT spirit and ethos. His humble, quiet demeanour and uncanny insight into strategies and tactics inspired his teammates. He knew each man’s special capabilities and talents and skilfully brought them into play. Coupled with this were excellent anticipation, coordination and reflexes and a prodigious, accurate pass. A lasting image is Dick Lockyear diving deftly to palm an awkward ball delivered from lineout or scrum to a waiting backline. He should have been picked for South Africa many years before he was. Eventually hon- oured as Springbok Vice-Captain, he even kicked the match-winning penalty in the final moment of a test match.

Brian Pfaff (Springbok). The flyhalf was possibly the most gifted player in the UCT team. Absolutely brilliant in spotting gaps, he would with unique style glide through opposition defences to create opportunities for his backline. He was the supreme tactician and served his university excellently. He manfully overcame ill health and injury, which eventually curtailed his international career.

Tommy Gentles (Springbok) was selected from UCT’s second team to play scrumhalf for South Africa. Dick Lockyear was the first team scrumhalf at the time. Scintillating breaks around the scrum characterised his play. Tommy’s reflexes were mea- sured to be the quickest in the Springbok squad. He left UCT to join Villagers and played numerous matches for the Springboks. 

1968 – Ian McCallum’s definition of varsity rugby

It is a great privilege to be a part of this edition of the history of UCT RFC. The privilege however, is for morethan the very small part I have played. It is the privilege of being a part of an ethos – a characteristic spirit unique to this great Club. It is an ethos that is not only enduring but central to the core meaning of the word Varsity itself. To me, Varsity was and will always be a mantra, another name for a striped form of DNA that unites people, places and the joy of playing a game, first and foremost, for the sheer love of it.

As far as I am aware, in this coun- try, to say that you played rugby for Varsity can only mean one place, one club … UCT. It tells us that the name Varsity is a copyright and a brand all in one. And it is not for sale. We can be very proud of that.

At times, deeply envied for the intellectual energy, the daring and adventure that it traditionally brings into this sometimes, brutish game, it is a brand and an ethos that cannot be adequately described or prescribed. It has to be experienced and if you are fortunate enough to have done so, you will know what I mean when I say that playing for "Varsity" comes with a guarantee – it will influence the rest of your life. Looking back, playing for this club was undoubtedly pivotal in my life. Like many before and after, I was shaped by great names, great team mates and by the joy and heartache of the game itself. Varsity was my field of dreams and my wake-up call. Yes, I took the cry “Wake up Varsity!” personally. It was the prov- ing ground for the realisation that individuality is impossible outside of relationship, companionship and mentorship. I am grateful to those who made this possible. To me, the words Varsity and Ubuntu are practically synonymous.

Ian McCallum played fullback for UCT, Western Province and the Springboks (1970 to 1974). He is a medical doctor and psychiatrist, author and poet. He has spent the past ten years guiding travellers throughout Southern Africa and parts of East Africa. 

1911 – Ikeys Maties history

The origin of the word Matie is in doubt. It was first used in 1911, apparently by the men of the south african College who looked down their noses at their country cousins, who called one another maat or its diminutive matie (chum).

Apparently the word is not a corruption of tamatie (tomato) as description of the maroon of the stellenbosch jersey. In 1918 the men of the stellenbosch song Committee put their heads to- gether and in retaliation came up with the name ikey for UCT, because of the large number of Jews at UCT. It refers to a silly verse, which started: “Ikey Moses, King of the Jews”.

The students’ representative Council (SRC) of UCT did not like the name because of its possible anti-semitism and protested in 1920 and 1921. In fact in 1921 they were due to attend a meeting with the Stellenbosch SRC to discuss the matter and 20 May was set down as a date for the meeting. But they had omitted to notice that there was no train to stellenbosch on a Friday and the meeting never took place.

There were sporadic protest in the early 1930s, but the name stuck. Both nicknames, born of some contempt, have become names of honour.

Explained by: Paul Dobson

1882 – The early years of UCT rugby