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Some great Boy Louw stories

SPOTLIGHT: Acclaimed @rugby365com writer Paul Dobson regale us with tales of Western Province and Springbok legend Boy Louw.


Nobody played rugby with a greater devotion to the game than Boy Louw. Nobody had a greater love for Western Province than Boy Louw. Nobody had a greater pride in being a Springbok than Boy Louw. And nobody produced more amusing rugby stories than Boy Louw.

We have here a sample of those stories. Everybody who knew the great man would be able to add to them. And do not make the mistake of thinking that they were the accidental creations of a dumb cluck. Oom Boy was a clever man with a great sense of fun and the amusing things he did and said were done deliberately.

I am well and truly old now but being old gave me a chance to meet and listen to Springboks of yesteryear going back to 1921. It has been something that has greatly enriched my life. It is something that I can recommend to anybody, for just being in the presence of great men from the past is somehow golden.

Oom Boy, sometimes called the Master, was born on 21 February 1906, one of 14 children (10 boys and four girls) on a farm near Wellington in the Cape. He went to Paarl Boys’ High, played for Paarl and was a bank manager in Paarl. He played for Western Province from 1924 to 1938 and played for South Africa from 1928 to 1938. His 18 Springbok caps was a record when he retired. He had been on two Springbok tours – 1931-32 and 1937. He played in every position in the scrum but was perhaps best at prop – a big, powerful, fearless but fearsome man.

Oom Boy was from a rugby family. Uncle Japie had played for Transvaal and South Africa and cousin Cyril had captained Transvaal. Brother Fanie played for Western Province, Transvaal and South Africa. Brother PK played for Western Province, Jan for Rhodesia, Japie and Elinor for Transvaal.

Playing days, over Oom Boy coached – Paarl, the University of Cape Town, Western Province and, on the 1961-62 tour, South Africa. He was national and provincial selector, and the manger of Western Province.


He was also the first man to referee a Currie Cup final – at Newlands, when Western Province played Transvaal in 1939. His brother Fanie captained Transvaal who won the match.

Those were amateur days. Nothing Oom Boy did for rugby earned him money. It was just what he loved doing. Working for the bank gave Boy the money he needed for wife Christina and their two children.

This is by way of an inadequate introduction to Boy Louw whose involvement in rugby was probably more wholehearted than anybody else’s. It is by way of an introduction to some Boy Louw stories to be followed by stories involving other players, and …..

AND, wouldn’t it be great if readers added to the stories from around the rugby world?


A lot of Boy Louw stories depend on the way that he said them, and the way he said them was calculated. Boy Louw made mirth but was not an object of derision.

Boy was in body and soul South African and so his stones have a South African way of speaking. For one thing he had a habit – all his own creation, I think – of adding a meaningless s to verbs. So look becomes looks for no reason, take becomes takes, don’t becomes doesn’t. And those three will give us his first three stories.

If the side that Oom Boy was coaching had just scraped home and somebody told him sourly that they were lucky, Oom Boy had a standard reply: “Oh so. Looks at the scoreboard.”

It is till a common saying in South African rugby.

On tour in England he went into a store to buy a cake of soap. The perky assistant asked him: “Do you want it scented?”

To which Oom Boy enjoyed saying: “No, I’ll just takes it with me.”

Western Province played Free State in Bloemfontein. Oom Boy was the Province manager and I was sent up as a referee. There was confusion in my booking and I was down to share a room with Jannie Krige, the Province vice-president, who was having none of it and I went off to sleep on Gerrit Coetzer’s couch.

Province lost but after the match Oom Boy came to me and said: “Ou Paul, I hears you have troubles with your bed. Comes to my room. I’ve got two beds and I doesn’t snores.”

We’ll have some more Boy Louw stories tomorrow.

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