Former Springbok loses leg

2010-09-27 23:18

Sarel van der Walt and Retha Grobbelaar

Johannesburg – Legendary former Springbok wing Syd Nomis has had his left leg amputated in Zurich, Switzerland.

Nomis (69), who played in 25 successive Tests for the Boks from 1966-1971, left for Switzerland about two weeks ago to visit his son Gary and his family.

Nomis, who played for Transvaal in 54 games over a period of 11 years from 1963, contracted pneumonia as well as blood clots in his left leg according to family member Barney Girnun.

The leg was amputated above the knee on Sunday night.

Girnun said that Nomis was still in a hospital in Zurich.

He apparently woke up briefly on Monday and said: “I’ve been to hell and back, but nothing gets a Nomis down.”

Girnun said that the family was deeply shocked about what had happened.

“He is our hero.”

Many of the country’s older rugby fans will remember Nomis for the intercept try that he scored in the first Test against Brian Lochore’s All Blacks at Loftus Versfeld in 1970.

It will not be remembered so much as a special try, but rather for legendary commentator Gerhard Viviers’s description: “Die bal kom uit van Lochore, na Cotrell . . . en Syd Nomis onderskep die bal! Siddie! Siddie! Siddie! en hy druk hom . ..”

Nomis admitted later that he was living on in people’s memories thanks to that bit of commentary.

“Till today a lot of people know who I am thanks to Gerhard Viviers,” Nomis told Beeld years ago.

When Viviers wrote a book in 1997, he wrote in a copy to Nomis: “Thanks for making me famous!”

Nomis was a pallbearer with Frik du Preez, Mof Myburgh, Piston van Wyk, Jan Ellis and Piet Uys at Viviers’s funeral in 1998.

Viviers broadcast all 25 Tests in which Nomis played and they were big friends.

Nomis spent hours by Viviers’s side when he was on his death bed.

Nomis, who is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall Of Fame, was knocked out by All Black fullback Fergie McCormick in the second Test at Newlands. He lost some of his teeth in the process.

Viviers considered Nomis and Jannie Engelbrecht as the two best Springbok Test wings.

Nomis is still regularly spotted at Coca-Cola Park in Johannesburg and has been a Lions supporter through thick and thin.

He played for Transvaal with former Springboks Dawie de Villiers, Piet Greyling and TV commentator Hugh Bladen.


  • brian - 2010-09-28 02:34

    alles van die beste

  • John - 2010-09-28 04:39

    Those were the good old days !!! First rugby test series I can remember from childhood.

  • Gavin Fernie - 2010-09-28 04:44

    I had the pleasure and privilege of knowing Sid Nomis in the sixties and seventies when I played rugby for Wanderers RFC in Johannesburg. Not only was Siddy an exceptional player at centre and wing, but an exceptional character. He was friendly, warm and highly entertaining at after game functions. Modest to a fault, Sid was a shining example of how a player with exceptional talent applied himself with dedication and absolute integrity. He was a loyal club member and one of the most passionate Springboks of his era. I remember after moving to Johannesburg from Cape Town, walking into the Wanderers dressing room for the first time in 1966 and not knowing any of the top players; Nomis Micky Gerber, Bladen et al. Sid walked up to me and greeted me warmly and welcomed me to the club. It was indicative of the man who gave so much to his club, his country and his friends. Many of us will wish Siddy a speedy recovery and long life. As he said after his recent setback ' You won't get a Nomis down!.' Best wishes from Gavin Fernie.Lechaim Siddy.

  • Bamba-Zonkie - 2010-09-28 06:15

    Transvaal / Lions are like Rhodesians........they NEVER die..........Hambe Gashle Syd........we always needed a good Jewish boy in the Bokke in order to win........the good old quota system

  • gasguy - 2010-09-28 06:42

    Would be nice to see a pic of him in the 1970 test! Come on reports do some leg work and get some pics of him at his peak how we remember him.

  • ray - 2010-09-28 07:11

    Sorry to hear about Syd Nomis having his leg amputated. I worked with him at Sparham & Ford, Johannesburg in the 60's where he was a sales representative. A great guy.

      hilda.david - 2010-12-12 00:21

      Hope you remember me as well. (david brown0 the scotsman from the 60's Good to know you are still functioning. I left the print trade to work for BP for 25yrs

  • Paulie - 2010-09-28 07:23

    I salute an all-time rugby great. As he has said after the op: "Nothing gets a Nomis down." Thank you Syd, for the memorable moments of greatness you have given us. You - and Gerhard Viviers - will always live in the hearts of South African rugby supporters. I wish you well.

  • Remember Siddie - 2010-09-28 07:29

    Best of luck Siddie we will always remember you....!

  • arthur - 2010-09-28 08:11

    Good Luck Sid...and thanks for those wonderful memories I saw that try...and many others

  • THE VOICE - 2010-09-28 08:27

    Yes ... as a nine yeal old laatie that famous SIDDIE, SIDDIE test at Loftus (July 1970) was my first experience of the magnificent world of BOK rugby also ... sitting there and been simply overwhelmed by the exhiliration!!! Good luck to you SID NOMIS ... the flying Jewish boy who gave us all such enormous pleasure with his swiftness and sheer speed!

