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Former Bok skipper reveals his toughest opponent

SPOTLIGHT: Former Springboks skipper Bobby Skinstad has named his hardest man in rugby.


And it’s not the feared Bakkies Botha, the South African second row who sent a shiver down the spine of numerous players around the world during his pomp.

The 47-year-old Skinstad was the guest on episode 230 of Eventful Lives with Dodge Woodall, the founder of the famed Bournemouth 7s Festival which is set to be staged on May 24-26.

The 85-minute podcast interview compellingly covered a myriad of topics, ranging from racism, Nelson Mandela, and whether Siya Kolisi could make a post-playing career in South African politics.

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As the conversation neared the end, Woodall asked Skinstad to name his hardest man in rugby.


It left the former Springboks backrow painfully casting his mind back to the time when he tackled an flyhalf and ended up in Cape Town’s Claremont Hospital. Henry Honiball was the culprit who poleaxed him.

“There are always stories about Bakkies Botha because he was just a big beast of a man and I love him because he lived that persona as well,” began Skinstad.

“I wouldn’t say he is a softie off the field but he did enjoy the physical side of it.

“He would always look for opportunities to hurt someone and then enjoy it afterwards and tell you about it and it would be a fun thing.


“But the hardest man I ever played with or against was a guy called Henry Honiball, who was an Afrikaans guy who played flyhalf for the Sharks and South Africa and his nickname was ‘Lem’ which is Afrikaans for blade which I didn’t do the maths on.

“I did a pick-and-go playing for Western Province and I thought, ‘Okay there is the 10, that’s easy. I have got past the flank. I’ll just drop a shoulder on him and we will either get an offload or we get momentum in attack as long as I got over the advantage line’.

“I dropped my shoulder and he came in to hit between your elbow and your shoulder. I thought, ‘Okay, I got that’. Dropped the shoulder and ended up in the Claremont general hospital from a shoulder-level tackle from a flyhalf.”

Skinstad finished the story by referencing the 1998 win by the Springboks over the All Blacks in Wellington, the first time South Africa had won in New Zealand in 17 years.

“Then I played with him against the All Blacks and they made a circle around him.

“We beat New Zealand in New Zealand and he was man of the match and we just made a circle around him.

“Just looked at him because he couldn’t speak English properly and they weren’t going to venture into Afrikaans.

“For them, it’s a big respect thing if someone has beaten them, so you have Jeff Wilson, Andrew Mehrtens, all these guys around, and they were just like looking at him, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, okay’, a big circle of head nodding and then they just wandered off.”

Source: Rugbypass

  • Click here to listen to Bobby Skinstad on Eventful Lives with Dodge Woodall 

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