Lance Nel has Died at 86
Lance Nel, who came from Port Elizabeth to Stellenbosch and was something of a boy wonder, has died.
Nel had just finished at Hoërskool Cillie and headed to Stellenbosch where he did a B.Com degree. Doc Craven saw in him great potential and at the age of 19 in 1952 he was at flyhalf in the Maties first team and the next year he was the Western Province flyhalf – a player with a clever boot and great eye for a gap. He played for Western Province between 1953 and 1959, a great achievement but even greater things had been ex of him. During his time, Western Province had exceptional flyhalves in Dennis Fry, Brian Pfaff, Dave Stewart and Len Rodrigues.
In 1953, Nel was the flyhalf for the Western Province Universities side that beat the touring Wallabies 24-5, scoring five tries to one.
In 1954, Western Province, captained by Jan Pickard, won the Currie Cup. Nel played in lead-up matches but not in the final when Rodrigues was the flyhalf.
In 1955 Nel played for the Junior Springboks. He was then up in Johannesburg, working for the SABC, and went on a three-match tour with Pa Pelser as their captain and Danie Craven as their manager. Of that team, 11 became Springboks. They beat Natal, Central Universities and Rhodesia.
That year the great B&I Lions were on tour in South Africa, and Nel played flyhalf for the Junior Springboks in Bloemfontein. The Lions won 15-12 on a day when Nel kicked a dropped goal.
He played for Transvaal in 1956 and 1957 before going up to Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe then was, at his brother’s suggestion for whom he played in 1957 before going back down to the Cape. While in Rhodesia he married Marie, who was also originally from Port Elizabeth where they had lived in the same road when growing up.
In 1956 he was one of eight flyhalves to play in the Springbok trials at Newlands for the selection of the Springboks team to tour Australia and New Zealand.
Nel lived in Hermanus where he was a keen member of the Hermanus Golf Club, playing daily after his retirement from Stellenbosch Farmers Winery at the age of 58. Towards the end he suffered health problems, suffering several serious falls.
Lance Nel was born at Addo, the small town near the Elephant National Park, on 10 August 1933 and died on 3 February 2020 in Hermanus, survived by Marie his wife of 62 years, their daughters Ingrid and Louise and four grandchildren. His memorial service will be held at the Hermanus Golf Club on Tuesday, 11 February 2020.