Six Nations

Botha ‘too light’ for Stormers

2012-02-09 11:36
Mouritz Botha (AFP)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – England lock Mouritz Botha, prominent in their Six Nations victory over Scotland at Murrayfield last weekend, says he was once deemed “too light” to succeed in the Stormers second row.

The blond, red scrum-capped Botha, 30, earned mostly rave reviews for his busy, full 80 minutes against the old enemy on Saturday, and was the subject of a major feature in the London-based Daily Mail on Thursday.

Under a headline “The incredible rise of Botha: From carpet cleaner to England’s second-row bombshell”, Saracens-based Botha, born in Vryheid, was quoted as saying: “I was told I would never make it as a rugby player in South Africa.

“At 105kg, I was too light to succeed in the second row at the Stormers.”

He revealed how he emailed several English clubs for employment, eventually joining humble Bedford Athletic in 2004, although they dropped out of National League Three North at the end of his first season.

Botha even got involved in carpet cleaning while he sought fresh English rugby pastures.

“The carpet washing was the most difficult job I did ... it was crazy hours and not something I really enjoyed.

“There was a tumble dryer about three metres high. I dried the carpets and then you had to roll and fold them. I would do about six tons a day, which was brutal – the shift was from six in the morning until two in the afternoon, then I’d go home, have a nap and go to training.”

Resolute in his determination to play for his adopted country, Botha’s playing career took a pronounced upward curve when he signed for Sarries, a club with strong South African connections, in 2009.

He was so elated to sign for the Premiership outfit that he recalls: “As I was driving out ... I screamed a bit and rocked the car a bit, but then I looked up and saw (chief executive) Edward (Griffiths) looking down from his office. I felt very embarrassed!”

Botha’s inspirational message? “I played until a couple of years ago for next to nothing and every time you put a shirt on, be it for club or country, it’s just a proud moment of joy and pure satisfaction. Money doesn’t matter.”

Read more on:    super rugby  |  mouritz botha
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