Editorials 25.10.2017 05:45 am

‘The Von’ scores his final try

Rugby ball in motion over grass. Thinkstock Images

Rugby ball in motion over grass. Thinkstock Images

As 20-year-old police officer, he played his first Test, against the British Lions.

There are names that are forever writ large in the rugby lexicon, even for those who never saw the legends live. One is Tom van Vollenhoven, who died at 82 over the weekend.

Known as simply “The Von”, he played seven Tests for the Springboks during 1955 and 1956.

As 20-year-old police officer, he played his first Test, against the British Lions, at centre, but it was the second Test at Newlands against the tourists which cemented his fame.

Moved to the wing, Van Vollenhoven scored a hattrick of tries in a 25-9 victory. The third of his tries was epic.

From a pass more than 40m out near the touchline, he stepped inside Tony O’Reilly, outpaced the covering English scrumhalf, Dickie Jeeps, and beat Scottish fullback Angus Cameron with a feint outside and an inside swerve to score between the posts.

His amateur rugby union career behind him, Van Vollenhoven switched to the paid ranks of rugby league with St Helens in Lancashire. His name was to become legendary all over again.

“The Von” remains the Saints’ record try scorer, with 392 in 409 games, more than 100 ahead of his nearest rival, and in 1958-59, he set a single-season club record with 62 tries.

 

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