Botha ‘too light’ for Stormers

2012-02-09 11:36

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.”


  • Kim - 2012-02-09 11:43


      Bokfan - 2012-02-09 13:01

      Huge achievement. Bigups

      Annelise - 2012-02-09 16:27

      If he was born in the Free State (Vryheid), why did he not try out for the Cheetahs? Why try the Stormers?

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-02-09 17:19

      Annelise, Vryheid is in Northern KZN? Or is there another one in the OFS? So he should have tried the Sharks if I'm correct?

      Martin - 2012-02-09 19:05

      Give that man a Bells!!! Quintin Daniels of een of ander AA 'special' het hom seker uit die WP span gehou...

      Pierre - 2012-02-10 10:11

      South Africa has to much talent and then waste the many players we have.

      Robin - 2012-02-10 10:52

      @Martin... Quinton Davids.. you ass!! Anyway.. Big ups to Mouritz!!

      Martin - 2012-02-10 11:05

      Robin, thanks, you must have been a big fan of Quinton to remember him so well!

  • Hugh - 2012-02-09 11:45

    Maybe the reason there are no silver things in the closet? No eye for potential? Just asking...

      Staal - 2012-02-09 12:06

      Oh rubbish. The domestic comps in SA employ fewer players and pay less. Some players are late bloomers. He had to play for no-name teams for 5 years before he got to Saracens! Are you saying the Stormers should've carried him for all that time? Absolute rubbish. Well done to him, he stuck at it and succeeded but you cannot say SA franchises should've spotted him. If he had stayed in SA and stuck at it he might also have eventually have made it but lets face it he knew, and still knows, he wouldn't make the Bok team.

      Inky - 2012-02-09 12:23

      Reminds me of Kevin Pieterson. KZN said he was not good enough (as a disguise for racial selection ) and today he is one of the top batsmen in the world.

      Hugh - 2012-02-09 12:50

      Ink, just what I was asking, Staal, theres a knot in your nikkers.

      Jason - 2012-02-09 13:00

      @Staal - u are probably right about how he evolved but i think it very interesting that sa players seem to harden an blossom when playing in either france or the uk

      John - 2012-02-09 14:42

      Pricks like you and your band of merry men on this site always amuse me. Why don't you ask the WPRU why they do not dish out contracts to at least 2000 players from the junior ranks every year in case one of them go play overseas??

      Nico - 2012-02-09 15:46

      @Staal, maybe with the right coaching he would not have been a late-bloomer, e.g. Josh Strauss, who was also not good enough for province, but is now a shining star at the Lions, or Schalk Brits, who had to go to jhb to learn to play rugby before province bought him back at a premium, to name but 2 examples.

      cheryl.kristiansen - 2012-02-09 16:09

      @Inky. He was actually trying to get into the team as a spinner, not a batsman. Anyway, i'd rather he played for England; don't like the man, the English can have him. Been out of sorts for a looong while now.

      Inky - 2012-02-09 17:10

      @ Cheryl_kristiansen. Your info is incorrect and based on the regurgitated pub talk. He was refused a contract due to skin colour and had nothing to do with his ability. Perhaps you should read his book and take note of the facts which have never been challenged by CSA or the KZN Cricket body. You should also research his statistics and recognise that just because he is currently out of form, his class is undeniable. Regarding you not liking him, I am sure he will not lose any sleep about that!

      Staal - 2012-02-09 20:09

      Jeez guys, I am definitely not implying that some players do not leave out of frustration or fear that they will be discriminated against. Or that it is not a valid concern for them. This is especially the case with guys who do not shape up early on. It is inevitable that we cannot keep all our fringe players when there are richer competitions elsewhere. Botha is still not a shoe in for the Bok team. So in that respect the coaches were right that he was not a guaranteed international.

      Staal - 2012-02-09 20:11

      As for Josh, well this happens all over the world. Guys move and improve. Talent identification is not an exact science and Josh DID get a chance somewhere. So that case ended pretty well I would say.

      Staal - 2012-02-09 20:14

      Lastly I will say the WC has a problem with talent identification but we shouldnt make it a country wide problem. Reading through all this again I think maybe my point was a bit unclear. Yes, the Stormers have problems when it comes to keeping talent. But that is a separate issue to guys playing and performing well overseas.

      Eduard - 2012-02-10 07:14

      Agree, SA miss a lot of potential...because we have a saying..."I am not very clever, but I can lift heavy things" and then...what do we get.....a muscle team with no brains.....very common in SA Rugby and then they also talk about "the game plan". Now that is rubbish Staal

      Staal - 2012-02-10 12:43

      Not sure what you mean... are you saying Mouritz is a more intelligent player than the players in the Bok team?

  • marcus.daily3 - 2012-02-09 11:46

    Played well against Scotland, took them to the cleaners during line out time.

      Hugh - 2012-02-09 12:52

      Scotland was all over them like a rash. Pity they couldnt hold on the ball. Gives me some hope on our Eng Tour.

