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
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