The Namibian sports fraternity woke up to the sad news that one of Namibia’s most celebrated rugby players, one Douglas Jeffery, has taken a bow from the game of life, aged 61.
A highly gifted versatile athlete, the strongly built Doug did not only rank amongst the finest oval-shaped ball chasers in the business, the brother was equally at home swinging golf clubs.
He also represented his adopted land South West Africa (SWA) in the softball discipline at provincial level.
With a number of national championship titles behind his name in high-profile golf tourneys across the length and breadth of the country, Doug Jeffery’s name will go down in history as one of the most accomplished athletes ever unearthed in our neck of the woods.
Doug might have gone on to be reunited with his ancestors but his legacy will long linger in the minds of those who came to know and loved him dearly. After all, he holds the record as the finest dead-ball specialist in the South African Provincial Currie Cup.
His unbelievable long-range neatly placed penalty kick, from ten metres out of his own half against the much-fancied Northern Transvaal (Bulls) outfit at Loftus Versveld, in Pretoria, is yet to be replicated.
Doug played a blinder of a match when SWA defied the odds to see off the strong Western Province side in their own backyard in a rain-soaked David vs Goliath Currie Cup clash at Newlands, Cape Town, in 1988.
In today’s edition, New Era Sport profiles the unrevealed life story of this sporting icon as never told before.
Born Douglas Jeffery in the wind-swept city of Port Elizabeth (PE) in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, on the 8th of February 1955, ‘Doug’, as he was affectionately known amongst his peers in rugby circles, was a late starter, if one has to sum up his arrival in sports.
An English ‘boytjie’ by birth, Doug started his schooling at the predominantly Afrikaans-speaking Parks Primary School in his hometown Port Elizabeth.
Strangely, he had never shown any interest in playing rugby or any other sport while still at school. Upon completion of his secondary schooling, the strongly built athlete had to undergo the two-year compulsory service in the South African military. It was during his time with the men in camouflaged uniform that Doug started to develop a serious interest in playing competitive rugby.
He made his mark with the Eastern Province army side before he was dispatched to the Free State, where he continued to feature for the Free State army team.
In between he was called up for the South African Junior Springboks that played against the touring British Lions in 1982.
Soon afterwards, Doug was a much sought-after commodity, attracting interest from various franchises, which led to his arrival at Windhoek-based Wanderers Rugby Club the following year.
He was lured to the ‘White Stallions’ stable by the wideawake club stalwarts Daantjie Louw and Johan Lerm, who poached him from Free State by dangling a juicy carrot in his face in the shape of decent job opportunities.
In hindsight, the prospect of playing provincial rugby for the fast emerging ‘Biltongboere’ (the SWA Rugby Fifteen) also beckoned.
Doug was to form part of the invincible side that caused havoc in back-to-back promotion to the South African second tier tourney, the Currie Cup B, before the Gerhard Mans’ led amateurs surprised friend and foe when Henning Snyman’s ‘Amazing Babes’ gained promotion to the South African Elite Rugby League at only their first attempt.
Considered relatively raw and inexperienced in the real sense of the word, the ‘Biltongboere’ caused havoc bulldozing their way to stardom with courageous and pure brutal rugby never seen in our neck of the woods before.
Playing in a well-oiled backline that included the crowd’s blue-eyed boy, the great Andre Stoop, Gerhard Mans, Bassie Buitendag, Shaun McCully and Casper Dirks, as well as the ever present Willem Maritz, Doug established himself amongst the team’s most trusted match winners.
In the meantime, Doug was included in the South West Africa (SWA) softball team that competed against South African provincial sides in 1983, the same year he arrived in his adopted Land of the Brave.
At club level, he was instrumental in the White Stallions’ domination of domestic rugby – winning countless accolades including numerous league titles with the fired-up Pionierspark outfit. Doug might be gone the way of all flesh but his legacy will remain intact with many.
His name will certainly go down in history as one of the true sons of the soil who fought tooth and nail representing their country with distinct honour, notably during the historic victory at Newlands against South African rugby powerhouse Western Province in 1988.
As fate would have it, Namibia’s independence came slightly late for Doug as he was considered over the hill by the time the country was admitted to play test matches against the likes of Italy, Wales and France.
There is an old saying that you can’t keep a good man down and this particular adage surely applied to Doug when he was recalled to the National Senior Rugby Fifteen for Namibia’s first ever tour to England, where he played a blinder despite his advanced age.
A scratch handicap golfer, Doug was a valuable member of the Namibian golf team that competed fiercely in the popular Zone Six Tourney in 1992.
Sadly, the brother exited the game of life after he succumbed to kidney failure in a Windhoek hospital last week. Doug leaves behind five offspring – four sons and one daughter.
One of his sons, Roux, is amongst the country’s finest golfers; Wayne is a formidable player for the Namibian men’s hockey side while Jean-Pierre is an emerging rugby player for Wanderers’ first team. May his soul rest in eternal peace.