To this day, it’s one of the things from my rugby career I probably miss the most (although living in beautiful Camps Bay makes up for it)!
People often ask me what it’s like touring with the Boks? Well, like anything in life, there are pros and cons. The negatives are something I don’t like to focus on, but it’s not great living out of a suitcase for a month, while the weather in Europe in November can’t compare to what we have here in sunny SA, and coffee costs a lot when you’re paying in pounds or euros.
But the positives are what made touring great. It’s something not many sports have – being on the road, in a team, for weeks on end. Golfers and tennis players are mostly on their own or part of a small travelling group, while soccer players don’t have long tours that often. Cricket probably comes closest.
I used to love boarding those big planes in Johannesburg and flying north, usually landing at a cold and overcast Heathrow. The spirit amongst the boys are good and we usually couldn’t wait to check out a new city or just have some fun.
Without going into too much detail, I’ll never forget one time on tour when a bunch of the guys decided to prank our coach, and slipped a sleeping tablet into his cold drink. Needless to say, it was pretty hilarious!
It was a different time though – I’m told nowadays the guys will first look for the wifi codes at their new hotels, but in our days, we usually headed out for a stroll and to get some coffee or, if it was the right time of day, a beer!
Shopping was also high on the priority lists for many of the guys, be it gifts for wives, girlfriends, kids or family and friends, or the odd “from me to me”, it was always exciting to hit new shops and get new gear, stuff you often would not find yet in South Africa.
I was also always amazed at the beautiful Christmas decorations that started going up in the shops and the streets in the big European cities. It created a magical atmosphere and meant the okes had reason to leave their hotel rooms and explore.
This year, the Boks will hit London, Paris, Edinburgh and Cardiff in November – it’s a very tough tour but I know they will do well – the signs of an turnaround under Rassie Erasmus have been very promising and I’ll be backing them all the way against England, France, Scotland and Wales.
The recent win over the All Blacks in Wellington was a massive moment in the evolution of this team and Rassie, Siya and the guys will know they can put down a big marker in November in the build-up to next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Enjoy the rugby and remember to always back the Boks!
Percy Montgomery was the first Springbok to reach a century of Test caps (way back in 2008), but during his illustrious career, he’s toured to the UK and Europe numerous times, while also spending some time playing club rugby for Newport in Wales. With the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour to England, France, Scotland and Wales kicking off in November, 2007 Rugby World Cup winner ‘Monty’ is our guest column for this edition of Springbok Magazine.
Note: This column first appeared in Springbok Magazine.