London - Three former Springboks were inducted into the International Rugby Board’s Hall of Fame at a ceremony at Rugby School in England on Tuesday evening.
Barry “Fairy” Heatlie, Benny Osler and Frik du Preez formed part of a selection of nine legends that were inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame, celebrating the rich history of British & Irish Lions tours to South Africa.
Oregan Hoskins, president of the South African Rugby Union, said he was delighted to have these former Springboks honoured by the IRB.
“The IRB has selected three legends of South African rugby to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and we’re delighted for our sport to be honoured in such a way,” said Hoskins. “They are names that may be lost on the modern generation of rugby supporters but each in their own way was a trail blazer of the game in our country and we can be rightly proud of them.
“Fairy Heatlie captained South Africa to our first ever victory in a Test while Bennie Osler was a genius flyhalf who is credited with inventing the grubber kick and developed flyhalf play as we know it today.
“Frik du Preez is a more modern name and his prowess as a rampaging forward with size, skills and pace is the benchmark against which we judge our forwards to this day.”
The Inductees spanned the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries and are, in order of their induction:
No 12: William E. Maclagan (Scotland and British)
No 13: Barry H. Heatlie (South Africa)
No 14: Benjamin L. Osler (South Africa)
No 15: Clifford I. Morgan CVO OBE (Wales and Lions)
No 16: Sir Anthony J.F. O’Reilly (Ireland and Lions)
No 17: Frederick C.H. du Preez (South Africa)
No 18: Dr Sydney Millar CBE (Ireland and Lions)
No 19: William J. McBride (Ireland and Lions)
No 20: Ian R. McGeechan (Scotland and Lions)
Heatlie, who was born in 1872 and passed away in 1951, played against the British touring teams on their tours to South Africa in 1891, 1896 and 1903. He played a total of six Tests for South Africa.
Osler, like Heatlie from Western Province, played a total of 17 Tests for the Springboks between 1924 and 1933, which included the 1924-series against the Lions. He was born in 1901 and passed away in 1962.
Du Preez, who was born in 1935, played 38 Tests and a total of 87 matches for South Africa. He played the Lions twice during his career – in 1962 and 1968. His first Test for the Boks was against England in 1961 and his last against Australia in 1971.
The 2009 induction in the Temple Speech Room also included the inaugural IRB Lecture, given by IRB Council member and 2009 Lions Manager Gerald Davies on the British & Irish Lions and the Spirit of the Game.
This year witnessed the 13th Lions tour to South Africa and provided another memorable chapter in a rich history, which began 118 years ago when William Maclagan led his British team to South Africa in 1891.
“The Lions reflect what we think of as camaraderie and the sense of fun in togetherness which are major selling points in Rugby. There is no division, no exclusion of one set of supporters from another, no barriers,” Davies said in his lecture.
“The Lions represent the last of the Rugby adventures. Ask any player who has been on a Lions tour, his views are expressed with reverence as a treasured moment. Those who have not been wish that they had, or given another chance will go next time.”
Members of the public were invited to vote on nominees from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, giving Rugby fans around the world an opportunity to recognise their most treasured players.
These votes were then compiled before the IRB Hall of Fame Induction Panel, comprising Don Cameron (New Zealand), Gerald Davies (Wales), Henri Garcia (France), Norman Mair (Scotland), Pablo Mamone (Argentina) and Nigel Starmer-Smith (England) selected the nine legends to be inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2009.
“It has been a great pleasure to return to Rugby School and this historic setting has provided the inductees with yet another memorable occasion in their illustrious Rugby careers,” said IRB Vice Chairman Bill Beaumont.
“It has been my great honour and privilege to present the inductees and their representatives whose names are synonymous with the proud history and relationship between South Africa and the Lions.”
Previous IRB Hall of Fame inductees:
2006 – William Webb Ellis and Rugby School
2007 – Baron Pierre de Coubertin, Sir Wilson Whineray, Dr. Danie Craven, Gareth Edwards and John Eales
2008 – 1888 Natives Team of New Zealand and Joe Warbrick, Melrose RFC and Ned Haig, Dr. Jack Kyle, Hugo Porta and Philippe Sella