Rugby legend of Hopefield
“He was determined as the best fullback in his time, but the hurt of apartheid deprived him of pulling the Springbok jersey over his head.”
He was a humble man, with a beautiful personality, born with exceptional sporting talents. He also excelled on the cricket field, but it was his rugby talent that set him apart from the rest.
BUT WHO WAS RONNIE LOUW?
Our local sports grounds here at Hopefield are named after him, yet it does not tell everything about Ronnie Louw man. He was a sportsman in bone and marrow: someone who wanted to do more to grow sports in the community. Currently, sport among the town’s youth is a luxury, something that Louw would have tried to change had he still lived today. Because “he was an inspiration to many sportsmen in his hometown.
Ronnie Louw, a son of Oudekraalfontein in Hopefield, thanks to the apartheid era, is totally unknown to the average South African rugby public, despite a remarkable rugby career.
Rugby in the Hopefield area dates back to the early years of the twentieth century. Among the non-white community, specifically, the existence of the Universals Rugby – Football Club can be traced back to the year 1931. This club played its rugby under the auspices of the Western Province League, and secondly, the now-forgotten South African Colored Rugby Football Council (SAFCR).
After 1959, and the founding of the South African Rugby Football Federation, the club joined the local Swartland Union. It was also from this club, the beginning of the Ronnie Louw era on the rugby fields.
His career sounds like a fairy tale because from the last stronghold on the rugby fields Ronnie went from strength to strength. The no.15 experienced a successful debut in the Swartland Rugby Union in the Silver and Gold Cup competition of SAVF.
On 26 June 1976, the brilliant fullback made his debut in the traditional test against the Leopards of the black South African Rugby Association (SANC). The test was played at the Wolfson Stadium in Port Elizabeth. Ronnie Louw was the undisputed star of the game that won the Proteas 17 – 9. On this occasion, Louw contributed at least one try from the fullback position to the final score.
This five-star performance was followed by an equally glorious performance against the mighty All-Blacks team in the ensuing match at the Goodwood Showgrounds in front of a crowd of 8,000 spectators.
A PERSONAL TRAGEDY FOR LOUW
Despite the All-Blacks winning the game 25-3, the Proteas gave a good account of themselves. All match reports also indicate that Louw did a good job. The media referred to the match on a drenched Goodwood as: “unfortunately an ill-tempered affair”.
“The solid performance against the Leopards was directly responsible for Louw then being in an invitational team, the so-called President XV squad, which was selected for the game at Newlands against the All-Blacks”. This match was also significant for another reason, namely that it was the hundredth match for All-Black teams in South Africa.
However, this achievement of Louw was followed by a personal tragedy, only one day after the Protea debut match, when this promising player had to sacrifice his mother to death. Despite the setback, he took his place two days later, delivering an outstanding performance in front of 30,000 people.
Like the previous game, the All-Blacks were the victors with 31-24 but reflects the subsequent record that:
“Ronnie Louw who played so well against the All-Blacks on Goodwood, and who had carved holes in the Leopards in Port Elizabeth, had a great first half, but one inexplicable lapse in his goal area gave the All-Blacks a try in the second half. But clearly, he was a talented player “.
After the first successes at the national and international levels, he gradually strengthened his claim to higher honors. In 1977 he, along with a few other Protea teammates, was invited to the first mixed trials for the selection of the Springbok team at Loftus Versveld. despite their proven
They even got further opportunities to play against visiting teams with experienced international stars such as Surrey (May 1979). An important factor in this regard was the fact that the Western Province League, unlike its Boland counterpart, where Louw played his rugby, among others with the white W.P. competitions were included. This resulted in significantly more exposure, as the competition for Currie Cup and Test status, in particular, played a significant role at this level of competition.
SCHOOLS BOYCOTT DOES NOT STOP CAREER
The year 1980 was a much more difficult year and was particularly marked by the growing spread of anti-apartheid protests throughout South Africa. Even the West Coast where Louw resided was not exempt from this and the Hopefield community was directly affected by the school boycott. In the hustle and bustle, however, Louw continued his rugby career as part of the Proteas team.
The difference this time, however, was the fact that since 1980 the Proteas no longer exist as an ethnic Colored team. As part of the process of moving to non-racialism, or mixed rugby as it was then called, this team would henceforth consist of brown and white players.
As a result, the Proteas team for the game against the visiting British Lions was a mixed team consisting of an equal number of players from both color groups. However, Louw once again managed to keep his place. Despite a plethora of international stars in the Lion team, the Proteas once again accounted for themselves and lost only 15-6 after a fierce battle. The new rugby landscape in which Louw now played was definitely completely different from before.
Although he still managed to impress, it was too late and he, like many others, had to quit his career without having the privilege of representing his country on the international stage as a Springbok.
All thanks to Ronnie Louw history goes to “Hendrik Snyders of Velddrif, who did the research.
ABOVE:- The multi-racial SA Invitation XV playing against 1976 All Blacks, with Morgan Cushe, Ronnie Louw and John Noble looking on as the All Blacks scored a try
BOTTOM; Ronnie Louw has that up in the air feeling during his terrific showing for the Invitation XV at Newlands
Lynn Jaffray of the All Blacks scoring against the Proteas with Ronnie Louw and Clive Noble too late to stop him