Jan EllisThe South African Rugby Union on Friday expressed its deep sadness at the passing of legendary former Springbok looseforward, Jan Ellis.

The one-time joint record holder for the number of Springbok caps succumbed to cancer at a hospice in Pretoria after suffering from the disease for some time. He celebrated his 71st birthday in January.

Jan Ellis ranks as an all-time Springbok great and one of the outstanding loose forwards of his era. He played in 38 of the 39 Tests that the Springboks played between his debut in 1965 and his final test in 1976. Had he played in the professional era his 12-season career would have resulted in a century of Test appearances.

“Our condolences go to Jan’s family and his friends,” said Mr Oregan Hoskins, president of the South African Rugby Union. “Jan Ellis was one of the greatest Springbok loose forwards of any era. He was one of those unbelievably tough Springbok forwards for which our country is renowned.

“He was a fixture in the Springbok team for more than a decade and will be fondly remembered by the older generation.”

Ellis was born in Brakpan but moved to South West Africa (what is now known as Namibia) as a child.

He went to school in in the sheep and cattle farming town of Gobabis and, as a raw-boned, red-headed youngster, won selection for South West Africa and earned a place at Springbok trials having played at lock against the 1964 British & Irish Lions.

He earned his first cap on the Springbok tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1965, making his Test debut in the first of four Tests against New Zealand in Wellington at the age of 22. He was not to lose his starting place until his 34th year.

He was an obsessive trainer and his speed and fitness led him to score seven Test tries and a phenomenal 32 in the 74 appearances he made in all Springbok matches. He made his final appearance in a 16-7 win over the 1976 All Blacks in Durban, equalling Frik du Preez’s record of 38 Springbok Test appearances.

Ellis was shot in an armed robbery in Pretoria in December 2000, since when his health had suffered.

He is survived by his wife Heila, a son and daughter and five grandchildren – one of whose weddings he attended on Saturday.


Jan Ellis by Doc Craven
Jan Ellis in many respects, was a marvel. He made his reputation in South West Africa, well away from the main centres of recognised rugby and it took a great deal of determination as well as talent to rise to the top.Only a very gifted player could do that because you only play as well as your company allows. The company you play in tends to restrict you – and with respect, he was not playing in the best of company when he represented South West Africa.Yet he became a Springbok and he remained a Bok for a long time. Jan also had a difficult temperament, because he was an artist, and this did not always help him.

But he gave South Africa wonderful service in his many years of test rugby, 11 years in all. It takes a great player to play at international level for so long while out of the recognised mainstream.

41 Responses to Springbok legend Jan Ellis dies

  • 1

    Wow, the original hardman No 7 Flanker of the Springboks… he inspired youngsters to play flank… and between him and Piet Greyling.. and a bit later Thys Lourens, made me decide to play flanker.

    Rest in Peace Jan Ellis, the man with the monster hands, who carried the ball so easily with one hand.

    I believe he had an Auctioneering business (Vendusie) near Rayton or somewhere on the way to Cullinan from Pretoria, and was a difficult man to deal with in business… but he was a rugby man and rugby legend.

  • 2

    SAD News, i first this saw this news on FB in a post by Norman. Eish the big trees of MY era is falling now. I will always admire him , he was a true GREAT. I remember him as a kid.

    Potgietersrus , my home town was the Far North Club champion team and we invited Kempton Park , in those days the Transvaal Club champs to play a pre season game in Potties(Potgietersrus, now Mokopane) He was devastating , and toyed with us, running in his own style, ball in one hand on his way to his 3rd try and not looking ran into the uprights and spilled the ball , big joke hey. But we paid a heavy price for laughing , he scored 3 tries that day. A massive hiding for the Tabakboere.

  • 3

    Johannesburg – The SA Rugby Union (Saru) has confirmed the death on Friday of former Springbok loose forward Jan Ellis.

    The one-time joint record holder for the number of Springbok caps died of cancer aged 71 at a hospice in Pretoria.

  • 4

    Ellis was born in Brakpan, but moved to the then South West Africa (Namibia) as a child, and attended school in the sheep and cattle farming town of Gobabis.

