A Master of Detailed Planning
Written by Naas Botha. (An Excerpt from the Book: Doc Moss My Life in Rugby)
Cecil Moss played for South Africa in 1949 and I know him as a well organised, highly respected and well liked rugby player. He brought the same attributes and attitude into his coaching and mentorship. I was impressed, very much so, by his knowledge and his kindness.
With his attitude and preparation he ea.rned the respect of all players, especially with his ability to listen and his acceptance of all, and he was immediately accepted and respected by the players. In those days provincialism was a massive factor and what I liked about Doc was that he united the team, listened to all and made everyone feel welcome and uniﬁed the team with common purpose. The respect in his team was very strong.
At a time when we were starved of rugby, the only result that the South African public would accept was winning. We had a fantastic group of players, as everyone knows, but Doc had the formula to make everyone feel important and valued. He managed to pull it all together. He ensured we were motivated as a team and as individuals.
He worked out a great overall plan that we all bought into. He was the master of detailed planning and he worked very hard to ensure that we played to our strengths and that the opposition could not play to theirs. Doc wanted to ensure that we controlled upfront and the backs could make their own decisions. He empowered us to make those decisions and play what was in front of us. Doc spent just as much time analysing the opposition and knew them inside out. But he was also hard on us and he went to great lengths to ensure that we did not make the same mistake twice.
We were underdogs going into the New Zealand Cavaliers series in 1986. But Doc got us believing in ourselves and that we would show the world what the Springboks were capable of.
He is a great coach and a great man. I have so much respect for him. And I wish him absolutely everything of the best and he deserves every accolade that this great man gets.
A Proud Friend and Colleague
Written by Ivan Nurick. (An Excerpt from the Book: Doc Moss My Life in Rugby)
UCT has been fortunate in the respect that it has produced great players, coaches and administrators. Cecil’s name shines high among the few who have delivered in every sphere of the club’s activities. and I am proud to have been both a friend and colleague of his.
I well remember the late 1960s when Cecil was coaching Varsity. We were both working in operating theatres at Somerset and Cecil was absolutely deluged with calls from his beloved ﬁrst team players. That, of course, was in an era prior to telephones being installed in theatres and long before the birth of mobile phones. However. he was available for every problem, most of which concerned matters far removed from rugby.
In recent years it has been my pleasure to watch games together with Cecil. One which stands out was the 2009 Intervarsity. That tradition, the highlight of my student years and in addition the fondest memory of my children at UCT, was totally denigrated by being relegated to a 2.15pm curtain-raiser for a game between the Stormers and the Force.
In a virtually deserted upper main stand Cecil and I prayed that we would hold on to a 16-16 draw. Then in 2012. We were together for the ﬁnal game against the Vics. We needed to win with a bonus point and at half-time, they were 22-9 up. Could the unthinkable happen and Varsity not make it?
Having enjoyed these experiences with him, I can emphasise that he was a great player, a great coach. selector and manager, but he is most deﬁnitely not a great optimist. Possibly his considerable humility ﬁnds companionship in pessimism, though he would probably call it realism
Once more, I am privileged to call Cecil my friend.
A Varsity Man to his Bootstraps
Written by Alan Solomons. (An Excerpt from the Book: Doc Moss My Life in Rugby)
I ﬁrst really got to know Doc when I took over as Varsity Club Captain in 1973. Already at that pomt he was a legend ofvarsity rugby and one of the ﬁnest coaches in South Africa. Over time our relationship developed and a tight bond formed between us which remains to the present day.
Doc went on to great things in South African rugby and became the national coach leading us to a famous series victory over the All Blacks in the guise of the Cavaliers in 1986. Despite this, Doc never lost the common touch and Varsity always remained close to his heart. When I started my coaching career, Doc became my mentor and when I took over the reins of the 1st XV he actively assisted whenever possible despite being the national coach.
An abiding memory of Doc is him standing in the teeming rain and wind with his umbrella coaching the Varsity backs straight after coming off the back of an arduous series against the New Zealand Cavaliers. There are not many national coaches who would do this, but it typiﬁed Doc’s unselﬁsh and giving approach.
Varsity has truly been blessed to have a man of the calibre of Doc, who has added enormous value to the club as player coach and administrator. He has enriched the life of many a student and certainly mine.
When time fades and games become a distant memory, what remains are the people you meet along the way. Doc is one of the ﬁnest men I have met and I am proud to call him my friend.
Doc — mentor, friend and a Varsity man to his bootstraps; truly one of a kind.
Altering the Compass of My Life
Written by Ian McCallum. (An Excerpt from the Book: Doc Moss My Life in Rugby)
It should be clear from the anecdotes in this book that Cecil Moss has had a remarkable inﬂuence on the lives of many individuals — both on and off the playing ﬁelds of rugby. He was and remains one of the most self-effacing individuals I know.
