Twenty-five greats of the game whose careers spanned three centuries have been inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame. The list include five Springbok legends, namely Naas Botha, Danie Gerber, Hennie Muller, Morné du Plessis and Joost van der Westhuizen.
Danie Gerber (born 14 April 1958 in Port Elizabeth) played for South Africa between 1980 and 1992. Playing mainly at centre, he won only 24 caps for South Africa despite playing internationally for 12 years because of South Africa’s sporting isolation caused by apartheid. He played 115 games for Eastern Province, 40 for Western Province and 24 for Free State in South African domestic rugby. In 2007 he was induced into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.
Gerber’s first international was against the South American Jaguars in 1980, where Gerber scored a try. He played another two matches that year, and in 1981 played Ireland twice before touring to New Zealand. He played all three Tests against the All Blacks on the 1981 Springbok Tour, and a Test in the United States following the tour. As well as playing against the Jaguars four times over the next two years, he also starred in the 1984 England tour to South Africa. Gerber played outside South Africa’s first ever Black player, Errol Tobias, in the series, and scored three tries in the second Test.
Gerber was named in both International Rugby Hall of Fame member’s Martin Johnson and Bill McLaren’s all time XV.
Danie Gerber was the greatest centre to ever represent the Springboks. Isolation prevented the world from seeing the great man in action. This is a trailer of a documentary that was produced in 1995 and it gives you a sneak peek into the life of a rugby legend.
Who can ever forget Gerber’s Thunderous Thighs powering their way through defender after defender on the Boet Erasmus pitch in Port Elizabeth?
In 1985 Danie Gerber captained his home team of Despatch to victory when they played in the final of the Toyota Club Championships at Kings Park, Durban. Playing against a Tukkies team consisting mainly of Northern Transvaal Provincial players (10 in all) Gerber and his men took the cup.
Daniel Mattheus Gerber is the 117th inductee and one of 25 legends inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame at Wembley Stadium, London, on 20 September, 2015.
South Africa’s sporting isolation deprived many rugby fans of the chance to marvel at the skills of one of the game’s most gifted centres. Exceptional in attack, Danie Gerber used his searing pace and immense power to score some superb tries, 19 in total from 24 international appearances. At his best he was almost unstoppable, as England found out to their cost when he ran in a hat-trick of tries against them at Ellis Park in 1984 – his first and only test at his hometown ground.
Gerber played an integral role in the Springboks’ 3-1 series win against New Zealand Cavaliers – the All Blacks in all but name – finishing off a wonderful try in the third test at Loftus Versveld. In August 1992, Gerber scored twice in the match against the All Blacks which marked the official return of South Africa to the test arena, and in October that year he scored tries in both away tests against France. His swansong came against England at Twickenham a few weeks later, aged 34.
The Barbarians provided an alternative outlet for Gerber to demonstrate his magic abroad. He scored two tries against Scotland in his third and final appearance in the black and white hooped jersey at Murrayfield in March 1983, having earlier played against Cardiff and Swansea on the traditional Easter tour.
Players from seven different countries and a wide array of backgrounds were honoured at a special presentation in the Spirit of Rugby lounge at Wembley Stadium ahead of the eagerly-awaited RWC 2015 Pool C match between New Zealand and Argentina.
From pioneering 19th century Welsh tactician Gwyn Nichols to Rugby World Cup winners in Australian centre Tim Horan and South African scrum-half Van der Westhuizen, the latest induction list reads like a ‘who’s who’ of rugby.
Eighteen captains of their country are included, Irishman Fergus Slattery and Mervyn Davies just two of the names that ‘The voice of rugby’ Bill McLaren, the only non-international to feature in the latest round of inductions, once reeled off in his unforgettable BBC commentaries.
Twice-capped coaching guru Carwyn James is one of seven Welshmen to be inducted, while South Africa have five representatives, England, Ireland and Scotland three apiece and a pair of Frenchman and Australians make up the 25-strong group.
The inductees or family members of those who are deceased all received framed caps from World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset and Chief Executive Brett Gosper.
Lapasset said: “The World Rugby Hall of Fame recognises those who have made an indelible mark on our sport through feats on the field of play, displays of great character or through their tireless and inspirational work in driving forward our great game.
“The latest set of inductions includes some real legends, players who have helped to shape the image of rugby and inspire generations of fans. They are truly some of the biggest names in our sport over the past 100 years or so and all have contributed immensely to the enjoyment we have all felt watching top-level rugby over the decades. Each of these 25 inductees has made a positive impression on the sport that will last the test of time.”
Chris Rea and Pablo Mamone, who form the World Rugby Hall of Fame panel along with Henri Garcia, Nigel Starmer-Smith and secretary Chris Thau, were also in attendance.
The full list of inductees into the World Rugby Hall of Fame (in alphabetical order) is:
Phil Bennett (Wales), Naas Botha (South Africa), Gordon Brown (Scotland), Marcel Communeau (France), Gerald Davies (Wales), Mervyn Davies (Wales), Danie Gerber (South Africa), Tim Horan (Australia), Andy Irvine (Scotland), Carwyn James (Wales), Barry John (Wales), Tom Kiernan (Ireland), Gwyn Nicholls (Wales), Basil Maclear (Ireland), Bill McLaren (Scotland), Edgar Mobbs (England), Hennie Muller (South Africa), Morné du Plessis (South Africa), Ronald Poulton-Palmer (England), Tom Richards (Australia), Jean-Pierre Rives (France), Fergus Slattery (Ireland), Wavell Wakefield (England), Joost van der Westhuizen (South Africa) and John Lewis Williams (Wales).
For more information on the Hall of Fame visit, www.worldrugby.org/halloffame.
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