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Bok Father's Day

In celebrating Father’s Day, rugby365 look at fathers and sons who have represented the Springboks.

Nine sets of fathers and sons have played for South Africa, the two most recent being Flippie and Flip van der Merwe and Hennie and Andries Bekker.

Lock Hennie and prop Flippie were part of the Springbok team who toured New Zealand and played the All Blacks in 1981.

Hennie won his only two Test caps on the tour, scoring a try on debut in the 9-14 loss in Christchurch before making his final appearance in the 22-25 defeat in Auckland. In 1983, he was named the South African Player of the Year.

At 196cm and 133kg, Flippie remains one of the biggest props in Springbok history. He played six Tests, four of which the Springboks won, in a nine-year Test career.

Andries, at a towering 2.08m and 121kg, holds the distinction as the tallest ever Springbok. He made his Bok bow against Wales in Bloemfontein in 2008, scored his only Test try to date in the 53-8 win over the Wallabies later that year and made his 29th and most recent appearance against the All Blacks in Johannesburg last October.  

Flip, who debuted against France in Cape Town in 2010, scored his only five-pointer of his Test career thus far in his second outing against Italy and won his 25th cap in Saturday’s 30-17 win over Scotland.


Schalk Burger followed in his father Schalk Burger Snr’s footsteps when he burst on to the international stage as a 20-year-old at the 2003 World Cup. He has since become a Springbok legend and is the most-capped flank in Springbok history, having played 66 of his 68 Tests at the side of the scrum.

He’s a former IRB World Player of the Year (2004), a two-time South African Player of the Year (2004 and 2011), a World Cup winner (2007), British and Irish Lions series winner (2009), a two-time Tri-Nations winner and holds the record for most tries in Tests as a Springbok flank (11) along with Juan Smith.

Schalk Snr played in the Springbok second row from 1984-1986, making six appearances, with the 18-19 loss to the New Zealand Cavaliers his only defeat in the Green and Gold.

The versatile Ruan Pienaar made his Springbok debut against the All Blacks in Pretoria in 2006 and won his 64th Test against the Scots at the weekend. He too, is a World Cup (2007) and British and Irish Lions series (2009) winner.

His father, Gysie Pienaar, played 13 Tests for the Boks at fullback in 1980 and 1981 after being named the South African Player of the Year in 1980.

Flank Wikus van Heerden played 14 Tests for the Boks, scoring his solitary Test try in the 17-25 loss to the Wallabies in Sydney in 2006, and finished his Test career on the ultimate high after coming off the bench and helping South Africa to a 15-6 win over England in the 2007 World Cup Final in Paris.

His father, Moaner van Heerden, was one of the great characters and hard men of Springbok rugby. He played 17 Tests and scored one try from 1974-1980 and was acknowledged as the South African Player of the Year in 1977.

Hailed by Doc Craven as a “genius”, uncompromising hooker Uli Schmidt was another great of South African rugby. Schmidt, a doctor, was a back-to-back winner of the South African Player of the Year award (1990 and 1991) and won 17 Test caps from 1986-1994.

His father, Louis Schmidt, played flank and made his Bok debut against France in Johannesburg in 1958. He would have to wait nearly four years to make his second and final Test appearance in the 3-0 win over the British Isles in Durban.

Felix and Morné du Plessis are to date the only father and son combination to captain the Springboks. Lock Felix captained South Africa in three Tests against the All Blacks in 1949 and 37 years later, loose forward Morné led the Boks to a series triumph over the New Zealanders. He played 22 Tests in all and captained South Africa on 15 occasions.

At 29, Derek van den Berg ensured that he and his father Mauritz van den Berg became only the second father and son duo to represent the Springboks when he scrummed down at prop in the first of his four Tests against France in Bloemfontein in 1975. Lock Mauritz also played in four Tests, his debut coming against Australia in Sydney in 1937.

The trail blazers were Alf and Harry Walker, both known for their immense strength. Doc Craven described Alf, who played six Tests (two at flank and four at lock) from 1921-1924, as “a man not to be trifled with.”

History was made on September 19, 1953 when 25-year-old loosehead Harry made his Test debut against the Wallabies in Durban and thereby etched his and his father Alf’s names in the annals of South African rugby as the first ever father and son combination to play for the Springboks.


Duos deserved of a special mention are CB and Mike Jennings and Wynand and Antonie Claassen. Prop CB made his Bok debut in 1939 and while No.8 Mike played in 10 tour matches in 1969-1970, he did not play in a Test.

No.8 Wynand captained the Boks in seven Tests in 1981 and 1982 while loose forward Antonie made his debut for France in the Six Nations clash against England in February.

Springbok fathers-sons (debut):

Alf Walker (1921) and Harry Walker (1953)

Mauritz van den Berg (1937) and Derek van den Berg (1975)

Felix du Plessis (1949) and Morné du Plessis (1971)

Louis Schmidt (1958) and Uli Schmidt (1986)

Moaner van Heerden (1974) and Wikus van Heerden (2003)

Gysie Pienaar (1980) and Ruan Pienaar (2006)

Schalk Burger snr (1984) and Schalk Burger jnr (2003)

Hennie Bekker (1981) and Andries Bekker (2008)

Flippie van der Merwe (1981) and Flip van der Merwe (2010)


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