Family Eulogy: Cecil Moss
Excerpts from the Family Eulogy
Everyone will know the man whose life we are celebrating here by a different name. To some of you Cecil, others he is Doc Moss, to others Dad, but to me he simply went by Grandpa. It was requested by him before his passing that I say a few words about him and I’m sure in his mind that is all there is to say about him. We are all aware this is the furthest thing from the truth.
From a very poor humble up-bringing, he has achieved what many could only dream of and his list of achievements almost endless, however, in this speech, I wish to focus not on the achievements, instead on his passions and qualities that made my grandfather so loved by all.
My grandfather had many loves in his life, his wife Jill to whom in two days would have been married for 67 years, his two children Tessa and Jaime and his grandchildren Nicholas, Jason, Joshua & myself. However, I am afraid to say that none of that love even came close to his love for Rugby.
As many of you might know my grandfather was a Springbok. I was told a story by my mother about when he was a made a Springbok. At that time, my grandfather went to visit with his brother Bing in Harare. Whilst staying there he had nothing to do so he took himself over to a nearby golf course and began to take up golf lessons. At the end of first lesson, the teacher turned around and said to him “Maybe you should take up another hobby as ball sports aren’t your forte”.
One of my fondest memories of him occurred in 2013. In Australia, most of the international rugby operates on a red eye schedule and that night/morning was no different. There I sat at 1 or 2 in the morning watching what was to be a historic match between All Blacks and Ireland. I sat in darkness and silence when I heard someone pottering down the hallway followed by the light of his traveller’s torch which he took everywhere with him. He sat himself down next to me and what followed was wailing and shrieking with such animation that I am surprised it did not result in the neighbours calling the police.
His love for the game was undeniable and the game was his life.
He was also very proud of his family. One of the proudest moments that my grandfather and mother share, is where they worked together as anaesthetist and anaesthetic nurse at Groote Schuur Hospital in the operating theatre. Likewise, he has expressed his pride at every mile stone in our lives be it academic success, graduations, newfound employment, even with regards to new relationships he has expressed his support and joy with the utmost sincerity. He wanted nothing more to bring out the best in his family.
I have much to thank my grandfather for. Without his aid my family, experiencing hardship, would have been in dire straits. But when the going got tough he gave everything he could and had, for the good of his family.
When people remember my grandfather, they will remember certain qualities about him.
First of which is his humility. Personally, the death of my grandfather really hit me the night after he died. We sat in the living room in front of the Currie Cup Final. As I am sure many of you saw, just prior to the game there was a minute’s silence for him. 52,000 people in a stadium and you could have heard a pin drop. If you had asked him weeks earlier in the case of his passing if this was even a remote possibility he would have shushed you as he believed himself wholly undeserving of this. In his mind, he was the smallest fish in a big pond.
I remember walking around Cape Town with my grandfather and on each occasion, somebody would stop him on the street, greet him and ask him how he was doing or even give him rugby advice, to which he would stand patiently and listen. Afterwards we would ask him if he knew this person and more often than not he would tell us he didn’t have the faintest idea who they were.
My grandfather instilled in his family a great sense of loyalty. He practiced what he preached and every Sunday he would go to his parent’s house and would walk with his father along Sea Point Beach front and then would return and eat the most unbelievably stale liquorice all-sorts that his mother kept in her quality street tin. He was so loyal to family that when he was offered coaching positions in America he turned them down, so he did not leave his parents in their aging years.
My grandfather was mischievous. I distinctly remember every time he stirred my mother or grandmother up, sometimes on purpose, he would shoot me a smile and a giggle.
My grandfather also went by another name to those close to him. That name was ‘Oumatjie’. He used to fuss and cluck over all those near and dear to him. He was not adverse to nagging and nagging and nagging and nagging. Although you should be honoured if he did. If he nagged you it meant he cared for you and wanted you to do the best that you possibly could.
A LIFE WELL LIVED
My grandfather will be remembered for the legacy he left behind. Although the legacy he leaves behind will be one of achievement, it was not done at the expense of kindness, honesty and respect for his fellow human being.
On a personal level, he has changed me for the better. I have learnt that in any given situation to ask myself “what is the right thing to do here” and regardless of adversary or situation faced, I can walk away knowing that I have done what is right.
Like his father before him they lived by a creed, “even when life is at its worst, I have a lot to be thankful for”. I think everyone here and especially myself should be thankful for having had this man in their lives in some fashion
Grandpa, I love you, we all love you and I promise I will make you proud.
Cecil Moss: A Man of a Deep, Decent, Character
Written by Neville Isdell, UCT Rugby Patron
There are people in your life who imprint on you without them really knowing. Cecil was one of those people in my life.
