Thys Burger
Full names: Matthys Boshoff
Date of birth: 10 Nov 1954
Place of birth: Pietersburg
School: Helpmekaar
Springbok no: 511
Debut test province: Northern Transvaal
Physical: 1.95m, 97kg
Current age: 67

Test summary: Tests: 3 Tries: 2
First Test: 14 Jun 1980 Age:25 Reserve against Britain at Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Last Test: 25 Sep 1981 Age:26 Reserve against USA at Owl Creek Polo ground, Glenville, NY
Test history:
14 Jun 198025ReserveBritainWin: 26-19 Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinN-Tvl
18 Oct 198025EighthmanSouth AmericaWin: 22-131 tryWanderers Club, MontevideoN-Tvl
25 Sep 198126ReserveUSAWin: 38-71 tryOwl Creek Polo ground, Glenville, NYN-Tvl

Groundsman, touch-judge and try-scoring player in one test : World Rugby Museum

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!