Instead of waiting for a dreaded phone call to inform him of the funeral arrangements, he decided to gather the troops and surprise his old mate with a reunion that brought tears to the eyes of grown men.
That is the course of action Piet Uys from Johannesburg took when he received an emotional phone call from the wife of his friend and 1965 Paarl Gymnasium 1st XV team mate Neil “Bulletjie” Jordaan.
Bulletjie’s wife had to share the bad news with friends and family. He was diagnosed with advanced Lymphoma(cancer) and that he took the emotional decision not to receive any treatment at such a late and advanced stage of the cancer.
Piet – remembering Bulletjie as an eager and ever passionate rugby player and supporter – decided to call up the entire 1965 1st XV team from Paarl Gymnasium and organized for all of them to travel from all over the country to surprise and support their friend and former Paarl Gym tight head prop.
After careful planning, secrecy and help from the family, all the team members(except for one player) and including the coach made their way to the house of Bulletjie’s son in De Doorns, Western Cape on Saturday 20 November where Bulletjie would arrive shortly to watch the Springboks take on Scotland.
There was no shortage in tears when Bulletjie unknowingly walked around the corner where he received loud cheers from his former team mates, all dressed in Paarl Gym Old Boys jerseys. Shortly after the tears were wiped and Bulletjie got dressed in his own Old Boys jersey, the old stories and jokes started flowing just like it did 45 years ago.
“I’m speechless, it’s really wonderful. I have the utmost respect and will forever be grateful for what they have done for me today” is how Bulletjie described the reunion before the emotions took over and he had to stop the tears from flowing again.
“We really had a great time and it was nice to see some of the guys again after 45 years. If we were just a little bit fitter we would have put on a much better show than the Boks” chirped Piet at the end of the day after they all watched the Bok game together.
We at Rugby15.co.za really took this story to heart and it just goes to show what a powerful role rugby can play. Here – bringing old friends and even a coach together after 45 years – and in the lives of many others.
1965 Paarl Gym coach Bokkie Blaauw went on to become Springbok fitness coach under head coaches John Williams and Ian McIntosh.
Piet Uys was the first player ever to score two tries in the annual interschool clash against Paarl Boys High. That year Paarl Gym won 11-0. It took a further 40 years before the record was equalled. It has never been beaten.
Many of the players went on to play club rugby and Vonnie von Waltsleben also went on to play provincial rugby for Boland.
Attached below is a collection of photos from the memorable day and other relative photos.
Rugby enthusiasts are fanatical in their support for their national, regional and local teams. They travel longs distances to attend matches, view broadcasts on television and also the re-broadcasts later in the week! They follow the discussions on television, radio, newspapers and the many rugby websites. They wish to know more and are hungry for information!