Bakkies smiles after punching
Bakkies Botha (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg – Possibly the best there has ever been.
That was the tribute from businessman Johann Rupert to the Springbok lock pairing of Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield.
He was speaking at a dinner at Emperors Palace on the East Rand where the Blood Brothers testimonial “bonus year” was launched.
The achievements of the Botha-Matfield partnership, that has locked the Springbok scrum for 56 Tests, will be honoured in the next few months for the benefit of child welfare. Beeld are a media sponsor.
The money made from the project will be paid to the Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Centre and the Red Cross Children’s Hospital.
Springbok coach Peter de Villiers and captain John Smit also paid their tributes.
Rupert, who is the chairman of the Blood Brothers Testimonial, said the pair had played a remarkable role in the successes of the Springboks and Bulls in recent years.
“I still find it strange that Victor and Bakkies asked me – a WP supporter – to be chairperson. Do you want to tell me there is no man in the entire Northern Transvaal that cannot look after their money?” Rupert joked.
De Villiers said he considered himself privileged to coach a team in which the two have excelled.
“It’s one thing to see them play, but another to get to know them. They are guys with character and integrity.”
He said the rugby public should appreciate Matfield and Botha while they still could.
The Bok coach, who looked relaxed ahead of the coming Grand Slam tour, entertained guests with stories about Botha.
“I will never forget how I said before a Test against New Zealand that we should hit the All Blacks hard. Bakkies immediately said that he’s in. Brad Thorn (All Black lock) then nearly knocked Bakkies out early in the game.
“My message was to make sure that Bakkies can play on, even if all New Zealand’s water is used. When Botha felt all right to continue playing, he went to ask the referee not to send Thorn off.”
De Villiers added that South African rugby supporters should know that Bakkies had “just punched someone” when he smiles on the field.