Legendary coach JM “Skonk” Nicholson’s 1972 Maritzburg College first XV is widely regarded as one of the half-dozen-or-so best rugby teams the school has produced in its ever-distinguished 159-year history.
I had just turned 8 at the start of the 1972 schools’ winter sports season and that year is my earliest – and most vivid – memory of watching College on Goldstones although my late dad, Roy (Maritzburg College Class of 1944) recalled taking me along in 1970 and 71.
Skonk’s 1972 team featured a remarkable 10 Natal Schools’ Craven Week players and, had it not been for untimely injuries, a few more names might have been added to that illustrious list.
And, as was Skonk’s wont, this Flagship Rugby Team of The Year 1972 epitomised what is a mastery of the game’s fundamental elements, the increasingly unfashionable but ever-necessary platform skills that lay down the framework for the eye-catching fancy stuff that captures the hearts and minds of the myriad schoolgirls (who are also catching the eye) in the precinct of Basher Ridge.
And to cap it all, the 1972 Boys in Red Black and White – astutely captained by the little general, scrumhalf Roy Davidson, enjoyed all the other hallmarks of the renowned Maritzburg College rugby sides from both earlier and, there after:
A rampaging machine-gun-efficient ruthless tight five who took no prisoners before or after the game – I spot the broadest shoulders in the team in prop forward Pip Anderson (second from left, back row) though for some reason I can’t recall right now whether Pip was the this celebrated team’s loosehead or tighthead(?). Peter Rodseth, Colin Heard, John Nolte et al perhaps you can enlighten me?
The trademark marauding Red Black White loose forwards fed a surfeit of quick, clean possession to a classically nimble of-thought-and-invention halfback combination in Messrs Davidson and his Perfect 10 – the most natural athlete of all natural athletes – one helluva flyhalf, Neville Daniels, whose tactical acumen with ball in-hand-and out- orchestrated the Grand Show that thrilled the Goldstones Faithful to the end.
And then came the Rolls Royce moments… what a joy it was to see the likes of Top Gun winger Laurie Sharp and Silky Smooth 15 Mark Hedley at their schoolboy peak; sublime skill-sets that were an ace-of-base MasterMix – a fabulous salad dressing of no-frills economy of movement sprinkled with the most sophisticated motor skills yet seen on the schoolboy stage.
Aaaaa-aaaaah it was good.