From him first being a coach to a young player finding his way through the lower leagues to after anabsence of contact for nearly fifty years, I remember the quiet way he exercised his influence. He, together with Doc Louis, decided I was a flank not a lock. It changed my rugby enjoyment immensely. I know my lock friends will not like my denigrating the power house of the scrums but Cecil was right, as I was just a skinny lock.
Many years later as I reengaged with UCT rugby I rediscovered Cecil.
He was as unchanged in his basic decency and modesty as when I had first met him. His knowledge was deep and he always quietly made you think, not just about rugby but on many other more worldly things.
Cecil we all will miss you. You were a man of a deep, decent, character.
There are not many one can say that about.
Cecil Moss: A Real Ikey Tiger and Rugby Man
Written by Kevin Musikanth, Former Ikeys Coach
“Doc Moss will be sadly missed, a real Ikey Tiger and rugby man. More than that, Doc Moss was a genuine person that really cared. I connected with Doc Moss when I started coaching Ikeys in 2014 and found him to be a great mentor to me. During my Varsity Cup campaigns of 2014 and 2015, Doc would invite me to his house for tea and go through the matches with me, giving me razor sharp rugby honesty and priceless rugby advice. I will never forget, even after my move to JHB, Doc still engaging with me and his gentle support and care.
Doc’s achievements in life speak for themselves, a successful Ikey coach, exceptional WP Rugby coach and one of the highest ranked Springbok coaches in history; couple this with being a Springbok himself and a Doctor to boot. This is a man that did it all.
As a rugby coach you interact with rugby people daily and over time you realize that there are so many good people around this game. However, very seldom do you meet people that can change your life in an instant. Doc Moss was one such person.
I think to sum up Doc in a tribute is virtually impossible, but what speaks volumes to me around his character is a favorite photo that he showed me, it is one of him standing with Peter Whipp, Chris Pope and Dugald MacDonald – the picture shows him as a young coach with them being involved as young students at Ikeys, then another with him with them as the WP coach, and then finally them and him as Springboks.
This shows a full rugby journey, some years later there is a picture of them again, all now legends of the game but as “ordinary grown up men”, still with their coach and still in contact. This is the full circle of life, captured in 4 instances, Doc Moss had this ability to change lives and shape futures, I will continue to look up to him and respect him as life and rugby goes on.”
From One ‘Gentleman’ to Another
Written by Bodo Sieber, Ikey Old Boy.
It has been a great privilege to be a small part of the rugby life that was Doc’s. The way he has shaped the people and the environment that I got to enjoy and treasure at UCT has been immense, and I am very grateful for that. He used to call me ‘the gentleman’ – in his, when you spend 5 minutes chatting to Doc the time stands still kind of way.
I remember he came on tour with us to Oxford and Cambridge as the senior statesman manager. Our stand in coach was 25 years old, Doc was 77! We played the supposed UK University Champion, Brunel University in our first warm up / contact match of the season and beat them handsomely within a day of stepping off the plane.
These guys were determined to let loose after the game and introduced us to their pub culture and drinking songs that rivalled the most raucous nights at the Ikeys pub. As their prop got up on a table having been challenged to set his pubes alight, to everyones outrage and marvel, Doc decided we had 5 more minutes to finish up, cause Cambridge were looming 3 days later.
Much like the Salisbury brewery visit was cut short in 1967, Doc had plans for that 2003 Ikeys touring team that beat Cambridge by 6 tries to 2.
A True Gentleman
Written by Silke Colquhoun, Journalist
In 2011/12 I was fortunate enough to meet Doc Moss on a regular basis because we worked together on his autobiography (“Doc Moss: My Life in Rugby”). He was always well prepared, full of interesting stories and tended to downplay his own achievements. All he wanted to talk about was rugby – Ikey rugby, war-time rugby, Western Province rugby, Springbok rugby, playing rugby, coaching rugby – and I really had to probe to get to the bottom of other interesting stories (such as his involvement in the world’s first heart transplant or being the anaesthetist for Nelson Mandela, who was at the time a political prisoner on Robben Island).
Throughout our meetings, Doc Moss was the embodiment of an old-school gentleman. One morning when I arrived at his Rondebosch apartment complex, Monorgan Mews, it was pouring down with rain. I’d parked in front of his building, as usual, and was just about to brace the Cape rain storm when I was surprised to see his car pulling up next to me.
He had left his apartment, taken the lift down to the basement garage, got in his car and driven the short distance to where I was parked in order to save me from walking a few metres in the rain and getting soaked. He smiled and gallantly motioned for me to get in his car, before we went upstairs and proceeded with our work.
They say manners maketh the man, and what a man he was.