Taureq (Richard) Britton – Rhino 1994
Taureq (Richard) Britton was born in the Strand into a family with strong links with the St. George’s Rugby Football Club. This club played under the auspices of the former Somerset & Districts Rugby Board which in turn was a member of the non-racial and anti-apartheid South African Rugby Union (SARU). In line with the family tradition, he started his rugby career with the St. George’s Juniors. After matriculating from Elsies River High School on the Cape Flats, he joined Belhar RFC after school –playing fullback for two years in the competitions of the Tygerberg Rugby Union. During this period and following an injury to one of the club’s lock forwards, Taureq, then still known as Richard, was switched to the forward pack – a move that had a significant impact on his further career. His first representative selection thereafter was his selection to the Tygerberg Rugby Union ‘B’-side. This period also saw his conversion to Islam and adoption of the name Taureq.
At the end of the 1986 season, Taureq left Tygerberg and joined the Young Stars RFC under the auspices of the Green Point-based Western Province Rugby Union - the leading province under SARU. Within this surroundings, Britton played in the extremely competitive Kajee Moosa competition. Based on credible performances during his maiden season, he gained selection to the Western Province for the inter-provincial South African Cup in 1987. The newcomer to the WP-pack also distinguished himself in defeating the City & Suburban Rugby Union in a festival game at the University of the Western Cape. In addition to delivering “a superb performance in the line-outs”, he scored a try
A particular high point was him playing in the SA Cup final against the Kwazakhele Rugby Union (KWARU) – a match they won by 3-0. This was further crowned a year later by Taureq winning non-racial rugby’s highest honour – a place in the SARU national side. He made his debut on 10 October 1987 against the Eastern Cape XV at the Adcock Stadium. This was followed on 1 October 1988, by a festival match against the SA Country Districts at Mooreesburg. Britton maintained his place in the national side for their game against the Eastern Province Centenary Invitational XV played at the Adcock Stadium in Port Elizabeth on 9 September 1989. In this game he continued his outstanding form by winning the lionshare of the lineout possession. When he won his fourth cap on 26 August versus a Transvaal XV and his fifth on 29 September 1990 in the match against the Border Zone, the Cape Times described the player at number 4 as “arguably without peer as a lineout specialist” that gave his side “a significant advantage in this phase”. An additional honour was Britton’s being made vice-captain of the national side which was captained by scrumhalf Allister Coetzee, the future Springbok coach.
In 1991, on the eve of rugby unity, Taureq joined the Hamilton RFC in Cape Town from where he won a place in the Western Province Currie Cup side. After unity, he also won selection into the SA Development XV for matches against France, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Argentina. Britton also represented Western Province in the Melrose Sevens competition.
Following his achievements in rugby union, Taureq Britton entered rugby league during the 1993 – 1994 seasons, playing for Cape Town in the second row. Coached by former Dewsbury rugby league professional, Martin Birmingham, the player made an immediate impression. Among others, he assisted his club to win the national championship. He also played for the Cape Raiders Rugby League Sevens team. This resulted in his selection and debut on 5 March 1994 in Randburg, for the South African national rugby league team, the Rhinos, in the ‘test’ against BARLA Lions. With only two Cape Town-based players in the side, Britton also cemented his place in rugby league history.