1961 UCT 1st XV
I met basil in March 1960. He, being club captain, had come to meet the new boy rugby players. After some general chat, I questioned the apparent lack of fitness training at first year level. His reply was simple: “you train as hard as you choose, the others play touch instead”.
His motto could easily be ‘Run and Pass’.
A most loved man, even if he did not like headmasters and did like his castle beer.
Andrew Sass and Ann Sass
1961 UCT 1st XV Intervarsity Winner (Prop)
Sitting in the Bishops Chapel listening to the wonderful eulogies to Basil by Paul and Martin, so many memories resurfaced. Telling us that Basil did not waste words reminded me that after fulfilling all the requirements to be allowed to graduate, Basil used only two words in the telegram to his mother, “Bey BA”. So typical of the great man.
I first met Basil, already a ‘Senior’, in a ‘Newman’ line-up in Smuts Hall. As Newmen we had to wear green ties and a large circular label with all our details, including the sports we wanted to take part in. He was there, not to try intimidate us as so many of the other Seniors enjoyed doing, but to make sure that all of us with rugby listed on our labels knew when and where to get signed up. He endeared himself to us there and then as a special person.
Two years later I was privileged to serve as his Match Secretary and play in that amazing 1961 team of his. It was during my stint as Match Secretary that I learned that there was so much more to Basil than the rugger-bugger image he put on show. After reading one of Basil’s essays, a tender love story across the colour line so absolutely taboo in the time of apartheid, I had to do a serious re-evaluation. Learning later of his love of poetry thus came as no surprise.
Thank you Paul and Martin for doing such an amazing job of paying tribute to the one-and-only Basil and his legacy.
1961 UCT 1st XV
Aside from Basil’s rugby and teaching career, he was an extraordinary perspicacious and caring individual. I’m reminded of a non-rugby and never told episode:
In my youth, I used to be mad keen and involved with a girl in Cape Town. Her parents thought I wasn’t good enough for their daughter and did everything they could to make things very difficult. It included me not being able to attend her 21st birthday party in their palatial home in Tokai. Basil was invited as were all the “rogues and vagabonds” from Dean Street.
They all went to the party, but Basil, sensing I was upset, stayed with me at Forries. We got incredibly pissed together and played in a darts match for most of the evening. It was my only competitive darts match ever. We eventually went back to Dean Street where we had Archie and Alky to spend the night with. Eventually the others came back from the 21st pissed as farts and rather surprisingly went to sleep.
I stayed the night and we were woken up by someone banging at the front door. It was ‘the birthday girl’ and a friend who said they had come to retrieve the Crates of booze and a Persian rug which were missing (which the Dean Street boys had ‘high-spiritedly borrowed’ from her parents’ home the night before). The message from her father was ‘unless they were handed back to her, he would report the matter to the police’.
Bleary eyed and with dry throats, the booze and the carpet (which to this day I still maintain had nothing to do with me) were sheepishly gathered up and handed back to our early morning visitors.
Of course, I was blamed (…his friends etc.) and the relationship, such as it was, ended.
The point is, Basil and I were the only two of our coterie who didn’t go to the party, only due to his decision to keep me company when I hadn’t been invited. A good friend he was. Mind you, he also didn’t care much for parties in those days, but he stayed with me while everyone else had a wonderful time. Nevertheless, I still got into kak!
1961 UCT 1st XV Intervarsity Winner (Wing)
There must be a million stories about Basil… I will leave it to his more erudite friends to relate them.
I somehow always refer back to two…
- Basil’s love of rugby and the rugby ball was absolute. The only time this waivered was just after he had seen a Brigitte Bardot movie. It was said that for a while, he contemplated that a rugby ball might only be the second best shaped thing in the world.
- Before UCT/US played the Barbarians at Coetzenberg, we had lunch at a hotel. At the table, everyone ordered a soft drink except for Basil, who ordered a beer. Jannie Krige, our coach, was not happy about it, but Basil stuck to his guns and had his beer.
He was always his own man. Remember him fondly.