Victor my journey, by Victor Matfield and De Jongh Borchardt

Victor my journey, by Victor Matfield and De Jongh Borchardt. Zebra Press Random House Struik. Cape Town, South Africa 2011. ISBN 9781770221444 / ISBN 978-1-77022-144-4

Victor my journey, by Victor Matfield and De Jongh Borchardt. Zebra Press Random House Struik. Cape Town, South Africa 2011. ISBN 9781770221444 / ISBN 978-1-77022-144-4

South African Springbok captain Victor Matfield and former rugby journalist De Jongh Borchard are authors of this life journey of a South African sporting legend.

Victor Matfield  De Jongh Borchardt  

An early lesson

It's a cold winter's morning on the Highveld and the rugby field behind the Pietersburg Golf Club, where we'll be running on any moment, is covered in a crisp, white layer of frost. Groups of parents, warming themselves with steaming cups of coffee, have gathered to watch their youngsters play in an important match. It's not pleasant running barefoot onto an icy field, but rugby is, after all, a game for tough guys. So we're not complaining. Besides, I'm the captain and eighthman of Noordskool's (Pietersburg North Primary) under-8 team. I have to set the example. I look down at my feet, bigger than most of the guys on my team. I'm also taller and stronger than my peers, and I realise that on this day I have to be a true leader. We are playing our arch-enemy from the other side of town, Oosskool, as Pietersburg East Primary was commonly known. I size up our opponents. They look bigger than the lot of us, and I know they play good rugby. But we're not too shabby either. But before long we're behind our own posts for the umpteenth time as Oosskool's flyhalf places the ball to convert yet another try. His teammates all sport happy smiles. There's no scoreboard, but I know we're trailing by at least 30 to 40 points. I call the guys to form a circle. I am the captain, and the captain needs to say something, right now. 'Boys, when that final whistle goes, we run,' I command. 'We run over there, behind the pavilion. We don't shake their hands, we just go.' I couldn't think of anything else to say. To lose is a terrible thing. And it doesn't help that your dad is a big shot in Far North schoolboy rugby and principal of the primary school you attend. When the whistle eventually goes, we make a beeline for the cover of the pavilion. I'm leading, with the team hot on my heels. A feeling of freedom and intense relief fills me as I make my getaway. My plan has saved us from further humiliation. But I'm not fast enough. And it's not the referee or supporters of Oosskool that chase after us. It's my mom, Hettie. She's furious and speeding towards me like a fleet-footed winger, her target all too obvious: my right ear. She grabs hold of it and gives it a good pinch before the lecture begins. 'Victor, you turn back this instant, go and find each player on that team, shake their hand and tell them they played well. The same goes for their coach. And then you thank the referee for the game. If you don't go back right now, I'll see to it that you never play rugby again.' Bit of an overreaction, I think, but I know Mom when she's this serious. And above all, I know she is right. So I turn back and start looking for the Oosskool team. I'm still down in the dumps when my parents drive me home later that day. Not my best day, first a massive pummelling on the field, then a proper dressing-down from my mother. But there is one more unpleasant surprise in store. As soon as we arrive home, I am told to go to the bathroom. I know all too well what this means. A hiding on the rugby field isn't pleasant, but this is going to be in a different league altogether. No running away from this one; I have to face a thorough spanking, dished out by my dad. Moments like these stay with you for a lifetime. Although I didn't realise it then, I learnt a valuable lesson on that fateful day: sportsmanship is more important than winning or losing. In rugby, it's as important to win graciously as it is to lose with dignity.

This is an excerpt from the book: Victor my journey, by Victor Matfield and De Jongh Borchardt.

Title: Victor my journey
Genre: Cricket sport autobiography
Authors: Victor Matfield; De Jongh Borchardt
Imprint: Zebra Press
Publisher: Random House Struik
Cape Town, South Africa 2011
ISBN 9781770221444 / ISBN 978-1-77022-144-4
Softcover, 15 x 23 cm, 344 pages, numerous colour photos

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