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While reading up on one of my favourite Boks from the 80s Rob Louw, an article on the net caught my eye.
The article began by saying that becoming a Springbok was a dream of most (then white) young South Africans, but only eight born in 1955 achieved that dream.
The eight were, backrower Rob Louw (19 Tests), utility forward Theuns Stofberg (21), centre Willie du Plessis (14), prop Ockie Osthuizen (9), lock Schalk Burger snr (6), prop Hennie van Aswagen (2), winger Darius Botha (1) and scrumhalf Gawie Visagie (tour matches only).
Interestingly, all bar Burger Sr toured New Zealand during that turbulent demonstration tour of 1981, with Visagie being called over as an injury replacement.
Wilie du Plessis was the eldest of three outstanding back three-quarters, all of whom played for the Boks. Middle brother Michael was also a centre, while youngest brother Carel was dubbed ‘the prince of wingers’.
Darius Botha was the elder brother of the more famous andamp; legendary Naas Botha. Of course, Schalk Burger snr is the father of Schalk Burger jnr.
I then turned to my own birth year (1956) and my own country Australia, to see how many guys born in my year made the Wallabies.
The figure was again eight, which began to make me think that’s a pretty good number for a birth year in any particular sport.
The eight were, utility forward Duncan Hall (15 Tests), hooker Billy Ross (13), utility back Ken Wright (9), winger Mick Martin (6), eightman Peter Lucas (3), hooker Bruce Malouf (1), backrower Tom Barker (tour matches only) and eightman Don Price (tour matches only).
Interestingly Hall, the son of Kangaroos hardman prop Duncan snr, not only shared the same birth year as myself but exactly the same birth date. Also, we were both locks who much preferred to play eightman.
But there the comparison ends, because Hall was an infinitely better rugby player than myself.
Ross, Wright and Barker were also schoolboy team mates to the UK in 1973-74. Don Price was the younger brother of fiery dual international from the Wallabies and Kangaroos, Ray Price.
I then turned my attention to rugby league, but could only find six players born in my year who became Kangaroos.
They were, prop Craig Young (20 Tests), second rower/prop Les Boyd (17), fullback Greg Brentnall (13), halfback Steve Mortimer (8), winger/fullback Ian Schubert (4) and prop Royce Ayliffe (1).
Next stop was the baggy greens Test cricket team. Here I found five guys born in my year who made it to the top.
They were opener Graeme Wood (59 Tests), fast bowler Terry Alderman (41), opener Andrew Hilditch (18), off-spinner Peter Taylor (13) and slow left-armer Tom Hogan (7).
Finally, what about the Socceroos? I found just three – striker John Kosmina (60 Tests), winger/midfielder Peter Sharne (14) and goalkeeper Martyn Crook (13).
Of course, in time, I might look up Olympic sports and see how my birth year did there.
What about yourself, fellow Roarers? How successful is your birth year in your favourite sport or sports?