Sometimes in life one experiences what I like to call ‘memory moments.’ These are, as the term implies, moments which will remain in your mental scrapbook forever and ones in which you are easily able to recall the emotions surrounding them. I experienced a rugby memory moment on Saturday in Cardiff for the Wales versus South Africa test.
Forgive me for one second for sounding a bit nostalgic, but I realised a dream last weekend with my much older brother. He was the one who gave me my name (after his rugby hero, Rob Louw), and introduced me to the game I love so much. He spent countless hours with me in the back garden or indoors nurturing my passion for rugby, taking more tackles and cheap shots from this one-time over-zealous ‘laaitie‘ than Schalk has had in his lifetime. And let’s not forget the number of man-hours we spent watching the sport on the box, watching re-runs of games we had kept on VHS tapes more times than Jake White would have done for a World Cup final.
In short, we were rugby ‘verskrik’ (mad). Still are.
We’d always spoken about going together to Cardiff to watch the Boks and now that he was living in the UK, when the fixture was strangely dropped into the calendar back in March, it was without hesitation that I bought two tickets and said that it was my chance to repay him for the rugby education.
And so we met outside Gate 7 at the Millennium Stadium, amidst a sea of Welsh and Bok supporters. I was wearing my brand-new latest-edition Bok jersey, while he adorned his 1980’s Rob Louw-inspired version, appropriately.
The most thrilling part of the whole mini-adventure was not necessarily the game; it was the singing of the anthems. We have always had a soft spot for the Welsh anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. It is deeply moving and stirs very intense emotions in one. But to hear it in that stadium, on this day, with him, was very special. Another dream realised.
As for the game, it was a mixed bag, but that was to be expected. Both teams hadn’t played together for a few months, and most of their troops had come off the back of tough domestic tournaments.
The Bok debutants shined; Danie Rossouw looked very accomplished at lock, while some of the overseas-based members probably need another fixture or two to get back into the swing of things. The scoreline will flatter Wales, even though the Boks had to fight back from 16-3 down at one stage. We out-scrummed them, and out-jumped them, but did look a bit pedestrian at times, though it is not of great concern to me at this stage of the international season.
One thing I will say, it was about the only time I could handle hearing the vuvuzela at a rugby match! Possibly as there were only a handful of them…
This article originally appeared on The South African in 2010.