  • 5

    4 @ superBul:
    No wonder he was tuff and rough and ready… he was born in Brakpan… hehehehe

    … and then went and got even more rough and ready on the farms in South West Africa.

  • 6

    @ grootblousmile:
    I posted his birthplace just for you. Although you were not born tough , you just grew up to be tough.

    Jan was one of the TRUE hard men, a real MAN, on the rugby field. Many others claim to be legends but he was one of the few that set the benchmark.

  • 7

    6 @ superBul:
    Jan Ellis was one of my older brother, Kruppelbroer’s, rugby idols.

    Kruppelbroer is 6 years older than I am, so he saw Jan Ellis through all his glory years, whereas I was only born the year before Jan Ellis first played for the Springboks.

    What I did see from his play was that of a true hard man…. I won’t forget his fiery red head… and how he ran with the ball.

  • 8

    6 @ superBul:
    What a week I’ve had…. man, I’ve loaded a lot on my plate for 2013.

    But it’s all good.

    The funeral business did a funeral for a little baby today, still born at 7 months. Service was held in our Chappel at the Funeral Business.

    My partner has had a specially hard week, with the business gathering so much momentum… and also preparing for his father’s funeral which takes place on Monday next week.

  • 9

    @ grootblousmile:
    that is going to keep you very busy
    Someone once said , one thing you must do is K#k
    he could have added die too
    Some amazing deaths occur, we had two young people who had the town in turmoil this week. Both died in a car crash on their way to work, horrible but fast. They hit a tree, both beheaded. So sad, me and wife went to their little bush pub/restaurant last Sunday

  • 10

    @ grootblousmile:
    I played against Jan a couple of times, called him ‘Oom Jan’. We used to play at the annual rugby day at Keetmanshoop, where he also owned a sports shop for some time.
    And then we met during the NWC/SWA matches in Upington/Windhoek back in the 70s. Nice and reserved man off the field, but a red devil in the heat of the game…. sout van die aarde mens, nonetheless.

  • 11

    10 @ Pietman:
    … and we call you Oom Piet… hehehe

    Hoe gaan dit, vrind?

    Is Pietvrou al weer terug by jou daar in die vreemde?

  • 12

    Jinne, ons is ‘n klomp snaakse flokkers…. een werk met die klomp doekkoppe in die woestyn, een werk met bome en plante en het groen vingers… en ekke werk met die afgestorwenes en met PC’s… hehe

  • 13

    @ grootblousmile
    Sy kom vlg week, wag vir die laaitie se visa Maandag by PostNet innie Kaap(hy kom saam), dan klim hulle. Sy is vanaand in Welgemoed om familie te groet en so aan, en more in Gansbaai vir haar verjaardagpaartie, So, die madam is bedrywig!

  • 14

    13 @ Pietman:
    Gaan sy vir Jagse Jurie Japie ook tatta sê?


    Beteken haar klong darem iets.. is hy hardwerkend en so aan?

  • 15

    @ grootblousmile: @11 En ons praat nog rugby ook! Maar so bly ons uit die kwaaddoen uit, man moet besig wees…

  • 16

    15 @ Pietman:
    Hoe meer mens doen, hoe meer kry mens gedoen….

    Moet maar besig bly.

  • 17

    @ grootblousmile:
    Janee, klong is n goeie outjie, hy gaan so bietjie werk hier en die wereld deurkyk, werk het begin opdroog daardie kant. Soos jy weet, jong manne sukkel maar daar in SA.

  • 18

    17 @ Pietman:
    Ek is bly hy is ‘n goeie outjie, vir jou part.

    Jong, baie mense kla hulle kry nie werk nie… ek het ‘n heel ander filosofie…

    As jy nie werk het of kry in SA nie, het jy bloot geen verbeelding of ambisie nie.. as ek more alles verloor wat ek het, het ek Maandag weer ‘n ander besigheid aan die gang.

  • 19

    @ Pietman:
    Jis ou Pietman, ek en jy mismekaar nou maklik vandat ek n eerlike dag werk insit. Man hierdie plek is mooi groen nou, lyk my laasjaar se vloede het die maroela bome gemotiveer. Ek het nog nooit so baie maroelas op bome gesien nie, dit lyk byna soos druiwe trosse.

