Like father, like son
June 10, 2010
Springbok Ruan Pienaar followed in the footsteps of his father in defeating the Lions © Getty Images
Ned Barry Liam Barry Brian Fitzpatrick Sean Fitzpatrick Dick Greenwood Will Greenwood Alan Lawson Rory Lawson Ruan Pienaar Gysie Pienaar George Vickery Walter Vickery
Having been named in the South Africa 22 to face France at Newlands on Saturday, Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe will join a select band of international players should he take to the field. His father, Flippie, played six Tests for the Springboks between 1983 and 1989. With the van der Merwes in mind we take a look back at some other notable father-son combos.
Dick and Will Greenwood - England
England's World Cup-winning centre Will Greenwood followed his father Dick into a white shirt, although they possessed contrasting styles. In his five England Tests, secured between 1966 and 1969, Dick became known as a nuggety flanker while his son was a fluid, enterprising runner. Greenwood junior lifted world rugby's top prize in 2003 and was a vital cog in Clive Woodward's England machine. He first toured with the British & Irish Lions in 1997 but was forced to wait until 2005 to pull on a red shirt against New Zealand, after which he called time on a wildly successful career.
Gysie and Ruan Pienaar - South Africa
While Ruan Pienaar has been used as a backline jack of all trades by the Springboks, his father, Gysie, made the No.15 jersey his home. The younger Pienaar has also pulled on the green jersey at fullback, as well as fly-half and scrum-half. His father played 13 Tests between 1980 and 1981, including four Tests against the Lions in 1980. He scored a try in the second Test victory in Bloemfontein, 19 years before his son tasted a series win over the tourists as the Springboks' No.10.
Brian and Sean Fitzpatrick - New Zealand
A rugged, powerful fly-half or centre, BBJ Fitzpatrick passed on some of his physicality to his son, Sean, arguably the greatest All Black of all time. A fiery, aggressive hooker, Sean remains the most capped All Black and lifted the inaugural Rugby World Cup on home turf in 1987. His ascent to the international ranks came as part of the 'Baby Blacks' - a new generation of players who were called up as a result of the blanket two-Test ban placed on those rebels, known as the Cavaliers, who had toured South Africa in 1986 against the wish of the New Zealand Rugby Union. He would go on to win 92 caps and captain his country a record 51 times. His father player three Tests and 19 games for the All Blacks in an international career that spanned 1953 and 1954.
Alan and Rory Lawson - Scotland
Scotland scrum-half Rory Lawson has a unique rugby heritage. The grandson of 'the voice of rugby' Bill McLaren, his father, Alan, was also a Test No.9. Lawson senior married McLaren's daughter, Linda, having played 15 times for Scotland. His son made his name in England with Gloucester, being handed an international debut in 2006. A compact player, Lawson played a key role off the bench as Scotland defeated the Wallabies at Murrayfield in 2009, having been hauled in from the Scotland 'A' squad due to injury. His cousin Jim Thompson is a fullback for Edinburgh and is currently on tour with Scotland in Argentina.
Ned, Kevin and Liam Barry - New Zealand
In a case of anything you can do, I can do better, Ned Barry's son and grandson both graduated to be All Blacks. He played one Test for New Zealand in 1934 among the forwards. His son, Kevin, did not play at international level but played 23 times in midweek fixtures, also winning the Ranfurly Shield with Auckland in the early 1960s. The final chapter in the Barry tale came in 1995 when Kevin's son Liam, like his predecessors a loose forward, played his one and only Test against France in Paris. Ironically, he ended his career with an identical international record to that of his grandfather, one Test and nine games.
Felix and Morne du Plessis - South Africa
One of the legends of South African rugby, Morne du Plessis was the son of Springbok Felix and international hockey player Pat. Felix had played three times in 1949 but his son would go on to have a profound impact on Springbok history. As a player he was a brilliant No.8, playing 22 Tests, who was also entrusted with the captaincy of the side. As isolation took hold his career was curtailed, but he returned to the forefront in 1995 when he served as team manager for the Springboks as Francois Pienaar led them to glory in the Rugby World Cup.
George and Walter Vickery - England & Wales
Walter Vickery has a unique place in Welsh rugby history as he is their only player to have a father capped by England. George Vickery played one Test against Ireland in 1905, eventually moving to Wales in pursuit of work. As a result his son, a No.8, learned his trade not in Somerset, but in Taibach and Cwmavon, eventually graduating to the Aberavon firsts. His international call came in 1938, against England of course, and he would play three more times before the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Following the end of fighting he returned to continue playing for Aberavon.