      Jason - 2012-02-09 13:01

      Scotland had the English taped but couldnt finish.

      GrootWitHaai - 2012-02-10 09:38

      There is a Zimbabwean playing for the Scots. He had a brilliant game. Flanker....he kept the English very busy.

  • Mielie - 2012-02-09 11:47

    Nou het ek alles gehoor. Die Stormers het 'n MIELIE van 'n man laat gaan. Wanneer gaan julle visvoete verstaan waaroor rugby gaan? Julle verloor jaarliks top spelers omdat julle net belangstel in modepoppe wat vir die paviljoen speel maar wanneer dinge warm in die uitklopfase vou julle soos 'n pak goedkoop kaarte. Hou dit so a.s.b dan gaan julle rekord later die jaar wees 20 Supers geen titel nie, 15 Vodacoms geen titel nie, 11 Curries in 'n ry geen titel nie.

      Mielie - 2012-02-09 11:52

      Mooi gestel MIELIE. Jy is seker 'n Transvaler in murg en been. Hiermee bedoel ek 'n Transvaler en 'n Noord Transvaler. Miskien moet die WP/Stormers in die Engelse liga inskryf. Dit is ook bra nat en winderig daar. O ja hulle sal daar ook verloor want daar is te veel Transvalers wat vir SARACENS speel

      Clive - 2012-02-09 14:12

      @Mielie. Modepoppe soos Meisiekink miskien?? Vra maar net.

      Clive - 2012-02-09 14:13

      Skuus. Meisiekind.

  • Nico - 2012-02-09 11:51

    Continuing the cape tradition of excellent talent spotters :) NOT!!!

      Koos - 2012-02-09 12:44

      hulle kannie eers die currie cup spot nie!

      robert.m.sylvester - 2012-02-09 12:55

      what talent?.........

      Nico - 2012-02-09 13:30

      @Koos, hahahahaha, miskien moet ons vir hulle 'n foto stuur van die CC dat hulle kan onthou hoe dit lyk :)

  • Brannas - 2012-02-09 11:54

    Yeah, normal stormer behaviour, Get rid of young promising players and use the old burnt out has beens, no hope for the stormers. the laughing stock of SA rugby.

      Bulldozer - 2012-02-09 12:05

      Laughing stock of world rugby.

      Ross - 2012-02-09 12:07

      So he should have been on the Stormer payroll for 10 odd years, and the make it big time? Would be a waste of money. He only signed 2009 with Saracens.....that is 10 years after martic. Waste of money - and late bloomer. Nobody would have seen that. It took him 7 years at English club rugby.

      Saffa - 2012-02-09 12:13

      So the Stormers team are the laughing stock of world rugby.........whilst the Bulls fans are the laughing stock of the WORLD full stop. As they say: Every time a tv camera scans the crowd at Loftus, South Africa loses 6 foreign investors.......

      Brannas - 2012-02-09 12:25

      Saffa, Seriously.That line is so old it’s growing beard already, come with something new and original please. Uuuurgh puke.

      Saffa - 2012-02-09 12:30

      @Brannas - maybe you can help me with a few of those "googled one liners" you keep throwing out?

      Bulldozer - 2012-02-09 12:43

      Daai ou grappie is nou al so afgesaag soos die Stormers/WP supporters se voorspellings elke jaar.

      Brannas - 2012-02-09 12:45

      No worries gal, I wil inbox a couple to you.

      Bootman - 2012-02-09 14:04

      Saffa are you trying to say that Bulls fans are worse for our economy than cheap chinese imports?

      Clive - 2012-02-09 14:14

      @Saffa. Boy, ain't that the truth! Those supporters are something else! Aliens??

      Bulldozer - 2012-02-09 14:21

      Clive, Saffa is n meisie. Idioot.

      stefan.vanderspuy - 2012-02-09 14:49

      What's wrong with 105 kg? Give me a fit and agile lock weighing 105kg rather than a 125kg slouch.

      Bambie - 2012-02-09 17:24

      Bull...hierdie ouens wat Stormers supporter is... Ja wat kan ons se... soos Gatiep wat in die hof verskyn: Landros: "Gatiep waar is jy gebore?" Gatiep: " In die Kaap Jou Honor" Landros: "Watter deel?" Gatiep: " My hele lyf Jou Honor, net die tanne kom uit Joburg"

      Grant - 2012-02-09 19:10

      Saffa and Clive,what do the bulls supporters get up to that is so bad?

  • Walter - 2012-02-09 11:56

    Perhaps the Stormers was right. Question is: Would he have been willing to do the same in Cape Town / South Africa. The carpet cleaning probably made him into that which the Stormers did not see in him. Note that he also did not just walk into big teams in England. Many players want to walk into the regional teams or else they take off. Then they go work hard and bite the bullet overseas. Question: Why are they not willing to do so here? Still he needs praise and deserves respect. Well Done Mauritz. There is a place in the sun for every one.

      Philip - 2012-02-09 12:05

      Good point!

