Dawie Ackerman, former University of Stellenbosch, Western Province and South African rugby union lock- and flank forward was the captain of the first national South Africa rugby league team which toured Australia and New Zealand in 1963. Ackerman was born on 3 June 1930 in Aliwal-North in the rural Eastern Cape, where he also received most of his schooling. In 1948 he enrolled at Stellenbosch University to study to become a teacher.
He represented the University from 1948 to 1955 in the Grand Challenge, Knock-out Cup, Town Challenge Western Province competitions, annual tours and intervarsity matches. He won his first honours when Stellenbosch won the Grand Challenge Championship in 1951, 1955 and 1956. In 1950, after a win against the University of Cape Town, Ackerman also made his debut for Western Province in both friendly matches and the Currie Cup. However, he missed selection for the team to face Transvaal in the final at the end of the season. He won full honorary colours from the university and kept his place in the provincial side until 1957.
During 1951–52, Ackerman played in five intervarsity matches and against the touring Oxford-Cambridge combination which Stellenbosch beat 11–8. He was then selected for the Southern Universities XV (Stellenbosch and Cape Town) against the British tourists as well as Western Province. His consistent performances saw him selected for a University for a tour of Rhodesia and a match against the Australian Wallabies a year later.
When the Currie Cup competition resumed in 1954, Ackerman was playing with at least four future rugby league players in Rudi Hasse, Gert Rheeders, Alan Skene and Ivor Dorrington. As one of only 24 players selected for Western Province that season, Ackerman played in his first provincial Currie Cup final against Northern Transvaal – with Tom van Vollenhoven in their ranks – on 18 September. After intercepting a pass, he scored a critical try to help to cement a WP 11–8 victory. This earned him a place in a South African Invitation XV against Eastern Province which put him on the threshold of full national recognition.
During the 1955 season, Ackerman, along with Wilf Rosenberg and Tommy Gentles, was chosen for the Junior Springboks for a short tour of South Africa and Rhodesia. The idea was to use the junior team to develop future Springboks. The team played and won three matches. Ackerman received his national call-up to the Springbok side for the remainder of the Test series against the Lions.
He made his test debut on 20 August 1955 in the second Test at Newlands. His task was: ‘check the irrepressible Cliff Morgan’. Before 46,000 supporters, Ackerman crowned his test debut with his first test try to contribute to a 25–9 South Africa victory. Future rugby league stars Tom van Vollenhoven scored three tries and Wilf Rosenberg one. After South Africa lost the third test in Pretoria, Ackerman helped his team to avert a series defeat when he sent Daan Retief away for a critical try, converted by Roy Dryburgh, in the deciding fourth Test in Port Elizabeth. This was the start of a successful international career and won him a place in the 1956 team to tour Australia and New Zealand. On tour, Ackerman scored eight tries against provincial sides and the New Zealand Maori, including two tries in a match on at least three occasions. He played in four of the six test matches on tour.
In the period 1957 to 1958, he continued to play for WP in the Currie Cup and SA Rugby Board Challenge Trophy competitions and was part of the team that won the Board Trophy that year. Ackerman, however, did not make it into the national side for the French series in 1958. He, however, was selected for a combined WP, South Western Districts and Boland side which played the tourists on 30 July at Wellington. His team won 38–8 with tries by Giepie Wentzel, Hugh Gillespie (another future rugby league player), Alan Skene, Jan Pickard, BGV Lynn and Ackerman. Eight members of this team, including Ackerman, were then selected for the second test at Ellis Park on 16 August 1958. They were, however, not up to the challenge and South Africa lost the series 1–0 against the first French team to visit the Republic. This was Ackerman’s swansong in rugby union test matches.
Ackerman then moved to Johannesburg where he played for Wanderers RFC in 1959, Diggers in 1960 and Pirates in 1961. He also represented Transvaal in 18 games between 1959 and 1961 to conclude a very productive union career. Thereafter, he turned to rugby league. In July 1962, Ackerman signed for the Southern Suburbs club, a member club of the then-newly established Rugby League South Africa competition who in time went on to won the first South African Rugby League Championship. He died of a heart attack in January 1970 aged only 39.
