Collecting and collating Basil Bey tributes, anecdotes and stories reveals an array of wonderful contributions from a diverse spread of Ikey players; not only of the Basil Bey era at UCT and at False Bay, but also from ODs, long- time friends of the great man, and rugby followers from all over South Africa and abroad.
One of UCT rugby’s icons, Gustave Enderstein, deserves to be included in the contributions. A cruel malfunction in that mighty frame, brought on by the struggle to master Italian as a means of cajoling Italian rugby players into playing the game ‘Gussie’s Way’, and some dodgy pasta, robbed Gus of one of his prime weapons; articulate, passionate power of speech.
Gus is one of my dearest friends, much loved and admired by many of us. He was never short of words on and off the rugby field. His perspicacity in identifying my shortcomings as a rugby player, way back in 1965, resulted not in a negative ‘Enderstein Dissection’, but in constructive encouragement and guidance. That was the ‘Gus Way’, as it was the ‘Bey Way. Both great Ikey men believed in the mantra; ‘You don’t coach; you encourage.’ That did not mean soft peddling, pussyfoot guidance. Both men had the gift of lighting a fire in one. You were more scared of disappointing them than any opponent.
Gus learned much from Basil Bey. He had the courage and innate strength of character, and body, to spread the Bey rugby philosophy far and wide, at school level and in club rugby. He added his own passionate verbal persuasion; often with dry humour and powerful words’ – many, many words. Basil was a man of fewer words. Both were extremely effective in spreading the gospel of rugby as it should be played.
I hope that Gus and his wonderfully supportive wife, Billy (a force of nature in her own right) approve of my inadequate, but well-intentioned ‘Gus paying tribute to Basil Bey’ offering.
Basil would have smiled his enigmatic little smile and intoned: ‘Gus is a good bloke; a real rugby man.’ Gus Enderstein has earned that praise from the man who made rugby a pleasurable and noble pursuit.
A Note from Billy Enderstein
Wife of Gus Enderstein
Bless you for taking the initiative in speaking for Gus when he couldn’t. It’s been very tricky for me trying to interpret Gus’ feelings about Basil’s passing and how to respond to others on his behalf. He, like all of us, was shaken. However, having spoken at length to Gus on their relationship, he was quite clear that they both shared the belief that the way the game was played was more important than the score, and this allowed for a deeply collaborative relationship as far as being players, teachers and coaches were concerned.
Basil was Gus’ captain at a formative time of his life, and he learned a lot from him. I don’t think he would have been consciously spreading the Bey rugby philosophy, because it was so intuitive; but clearly the mark had been made and would never leave him. It was one of Gus’ greatest pleasures to have coached Martin – Basil’s son – in a style which was so close to his own.
I know Basil was very happy to see Gus and I together, and was not surprised that we were so well suited, because as far he saw it, I was the fire and Gus was the earth. I hold that memory of insight close to my heart, along with the warmth with which he always received us. We will miss you Basil.