      Hugh - 2012-02-09 12:59

      Maybe, just maybe if the WP development dept actually focused on developing potential, we could find grow these guys. Not really sure how advanced that is out in the Provinces. Only really see whats happening in Sharks and Bulletjies rugby so I'm opening myself to some abuse here..

  • Stephen - 2012-02-09 12:13

    Botha was 105kg then and now weighs in at 115kg. He's bulked up considerably since his Stormers days so he's not the same player than when he was rejected by the Stormers management. Anyway, will be good to see him play against the Boks in June. Still not sure who will fill the no. 4 boots for SA

  • nicog1 - 2012-02-09 12:46

    Shows what hard work and dedication will get you! shame on WP!

  • Yannick - 2012-02-09 12:51

    The Rugby Conglomerate in SA rugby should stop you were most probably overlooked because you weren't from Grey Col or paarl or some like that. but there is many SA players that can most probably play international rugby at top level overseas. but ill give it to him for the perseverance and self belief not many can last that long on a rugby dream.

  • John - 2012-02-09 13:17

    'too light'? colour or weight? :D

  • Sportmal - 2012-02-09 13:22

    Great on you Mouritz, fantastic example of how to get where you want to be through hard work. Respect for what he has achieved. Although I saw him play a couple of games when he was still at u21 level for NTK Parow and he never looked anything special, I don't think this is a good example of how WP Rugby has lost a lot of talent over the years, because let's be honest, they have lost a lot! He has had to work for more than a decade to where he is now, that is not exactly what I would call talent spotting. Again, fantastic achievement!

  • Bootman - 2012-02-09 14:12

    I can just see the WP bosses going "This guy sucks right now, but lets give him a ten year contract just in case he amounts to something. Well done Mouritz. You made it through hard work and enjoy it and dont badmouth your country of birth like some others.

  • Jenny - 2012-02-09 14:44

    I dont see why it comes as such a suprise? WP have never been able to spot talent, waste of an article in my opinion.

  • Clive - 2012-02-09 14:51

    Well done never let anyone tell you you arn't good enough, self believe and hard work is always the answer to show them up.

  • Peter - 2012-02-09 15:46

    SA produces lots of talent, but it does take the right connections to get to the top. Sometimes the players own character prevents his success, but sometimes it's the bureaucracy.

      Pete - 2012-02-09 18:36

      HI Peter You're right there You can be the best actor on the stage, but if the spotlight doesn't light you up nobody sees you, I was involved in another sport and never got anywhere, a year after playing overseas at club level my future opened up, and I played here the same as over there Pete

  • Dawie - 2012-02-09 15:50

    And now the idiodts sit with Parkiebank and whoever else is not injured STORMERS=JOKERS OF WORLD RUGBY

      Riaan - 2012-02-10 00:02

      Dawie, go to school much? Praat liewer Afrikaans ou, jy gee jou IK weg.

  • Francois - 2012-02-09 16:27

    Give the man a bells!

  • jandreleroux - 2012-02-09 18:51

    I hope that this was not Rassie's decision! He is after all going to help with the Boks!

  • Shaun - 2012-02-09 20:34

    Well done and i am happy for him, but unfortunately it might not just be his weight which precluded him from playing Super Rugby. As well as he is playing in the Northern Hemisphere i'm sure Western Province would still pick Eben Etszabeth (excuse the spelling if incorporeal) ahead of him, international cap or not. Add to that list every other lock on the Stormers' payroll as well unfortunately. He made a great decision to go to England because he never would've gotten anywhere near the Springboks and test match rugby in the country of his birth. Every player (cricket and rugby) who leaves and makes a name for himself elsewhere always give off the impression that had they had been treated unfairly, never that they just weren't good enough.

  • Shaun - 2012-02-09 20:36

    Sorry about the grammar above, but you get my point.

  • Kokkie - 2012-02-09 22:39

    Welgedaan, ou Grote. Dinamiet kom soms in kleiner pakkies !

  • Fidel - 2012-02-09 22:46

    Well done, unfortunately the competition is tough in SA and the talent pool probably bigger than that of the UK, surpassed by only Australia. Ask the kolpak players,

  • Stephan - 2012-02-10 09:04

    Wat het ek vir jou gese paar weke gelede my maat???? Wys al die GROOT poepholle in die WP Unie maat. Dis nie wie jy is in die WP, dis wie jy ken...Get ride of old fart Wagner and all the old school teachers in Province management.,

  • richard.barnard2 - 2012-02-10 12:14

    Great story of truimph! Sorry Stomers....

  • Pieter - 2012-02-10 12:39

    Since when do players use Western Province as a barometer to become or contracted as rugby player,This province is the last resort to turn to,let me rephrase myself ,if you want to retire from rugby you move down to WP.The WPRU did the right thing not to contracted Botha,at that stage he was to young.You go Botha.

  • sfrancoisdevries - 2012-02-10 14:38

    Matfield was 107kg. So what was the problem?

      Hoo - 2012-02-11 11:45


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