1961 UCT 1st XV
Basil was an important source of inspiration to me throughout my rugby career at UCT from 1959 to 1963. Without realizing it, my time playing rugby at UCT coincided with the period during which Basil evolved from being a young untried UCT 1st XV captain, to an emerging iconic figure by the time we went our separate ways at the end of 1963.
I arrived in Cape Town in 1959 having grown up in the Eastern Cape. As a teenager who was devoted to following rugby, the ideal team from my perspective, in all of South Africa, was that of UCT. The University rugby team had a national reputation for playing fast, open and clean rugby. UCT had produced an endless stream of great Western Province and Springbok players like Paul Johnstone, Dennis and Stephen Fry, Dick Lockyear and Brian Pfaff, to name a few; players with a reputation for being not only wonderful rugby players, but also true gentlemen.
So, it was with a sense of awe that I arrived in Cape Town in 1959, played in the freshman trials and was lucky enough to play for that wonderful UCT Under 19A team of 1959, captained by Steve Cloete and coached by Doc Porky Wells.
That year was Basil’s first year as 1st XV Captain, and when I first got to know him. Right from the start of our long association he was warm and encouraging to me, and to all of us in the UCT Under 19A team. It was the ultimate privilege and pleasure to get engaged in an earnest and passionate conversation with Basil at Forries, our unofficial UCT Clubhouse, on a Saturday night when the post- game analysis and the lessons learned from that afternoon’s game were debated, dissected and absorbed. To be included in these post-match sessions with Basil was heady stuff for a 19-year-old freshman. To be taken seriously by the 1st XV Captain was very special. Even then, so many years ago, his sincerity, warmth, humility and innate decency stood out like a beacon for an impressionable youngster.
1961 UCT 1st XV Intervarsity Winner (Lock)
Great and true tribute from Vince. He wrote so adequately and accurately from my own heart, that it would be self-indulgent for me to add to something already complete.
Quite simply, every privileged minute l played with him, I played for him.
Thank you, dear Basil, for the memories. Thank you.