  • Doring - 2010-09-28 08:44

    Sidie, Sidie, Sidie! if only we had your type playing today - you were the greatest. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  • WADE - 2010-09-28 09:00

    I thought the "Siddie,Siddie.." test was in Paris v France but my memory may be playing tricks.Get well soon Syd.Once a Lion always a LIon!

  • RUGGER BUGGER - 2010-09-28 09:06

    What a pleasure to read the comments written so far - probably by guys a little older than the usual commentators. I remember listening to the radio commentaries - no tv then - always listened to Gerhard Vivier saying "en hy druk hom..." no one else comes close. Syd Nomis we salute you, and we have not forgotten you. The true spirit of rugby, played for the honor of team & country - with good ethics & integrity - is under attack in so many ways today. All the stake holders need to look back at guys like Syd, and choose to follow their example. We still have a few good men though....

  • Gavin Swanson - 2010-09-28 09:16

    All the very best to you, Syd! You played alongside my late brother, Peter Swanson, in that great era of Wanderers rugby. He always spoke very highly of you! Hope your recovery is as speedy as you were!! Gavin Swanson.

  • Graham Pearson - 2010-09-28 09:47

    I was at Marist Brothers' College, Observatory with Sid in the 50's and a nicer chap you could not meet. He was a phenomenal rugby player but also a great athlete. I wish him a speedy recovery.

  • Johan - 2010-09-28 10:31

    I recall that Fanus Rautenbach, after the "Siddie. Sidie!" comment dryly remarked what would Gerhard Viviers would have said if Piston Van Wyk was the the one who scored the try!

  • Johan - 2010-09-28 10:32

    I recall that Fanus Rautenbach, after the "Siddie. Sidie!" comment dryly remarked what would Gerhard Viviers would have said if Piston Van Wyk was the the one who scored the try!

  • Keith Wawn - 2010-09-28 10:41

    I always remember the intercept try being in the third test at Boet Erasmus stadium in PE, where the Boks won 14-3, taking them into a 2-1 lead in the series. I have a videotape documenting the Springbok/All Black clashes up to 1981, which confirmed this. 1st test at Loftus was won 17-6, 2nd at Newlands lost 8-9 (last minute penalty due to Mannetjies Roux having been adjudged off-side), and we of course won the last one at Ellis Park by 20-17 (an extremely high-scoring match at the time, with SA equaling the highest score scored by each side against the other - 20). I watched Syd play for the Wanderers against Old Hararians, in Salisbury, in 1971, and what a privilege it was! An absolute gentleman and great sportsman. Get well Syd.

  • EUGENE VAN WYK - 2010-09-28 12:48

    Hi Syd. Hoop jy word vinnig gesond. Dankie vir al die plesier wat jy ons op die rugby veld verskaf het!

  • N.Vivier - 2010-09-28 12:51

    Sterkte ou grote!

  • JODY - 2010-09-28 13:08


  • JODY - 2010-09-28 13:09


  • DG NORTIER - 2010-09-28 13:30

    Yes, the same with me I was 9 years old at the time also. The intercept try in the 3rd test and the brutal tackle on Wayne Cottrell by Joggie Jansen in the 1st test which changed Cottrell into a shadow of the player he really was. The other 2 incidents be Nomis losing his front teeth and obviously Piston van Wyk being rucked by NZ. I think that can be counted as the outstanding moments in the series. The 1st series I can remember from childhood is actually the demo tour in which the 'boks showed their worth against the barbarian side, basically a British Lion side, Gareth Edwards carrying Dawie of the field on his shoulders.

  • Anton - 2010-09-28 14:21

    Syd good luck and a speedy recovery. I will always admire you.

  • Caps - 2010-09-28 14:39

    Wishing you and your family all the strength for the coming days!

  • Caps - 2010-09-28 14:41

    Wishing you and your family all the strength for the coming days

  • Jan Ratkas - 2010-09-28 14:48

    Hopeloos te jonk om hom te gesien speel het. Tog 'n naam wat so oorbekend is. Die kommentaar maak my trots om 'n SAner te wees en 'n riem om die hart.

  • Avi & Marion Modlin - 2010-09-28 14:56

    Dear Syd, so sorry to hear, speedy recovery. Missed you at Shul this year. G-d bless. Avi & Marion Modlin

  • wim - 2010-09-28 15:45

    goeie ou dae - 1970 - Loftus - tape die toets met my 1e ou bandopnemertjie, en speel daai 'SIDDIE! SIDDIE!' drie oor en oor en kry elke keer hoendervleis van lekkerte. Pricelesss... Sterkte en spoedige herstel. Shalom mnr Nomis.

