Owl Creek Polo Field in Glenville, New York State, can lay claim to being the most unlikely international rugby ground of the last 150 years. On Friday 25 September 1981 it was the venue for the inaugural test match between the USA Eagles and the South African Springboks.
Forty years later, the history books record that the Springboks won convincingly 38-7 in front of a crowd of around 150 people and that their wingers, Ray Mordt and Gerrie Germishuys scored five tries between them. But it was an extraordinary day for all the players involved, and none more so than Thys Burger, the thrice capped Northern Transvaal and Springbok back row forward.
As the ground at Owl Creek was set out for a polo match, Burger had the task of helping the groundsmen erect the rugby posts and then officiating as one of the touch-judges. His work was still not complete because he was required to forego his touch judge duties and take the field as a substitute for Theuns Stofberg in the 25th minute of the second half. He celebrated the final match of his Springbok test career by scoring the eighth and final try in the Springboks' victory. In the 19th century you might have laid out the rugby pitch and then been one of the touch-judges, but I doubt you would have come onto the field in the 2nd half and scored a try!