Basie Viviers dies in Brandfort
Mon, 19 Oct 2009 15:33
Basie Vivier, the former Springboks captain and one of the most gregarious of men, died peacefully in Brandfort on Sunday night.
Vivier played provincial rugby for Orange Free State and Northern Transvaal. The 28 points he scored for Northern Transvaal against North Eastern Districts in 1950 was a South African record at the time. (The record had belonged to Gerrie Brand for 24 points for Western Province against South Western Districts in 1924.)
Then, after trials at Newlands, Basie was chosen as a utility back for the 1951-52 tour to the UK, Ireland and France, a most successful tour by a notably friendly Springboks of whom he was perhaps the friendliest, always the leader of the singing. He did not play a Test on the tour but was often the touch judge, wearing a cloth cap. He played nine matches at centre and five at fullback on the tour. He was often the goal-kicker, scoring 58 points which included two tries against North of Scotland. His first match on the tour was at centre against South Western Counties in Devonport.
In 1956, when Basie was 29, he became the surprise choice to captain the Springboks on their tour to Australia and New Zealand. The strong candidates for the captaincy were Salty du Rand, captain of Northern Transvaal, and Jan Pickard, captain of Western Province, but on the Wednesday night of the trials in Cape Town Du Rand punched Pickard and broke his nose. The selectors looked for an alternative captain, one who could help to build the good spirit of the team.
The season before Basie had played the first three matches for the Free State and was then dropped for the next eight but he was named as a fullback on the tour, which meant leaving in-form Jack van der Schyff at home and travelling without a tsar goal-kicker. Salty du Rand was chosen as the vice-captain and Basie could afterwards report that there was no ill feeling between Du Rand and Pickard on the tour.
The 1956 Springboks, managed and coached by Danie Craven, became the first to lose a series since 1896. Basie who had not played in Tests against the Wallabies in 1953 and the Lions in 1955, on the 1956 tour played in 17 matches (13 at fullback, 3 at centre and 1 at flyhalf), including all five Tests, four at fullback and one at flyhalf. By this stage in his career he was slow and in fact the heaviest Springbok captain up till then to take the Springboks abroad - heavier than Paul Roos, Billy Millar, Theo Pienaar, Phil Nel and Basil Kenyon, who were all forwards.
After his playing days Basie was a Western Transvaal and then a Northern Transvaal selector.
At this stage Basie's surname was Viviers. That would change. His grandmother and his grandfather both died on 2 February 1900 in the Anglo Boer War, his grandfather at Paardekop, his grandmother in a concentration camp after their farm in the Winburg District had been burnt. At school people added the S to his father's name and it was only in 1955 that it was finally established that the surname was Vivier and not Viviers. The family had to change surnames as a result.
Basie - Stefanus Sebastian Vivier, as his father was before him and his son after him - was born in Pietersburg and educated in Kenhardt and Nylstroom. He had various occupations - miner, policeman, insurance salesman and then marketing consultant for National Industries.
Basie was born on the skin of a rooibok on 1 March 1927 and died on 18 October 2009, survived by his wife Eunice (nee De Wet) after 59 years of marriage, two sons (Stefan, who played for Far North at Craven Week, and Hendrik) and two daughters (Mariette Naudé and Eunice Roberts) nine grandchildren and fiove great-grandchildren. At the time of his death he was the oldest living Springbok captain.