Kevin Brian Henry de Klerk has been there and done that. The forceful figure of the current president of the Golden Lions Rugby Union has played in 13 Tests for his country, in more than 100 games for the then Transvaal and probably double that in club rugby.
De Klerk has walked the walk and has got the T-shirts of clubs such as Union, where he made his senior debut at the tender age of only 17, at Pretoria Defence, where he partnered the great Frik du Preez at only 19, and at Diggers and Alberton, where he played from 1971 to 1984.
De Klerk was still a scholar at Hill High in the south of Johannesburg when he joined Union and he immediately made the Transvaal Under 20 team, even before he played two Craven Weeks for the Union. When he did his national service in Pretoria he found himself amongst men such as oom Frik, and Springboks Piston van Wyk, Kleintjie Grobler and Thys Lourens, all legends in Blue Bulls country.
Back in Johannesburg after a tough baptism in the Carlton Cup De Klerk was recruited to play for the Afrikaans club in the south, the legendary Diggers, which attracted super stars like a magnet, remembers De Klerk.There was a stage that no fewer than 14 members of Diggers were selected for a Transvaal team, and some of his team-mates included Springbok locks Klippies Kritzinger and Moaner van Heerden, Springbok front-rowers Sakkie Sauermann, Dave Frederickson and Johan “Pottie” Strauss.
He remembers Gert Muller as the best winger he ever saw, and Peter Cronjé as one of the best centres of his time, and the halfbacks, Gerald Bosch and Paul Bayvel became household names in South African rugby. He was a member of a Diggers side, captain by the Springbok captain Piet Greyling, when they set two world records in a club game against Alberton at Ellis Park.
They set a SA record by beating Alberton 124-0 (22 tries) in 1972 and set another record when all 15 players scored tries. At one stage Muller crossed the try-line and waved one of the props through to score his try. Much later, in 1980, when the Springboks played the South American Jaguars at the Wanderers, four of the five members of the Green and Gold tight five, himself, Sauermann, Frederickson and Strauss, were member of Diggers.
It has probably never been done before and certainly will never be again. De Klerk played his last few years out at Alberton where he retired in 1984 and coached for four seasons. Club rugby is close to his heart and helped shape his own wonderful career. It made him street smart, says De Klerk, and helped foster great friendships.
He was a member of the Four Musketeers, with Richard Prentiss, Pottie Strauss and Klippies Kritzinger and while they won’t all be present when the Lions return to their roots and play Currie Cup games at both Diggers and Alberton, De Klerk will be proud to watch the historic occasions. It was Diggers and Jim Foley that helped shape him for a wonderful career.
Kevin de Klerk facts:
Born: 6th of June 1950
Transvaal debut: 10th July 1971
Gazelle debut: 22 September 1972
Springbok debut: 8 June 1974
Provincial career: 1971-1984 107 games for Lions, 1979 1 game for Natal
International career: 13 Tests
Best allround lock partner: Frik du Preez
Best line-out opponent: John Williams