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Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Rugby Personalities: Looking back: Dr Bertie Strasheim

On the 28th of June 1998 the Sunday Times announced the death of Dr Bertie Strasheim. Strasheim doesn't have a high profile amongst South African rugby fans but he was one of the important cogs that kept the game rolling over the decades. He was the referee in the turbulent 1968 Currie Cup final between Transvaal and Northern Transvaal. Strasheim handled 8 tests in all, his full test record is provided below the Sunday Times article.

Strasheim one of the best

Posted: 28th June 1998

THE recent death of Dr Bertie Strasheim, one of the legends of South African rugby, went to a large extent unnoticed as Bafana Bafana were eliminated in France, the Irish were creating a sensation in South Africa and the SA cricket team were on song in England. Was a respected official. Ask Frik du Preez, Thys Lourens, Mof Myburg and many others who was the best referee they ever played under and they would all agree there was only one - Strasheim.

Honesty from home-town referees in the days before mutual referees was debatable. All agree there was one honest man, Strasheim.

In an interview shortly before his death, Strasheim, a specialist, said he made many mistakes, but never favoured any side. It was against his principles.

"Rugby is only a game, not life. It was my duty to be fair. I made a point of knowing the laws and always did my best," he said.

Even when the man in charge made mistakes, the top players never queried his decisions, for he immediately said he was sorry.

A Currie Cup final between Northern Transvaal and Western Province was nearly not played because Province threatened to stay away if Strasheim was not appointed. In the end, they accepted the man Northerns had appointed.

Strasheim was regarded in all big rugby playing countries as the best in the world. He believed in controlling the game with a firm hand.

There was a lot of tension before the 1968 final between Transvaal and Northern Transvaal and the good "Doc" decided to take control. A great game developed, but Strasheim admitted later that it was one of the hardest he had handled.

Gys Pitzer and Piston van Wyk were two of the toughest hookers in the business. Both were Boks playing in the same era.

One day their club sides met and the players went for one another from the first whistle.

Strasheim spoke to them, threatened to send them off and then suddenly blew the whistle.

"OK, kill each other. We'll all stand back. The one who goes to court for murder must remember I will testify against him," he said. That was the end of the battle.

There are numerous stories about this giant whose father also handled international games. He will be fondly remembered.

26 Jul 1958 France Draw: 3-3 Newlands, Cape Town
30 Apr 1960 Scotland Win: 18-10 EPRFU Stadium (Boet Erasmus), Port Elizabeth
25 Jun 1960 New Zealand Win: 13-0 Ellispark, Johannesburg
23 Jun 1962 Britain Draw: 3-3 Ellispark, Johannesburg
04 Aug 1962 Britain Win: 8-3 Newlands, Cape Town
25 Jul 1964 France Lose: 6-8 P.A.M. Brink Stadium, Springs
15 Jul 1967 France Win: 26-3 Kingspark, Durban
27 Jul 1968 Britain Win: 19-6 Ellispark, Johannesburg
great story.

these guys (refs) are always the ones that takes a lot of stick from us as fans.

it is good to read a story like this and good to know that their are refs who think like this and are not glory boys or clowns like the ones we have today (take note kaplan/tappe)
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