Jamie Bloem played top class rugby league from 1992 to 2005. He played over 300 games, mainly for Halifax, and including international appearances for South Africa and Scotland. In nearly 20 years in England, where he now lives with his wife and two children, he also played and coached rugby union, been a radio commentator, and has been one of few former professional players to become a referee.
During his national service and prior to his entry into rugby league, Jamie, played rugby union for his Army regimental unit. Upon his discharge, he joined Milnerton RFC in Cape Town. From there he was selected for Western Province Under-20 and Under-21 teams. During the early 1990’s Jamie played a few games for the Cape Town Coasters at Megawatt Park in the Inter City Competition which the club won.
In November 1992, Bloem was chosen to play for South Africa in the international series against the Commonwealth of Independent States (Russia). This was South Africa’s official entry into rugby league test match rugby. Following this entry on the international stage, he joined Castleford a year later. After a short stay, he moved to Oldham as a utility back. This period was also short-lived with Jamie soon after moving on to Doncaster. Bloem made 34 appearances for the club.
During the first part of his stay, Jamie also played for London Monarchs American Football team for a period of six months. When he came to England, Jamie’s best position was at full-back, but at Halifax he gradually became a second-row forward. In 1997 he was selected for South Africa who were touring France and played in two test matches and two games against club sides.
After a period out of rugby league, he rejoined the code and signed with Widness who were playing in the First Division. Jamie played for one and half seasons at Widnes, and managed to also fit in some rugby union during the off season, including being selected for Cheshire.
In May 1998, Halifax tempted him back to Yorkshire. Apart from a short spell at Huddersfield, Jamie stayed at Halifax for the rest of his professional career, and still lives in the town. In his first season they finished third in Super League. For the 2000 World Cup, Bloem captained the South African Rhino side. Although a stronger team than in 1995, they were still facing experienced opposition. Despite five weeks of preparation, the developing national side, lost most of their games. Results against Wales at Loftus, were equally disappointing.
In 1999 Jamie made a short return to rugby union, but this time in France where he represented Racing Metro in Paris, in the Super Cup and the Heineken Cup. Thereafter, he returned to Halifax and rugby league where he spent three years before moving to Huddersfield whom he represented in 22 matches in Super League. Following the appointment of a new Giants coach and his exclusion from the coach’s future plans, Jamie rejoined Halifax, where he played on a part-time basis while planning his long-term future.
With the game in South Africa at a low ebb after the 2000 World Cup, Bloem accepted an invitation to play for Scotland based on maternal ancestry. In this capacity, he represented his new team against Wales and Ireland. He finally retired from professional rugby league in 2005.
By Hendrik Snyders