Mr Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby, paid tribute to former SA Coloured Football Board captain Austin Appollis van Heerden, who sadly passed away on Tuesday.
“Austin took the road less travelled to national representation and he knew what was needed to make it to the top,” said Mr Alexander.
“His achievements as a player from the Central Karoo have to be celebrated, even though he was never very well known to the broader rugby fraternity in South Africa at the time. To captain the national side is a massive honour and something he fully deserved.
“Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends during this difficult time, but we also know Austin will live forever in the memory of South African rugby and he will be remembered for all his wonderful achievements, on and off the field.”
Van Heerden was a versatile and multi-talented midfielder who was taught the game on the dry and hard fields of the Karoo. He played for the Polytechnics, Swallows, Swans and Murraysburg rugby clubs.
From these far-flung corners of the South African countryside, Van Heerden went on to represent the Central Karoo Rugby Union in the tough Rhodes Cup and SA Cup competitions between 1953 and 1971.
In 1961, Van Heerden captained the SA Coloured Board XV in a Test against the African Springboks played at the Green Point Track in Cape Town.