By Hendrik Snyders
14 September 2021
Poll shows 88% of French people are in favor of Rugby League World Cup in 2025 in France
According to the survey of people in France, organized by the Institute Francaise d’Opinion Publique (IFOP), 88% of respondents support the plan to organize the Rugby League World Cup in France in 2025
In addition, the study shows that 69% of the French people would like the competition to take place in their region, giving support to the Organizing Committee's decision to host the competition in around 40 different towns and cities.
The proposed format of the competition will see, for the very first time, men’s, women’s, wheelchair, and youth competitions organized simultaneously and equally. A format that is proving very popular and has 88% general approval and 41% very supportive.
The survey demonstrates that 67% of the population are ready to support the French national teams, 73% believe that the event would have a unifying effect and 76% believe it will be very positive for the morale of the nation. Finally, 72% agree that such a huge event would benefit the French economy and especially the tourism economy in the host cities.
The business model is based upon 1.3 million tickets being bought with 60% sold in France and 40% to international visitors. Importantly, 33% of the population surveyed said that they are ready to buy tickets now.
Michel Wiener, Directeur Exécutif du Comité de Candidature,
“This survey has demonstrated the support of the general public for our proposed plan to deliver a huge international sports event including all forms of the sport, in multiple towns and cities at affordable prices. It confirms the positive welcome already offered by local authorities across the country. We are very happy with this demonstration of widespread support for our proposal to organize the Rugby League World Cup in France in 2025.”
Jérôme Fourquet, Directeur du Département Opinion & Stratégies d'Entreprise de l'IFOP,
“The results of the survey are a positive response to France’s plan to organize RLWC2025 and illustrate the strong support for rugby as a sport that interests the public and can attract a large audience. 31% of the public aged over 18 years, which represents potentially 15 million people, have said that they are fairly or very interested in rugby. By comparison, the similar figure for football is 29%.”
*The survey was conducted between August 31 and September 3, 2021. There were 1803 participants drawn to form a national sample.
For PR and media requests please contact:
ABE MIDAS SOUTH AFRICAN RUGBY LEAGUE PERSONALITY OF THE WEEK - Dave Southern – Inaugural Chairman - South African Amateur Rugby League
In December 1989, on the inaugural meeting of the South African Amateur Rugby League, held at the Old Edwardian Club in Johannesburg, Dave Southern was elected Chairman of the new body. It was a fitting assignment for Southern, who, with Anthony Barker, initiated the process of relaunching rugby league in South Africa. Born in Widnes, a rugby league stronghold located between Liverpool and Manchester, the task of reviving the 13-player code, was as natural as breathing. It all started in December 1988, when Southern met Barker from Wigan, in the Johannesburg Irish pub, called Fibber Maghees next to the Kyalami Racing circuit. Sharing the idea of starting rugby league locally Southern contacted, Harry Edgar from Open Rugby and Mr David Oxley, Rugby Football League Chairman, about assistance with launching the sport. The continued existence of apartheid and the lack of a rugby league World Development Officer to help complicated matters with no assistance forthcoming.
Unperturbed, Southern and Barker took it upon themselves to set the ball rolling. A member of the Old Edwardians (Old Eds) Rugby Football Club in Johannesburg at the time, Southern used all their available resources to give impetus to the process. To determine potential interest from players, coaches, and administrators, an advertisement was placed in the Saturday Star. This brought at least 40 interested individuals into the process. They further received support from Star reporter, Rodney Hartman, who as a follow-up, wrote an article outlining further plans and desires. He also assisted with advertising the next meeting, which was to become the inaugural meeting at Old Edwardians, where the SA Amateur Rugby League was constituted and leadership elected.
Started from a modest base, the SAARL operated from leased facilities with one paid official, Dave Southern, who was tasked with spreading the rugby league gospel in schools and the black townships. This was financed with the aid of income generated through a fundraising dinner. Limited financial support was also later received from the British Rugby League.
Southern served the organisation until June 1993. After leaving SARL, he, together with Barry Haslam, and others established Mini League – a developmental program aimed at growing rugby league’s local base. In 1999, after a 12 –year stay in South Africa, Dave Southern moved to Ireland, where he became the inaugural chairman of Rugby League Ireland after its establishment in 2000.
By Hendrik Snyders