Wed 31 Jan 2018 | 08:59

Clive van Ryneveld dies

Clive van Ryneveld dies
Wed 31 Jan 2018 | 08:59
Clive van Ryneveld dies

Van Ryneveld was a great South African – a sportsman of the highest quality, and much more than that, a man with a social conscience at a time when such a trait was dangerous. He was also the most modest of men – a really good man all round.

Van Ryneveld was at Bishops all his school life and was in many ways regarded as the Bishops ideal – the man of intelligence, action and sympathy. In short he was a good man in every sense.

At Bishops his older brother Tony captained an unbeaten Bishops side in 1943 and Clive captained a Bishops side that lost one match in 1945. 

After a short stint at the University of Cape Town, Van Ryneveld was elected the Bishops a Bishops Rhodes Scholar, one year after his older brother Tony, and off he went to University College, Oxford. In his very first year, the new man won Blues for rugby and cricket. He and Tony played together in two Varsity matches – in 1947 when Cambridge won 6-0 and in 1948 when Oxford won 14-8 and Clive scored two tries. He played centre in those two matches and flyhalf in the third which Oxford won 3-0.

In 1948 the Van Ryneveld brothers were in a combined Oxford and Cambridge side that toured Argentina, beating Argentina 17-0 and 39-0. He also had two seasons playing for the Barbarians and serving on their committee.

On one occasion the Evening Standard referred to him as "one of the outstanding all-round amateur athletes of the day – a second Owen-Smith". (Tuppy Owen-Smith also achieved Blues at cricket and rugby as well as boxing, captained England at rugby and played cricket for South Africa.)

In 1949 Van Ryneveld, an athletic player who passed the ball beautifully, was chosen at centre for England and played in all four Five Nations matches, losing to  Wales and Ireland and beating France and Scotland. He scored two tries against the Scots on the day after his 21st birthday.

His South African rugby career was brief. He joined Villagers for which his Tony was a No.8 but against Stellenbosch  he was so injured in a tackle that he never played rugby again – a great loss to the game.

In South Africa his great success was at cricket. The nephew of the Springbok cricketer, Jimmy Blanckenberg, he captained the SA Schools XI in 1945 and played for Western Province senior team while still at school, scoring 90 not out against Rhodesia. He was an all-rounder – an elegant batsman, a leg spinner and an excellent fielder. He toured England with the South African cricket team in 1951, the start of a 19-Test career, which included captaining South Africa in two series – against Australia and England. In Tests, he scored 724 runs and took 17 wickets.

There were other strings to his sporting bow – Western Province Junior Tennis Champion and a record-setting hurdler.

When Van Ryneveld was at school he was a member of the Bishops Social Welfare Society and the Silvertree Club which organised sporting contacts with District Six boys and he was the chairman of the Bishops night school where boys helped adults to improve themselves. This continued to his adult life as the young lawyer became a United Party member of parliament for East London. But in 1959 he and eleven other United Party members of parliament broke away from the party to form the Progressive Party, seeking to change South Africa from its apartheid restrictions. In the 1961 elections eleven of those lost their parliamentary seats, leaving only the brave Helen Susman to carry the flag.

As a lawyer, he was able to help many people excluded by apartheid, including sportsmen whom he helped to get contracts to play overseas. The most notable amongst them was Basil D'Oliviera who played great cricket for England.

In 2011, Van Ryneveld's memoirs, 20th Century All-rounder: Reminiscences and Reflections of Clive van Ryneveld, were published.

Clive Berrange van Ryneveld was the son of Clive van Ryneveld d a Springbok halfback in two Tests in 1910 against the tourists from the UK and Ireland. Son Clive was born in Cape Town on 19 March 1928. He died in Cape Town on 29 January, 2018, survived by his wife Verity, their two sons and their daughter.

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