  • Lynne Malkoff - 2010-09-28 16:09

    Darling Syd our long life friend, Mom, Rami and the girls all send love to you and wish you a very speedy recovery from Dallas TX. Our love always Lynne Malkoff

  • Glendyr Roberts - 2010-09-28 16:11

    Syd - you have always been my husband's hero and he was delighted to have his picture taken with you last June at Coca-Cola Park after a match (and a drink or two). May your recovery be quick and full. Thanks for the memories of good ol' rugby. God bless you and your family. Glendyr & Kevin Roberts

  • HJS - 2010-09-28 16:54

    It may be many moons ago now, but I remember that test with Syd's try that had Gerhard almost breathless. We may not have had TV in those years but I can still SEE that try clear as daylight after all these years, just from Gerhard's commentary. SYD, wishing you a speedy recovery & I am sure a set back like this will not get you down after all the other "knocks" of life so far.

  • JJ - 2010-09-28 17:34

    You are a legend !!!!!!! Wishing you a speedy recovery .

  • Grant - 2010-09-28 17:36

    I'd love to feature that try on Rugbydump for all to see. If anyone has footage of it please get in touch with the website. Thanks

  • Candice Etberg - 2010-09-28 17:55

    Uncle Siddy, I wish you a healthy and speedy recovery. Your positive energy and your strength that you so exude and possess will get you AND your family through this difficult time. I am thinking of you and sending so much love and light. Love to Annie, Gary, Jo and Rom and the little ones Love you lots, Love Candice x x x

  • mike - 2010-09-28 18:15

    Sid - sorry to learn about your unfortunate situation and wish you everythig of the best. I will always remember, very early on, having to wake you up an our before kickoff when you were an integral part of Old Jeds under 20's and then going overseas then coming home five years later to learn that you were a 'Bok - great stuff. By the way, I also have one of the old long playing records with the second half recording of the 1970 Loftus test. Lastly, I won't forget your kindly sharing your Castles with me at the '97 Maccabiah games when your son was playing for SA. Cheers

  • Clive Noble - 2010-09-28 18:20

    So sorry to read about your illness and subsequent surgery. You were always one tough guy and a pleasure to have had as a patient in those great rugby days.

  • Midge Wilson - 2010-09-28 18:30

    Dear Sid. Just the other day I visited memory lane with photograph’s of you and my late husband Paul Wilson. It was a match in Bloemfontein, South Africa vs. England. I wish you a healthy and speedy recovery. Love to Annie, Gary, Jo & Rom.

  • Paul - 2010-09-28 19:04

    Siddie! Wishing you a speedy made the SA Jewish community proud! Great memories! Dallas TX.

  • Werner - 2010-09-28 19:17

    Syddie I know you will recover from this setback like a true springbok. Thanks for all the brilliant memories. I was at the test on 25 July 1970 when you scored the intercept try. I also saw the crawling try in Paris in 1968 on film. A true legend.

  • Joanne Nomis - 2010-09-28 19:21

    Just to let you all know that I am printing out all of these comments daily and reading them to my Dad . Thank you everyone .

  • Jos - 2010-09-28 19:39

    Syd and Annie wishing you a speedy recovery, always know that myself and my family are here for you and will assist with whatever you need. Thank you for all of your amazingness and for the many Shabbats that I have had at my home away from home in the last 22 years. Annie and a special hug for you. Love and care for you very much. Our thoughts are with you both.

  • Joanne Nomis - 2010-09-28 19:40

    Just to let everyone know that I print out these comments, take them to the hospital and read them all to him. Thank you all so much .

  • Jarred Girnun - 2010-09-28 20:04

    Uncle Siddy my hero, my thoughts and prayers are with you Anne , Jo, Ga and Rom. You are a true role model to us all and my hero. I love you Siddy God bless

  • Elise Lombard - 2010-09-28 20:08

    Hi Sid, I have every confidence that you will bounce back and not let this dampen your wonderful spirit and love for life. Wishing you and your family the very best during these trying times. Blessings, Elise Lombard

  • Midge Wilson - 2010-09-28 20:21

    Dear Sid. Just the other day I visited memory lane with photograph’s of you & my late husband Paul Wilson. It was in Bloemfontein, South Africa vs. England. I wish you a healthy and speedy recovery. Love to Annie, Gary, Jo & Rom.

  • Leon - 2010-09-28 21:36

    Syd, Simeen and I send our best wishes to you for a speedy recovery.You, Anne and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

  • Ruck & Maul - 2010-09-28 22:45

    The only complete autographed Springbok team I have features Syd Nomis (Tvl.) at centre next to Eben Olivier (E.P.). First Test vs. British Lions, 1968. Wings Jannie Engelbrecht (W.P) and Corra Dirksen (N. Tvl.). Piet Visagie (Griquas) and Dawie de Villiers (Boland). No. 15: Rodney Gould (Natal). Get well soon, Mr. Nomis!

  • peter hansen - 2010-09-29 06:31

    I also worked with Syd in the 1960s - a wonderful wing and such a humble, great guy. He will bounce back for sure

  • Avril - 2010-09-29 07:04

    Why are people not commenting on this disease. This affects people everywhere. Perhaps the flight to Switzerland was the final straw. Is amputation really the solution and what is the cure? If there is a Dr or vascular surgeon that has done research on this disease in order to find a cure for this disease rather than just to manage it. My husband is 44 years old and living withthis very painful disease. No apmutations have been done, but he has had 18 bypass operations.