Nkosi Sikelel’i Afrika (God Bless Africa)

I had manufactured an opportunity to go and play rugby in Durban during the off season. This was conceived on one of those bleak afternoons sitting at my desk in Wellingborough, working for Connell Wilson. Andre Joubert had given me his number from the Hong Kong Sevens, and I called and asked him whether there was an opportunity to play for his club during the summer. At the time Andre was a Springbok, playing provincial rugby in Natal, but affiliated to The Harlequins Rugby Club. He gave me a number to call Mike Gedye, the chief executive of Froggie/Michelle Footwear, the main sponsors of the club. Mike and Sarah, his wife, said they would be happy for me to play rugby for them and invited me to stay at their house until I found my feet. Geech gave his blessing and I left after the last game of the season against West Hartlepool. This was a match that we won, but because Harlequins won at Gloucester we ended up going down.

I thought of Durban as a small fishing village on the East Coast of South Africa; I must have based this on my perception of Africa from my visits to Cape Town and Namibia. It was a huge shock when I arrived in Durban. It had a population of almost 3.5 million, the third biggest city in South Africa and the largest city in KwaZulu-Natal. It was famous as the busiest port in Africa.


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