SA Rugby on Saturday paid tribute to former African Springbok captain Mpenduli “Liston” Ntshongwana, who passed away earlier this week.
Ntshongwana, who was nicknamed ‘Liston’ after former world heavyweight boxing champion Sonny Liston, was a formidable loose forward who captained the African Springboks on a number of occasions in the 1970s against international touring teams.
Born in the Eastern Cape, he represented the University of Fort Hare and the Border Rugby Union (1970 -74) in his formative playing years.
He had pace, excellent handling skills and a massive kicking range. In addition to displaying his prowess on provincial level in the Partons Cup Competition, he went on to successfully captain the African Springboks (South African African Rugby Football Board) and later the Leopards (SA Rugby Association) against both the Proteas and international opposition such as the British Lions (1974), Italy (1974) and France (1975).
Contemporary sport writers described Ntshongwana as being “able to transform a beaten side into a lively set” and a versatile player as well as “a good leader, he run well with the ball and tackles effectively”.
Renowned former rugby historian, the late Vuyisa Qunta, listed Ntshongwana as one of the best Number 7 flankers in African rugby and therefore a sure choice for his ‘dream team’ after Ben Malamba.