  • 20

    @ grootblousmile:
    @16 Ek sal moet n kursus gaan doen in ‘aftrede’, ek weet nie hoe nie. Ek kan nie heeldag innie tuin werk of teen die see ronddwaal en saam met vreemde toppies dopmaak en twakpraatjies aanknoop nie. Ek is soos my pa, hy raak verveeld daar by die aftree-oord, hy se daar is te veel oumense! Hy is die oudste van die lot, terloops….

  • 21

  • 22

    20 @ Pietman:
    Janee wragtig, ek en jy is nou nie juis die stilsit-tipe nie.

    As daar niks aangaan nie, skop ons dit maar aan die gang… hehehe

    Ek sal ook seker maar eendag met my boots aan dooi… sal nie kan sit ek flokkol doen nie.

  • 23

    21 @ superBul:
    Well, Pietman is 112, so sy Pa is seker so 135… hehehe

  • 24

    @ grootblousmile:
    @18 Is waar. Nee, hy sal moet sy vinger trek hierso.
    @ superBul: Jis ou bees, lanklaas gepraat, klink my jy roei daar. Ek sal glo die wereld is mooi daar, sal graag dit wil sien. Ek sien altyd net die groenigheid as ek die land invlieg daar bo-oor jou, ek kon die annerdag Hoedspruit duidelik sien doer onder.

  • 25

    @ Pietman:
    Pietman jy sal moet iets kry wat jy navors , studeer , miskien n tesis oor seemeeue, ek sal volgens Karen dit lees, haha. Maar ek sien te veel mense wat in hul werk sterf, geen werklike genieting nie. Maar as jy jou werk wel geniet , so what, dan gaan jy maar daar waar jy dit geniet.

  • 26

    Ek hoor die Tjarks was halftyd 31 / 3 voor in hulle opwarmingswedstryd met die Leopards.

  • 27

    @ Pietman:
    Pietman wrote:

    k kon die annerdag Hoedspruit duidelik sien doer onder.

    jy moet daai Pilot vra om die afterburner aan te sit as jy weer hier oorvlieg, dan maak ek vinnig n paar rookseine. Want jy gaan lyk my nooit by die wiltuin uitkom nie.

  • 28

    @ superBul:
    @21 Hy word Sept 87. Maar die ou het nog Kersfees vir my kom kuier in die Kaap! Bestuur nog self sonder bril, sal nie se hoe nie, ma vertel dan drink die ou nog n wyntjie ook langs die pad as hy die berg oor is! Sy ry nie meer graag saam met hom nie…..

  • 29

    Willie Van Zyl
    Chuck Norris het ‘n tattoo van Riaan Cruywagen op sy bors.

    Die man geniet hom daarbo, reis elke week rond

  • 30

    28 @ Pietman:
    Ek sien nou waar jy vandaan kom…. die moeilikheid is in die gene…. hehehehe

  • 31

    @ superBul:
    @25 Nee o flok, as ek in my werk moes sterf moes ek al lankal gedooi het! Ek het deesdae net so n toesigwerkie, ek sit my nie uit nie.

  • 33

    @ Pietman:
    Great , stuur groete, ek het met cell verandering nommers verloor.

  • 34

    @ grootblousmile:
    @30 Ook maar soos jy en oorle Maximus, die ou het mos ook in sy ‘boots’ gegaan, as ek reg onthou.

  • 35

    @ superBul:
    Maak so, ma-hulle onthou jou nog goed, ou Johan van Eden ook. Jy kan daar bel by 514-3731, jy ken mos die dorpkode.

  • 36

    Tjeers bulle, ek moet gaan stort en duik, ry more Jedda toe vir drie dae. Praat weer.

  • 37

    @ Pietman:
    gaan jou goed dit gaan jou wel…..

  • 38

    @ grootblousmile:
    #12 ja julle is n snaakse klomp, and some of us even make their living with their head in the clouds all day

  • 39

    R.I.P , bit before my time but from what I read he was a well respected man, wish his family much comfort at this time.

  • 40

    RIP Jan,

  • 41

    Sharks final score 71-8

    Played in windy rain conditions, crowd of around 20000 plus and rotating players all the time, good effort.

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