It’s been more than 30 years since THAT tackle at Loftus, but the names Morne du Plessis and Naas Botha still perfectly sum up why Western Province-Blue Bulls clashes are so special. Saturday’s Currie Cup semifinal at Newlands will be no different.
In 1977, Du Plessis felled the darling of Loftus with a great tackle, perfectly within the laws, but marginally late. The crowd exploded, and the gangly Du Plessis, hated up north at the best of times, had to be escorted off the field by police after the final whistle.
Botha was stretchered off and Pierre Edwards nailed the winning penalty for Northern Transvaal.
‘this rivalry is the one that stirs the blood the most’
It remains one of the most talked-about incidents in the history of South African rugby.
Fast forward to 2009. Du Plessis and Botha are legends of the South African game, but they are still polarised by provincialism.
Du Plessis this week equated WP-Bulls games with Tests between the Springboks and the All Blacks.
“You know, without any disrespect to the other provinces, I just think that, as far as I can remember, it seems to be that this rivalry is the one that stirs the blood the most. It’s almost akin to the Springboks playing the All Blacks.
“There is just something in it that, through the ages, has grown,” said Du Plessis.
Botha couldn’t hold back when he got an opportunity to get a jibe in at the former WP and Springbok captain – but all in a good spirit of course. “That tackle was part of the play, but it cost Western Province a Currie Cup. It didn’t win it for them, it cost them.
“Pierre (Edwards) kicked over the penalty. When they lost there, they were out of the Currie Cup. It was us and Free State in the final.”