Coupled with an intense interest in bringing out the best in his charges, I think, on looking back, it was this particular quality — his humility — that made him not only an inspiring coach but a great manager of men. I owe him a lot and that is to put it mildly. However, if it was not for him it is unlikely that I would have embarked on a career of medicine. It took one sentence in a letter from him in 1967 to alter the compass of my life.
Graduating as an unspectacular Bachelor of Arts and Social Science in 1965, I was accepted into the Faculty of Medicine for the following year. Faced with the long haul of study that lay ahead including ﬁnding the money to ﬁnance my dream, I began to have doubts. I postponed my acceptance for a year and embarked on what I can only describe as a year of creative confusion. With a month to go before the commencement of the new academic year, I was still unsure. Pressured by family and friends to make the most of an opportunity to work for the Anglo American Corporation in Johannesburg, I agreed to do the sensible and then wrote a letter to Cecil to tell him of my decision.
On the morning of my scheduled interview at Anglos head office in Marshall Street, a return letter arrived from Cecil. In it he wrote of his acceptance of my decision, about his family and his plans for Varsity rugby and in closing he added: “I think you will do well in whatever you do but I do know you would have been a ﬁne doctor.”
It was all I needed to snap me out of my terrible state of indecision. This man believed in me. What a gift. I felt like a butterﬂy coming out of a cocoon.
Inside the month I was on my way to Cape Town with minimal baggage and the blessings of my family. On arriving, I went to Cecil and Jill’s apartment in Rondebosch. “Hello Cecil” I said. “Im back.”
Written by Dugald Macdonald. (An Excerpt from the Book: Doc Moss My Life in Rugby)
He gave it to me one afternoon at Newlands in the ’73 season. l still have that day’s programme: a green broad-sheet with captions boxed around the team and player photographs. A cross before a name showed that the player had represented Western Province, a star that he was a Springbok. How we yearned to have those black marks against our names!
That afternoon the Maties were all crosses and asterisks. Not us, trailing by four, two minutes to the whistle, we launched from our goal line, the hysterical lower South stand willing the ball through nine pairs of hands miraculously into the North-east corner. A Kodak moment: the original try from the ends of the earth. A conversion to rival St Paul’s followed and we trembled on the edge of the impossible.
One didn’t do high ﬁves in those days but mentally that’s where we were as the Maties collected their own kick-off and seconds later plunged gratefully under the posts. We were met in the tunnel by a fuming Doc Moss. Unleashing ﬂame throwers and bazookas, he herded us into our changing-morgue and reduced us one by one to cinder. Then, with withering ﬁnality, he turned and gave us a rugby lesson as apt today as it was for Webb Ellis: “You have only scored once you are back in your opponents’ 25.”
With the passing seasons I came to understand that this was how he lived. A relentlessly restless mind, questioning and seeking a better way, never dwelling long on his accomplishments, turning to the next challenge, striving to get back into that 25-yard- area, without which any previous success meant nothing. For us congenital complacents this is hard to live with.
“You have only scored once you are back in your opponents’ 25.” It’s no ordinary rugby lesson but a lesson for life. And so this is Doc’s…to all of us.
Giving Rugby a Good Name
Written by Morné du Plessis. (An Excerpt from the Book: Doc Moss My Life in Rugby)
What a privilege it is to be able to contribute in a small way to this book about an exceptional individual, Dr Cecil Moss.
Even though I write this endorsement before having the opportunity of reading the completed work, I am absolutely sure this account of the rugby life of “Doc” Moss will serve as a living testament for all that is good about the game of rugby and the values it promotes. This man gives rugby a good name.
A dedicated family man, a talented medical doctor, and ex-Springbok, who has selﬂessly dedicated a great deal of his life to the game of rugby. Coaching, selecting, managing, guiding and motivating young rugby players, acting as mentor and conﬁdant, looking after their welfare, and never once asking or seeking reward or recommendation.
I had the privilege of playing under Doc Moss as a coach and manager, and the lasting impression on me and my fellow teammates was the extensive rugby knowledge and total commitment to his “boys” in the team. This commitment never wavered and like any “father” his affection was enhanced by the underlying discipline and respect he engendered, a total honestly, and his consistency of action. I am sure I echo the sentiments of generations of UCT, Western Province and Springbok rugby players.
Nineteen-forty-nine is the year that I was born. It was also the ﬁrst year after World War II that the Springboks resumed international Test matches, this against Fred Allen’s All Blacks. The three men who would have a major inﬂuence on my own rugby career would be part of that team. My late father Felix was the captain, Danie Craven the manager and Cecil Moss the wing. I am proud to have known all of these men.
Morné du Plessis