I often heard about Ryk while I was in Kimberley. He was reported to be a great prospect but seemed to be injured more often than he was able to play. He later moved to Rhodesia and became a tobacco farmer.
Several South Africans went tobacco farming in those days and their experiences would make a great story. They often went to what was then known as Lourenco Marques and got up to all sorts of mischief. When Ryk and Salty du Rand were room-mates years later it was fascinating listening to them relating various incidents.
After winning the first test against the 1949 All Blacks with the aid of Okey Geffin's place kicking, fellow-selector Jock Kipling and I visited Rhodesia to see how they could cope with the might of New Zealand. They played two matches against them and in the first, Ryk tackled Kiwi captain, Fred Allen, right out of the game. I remember, when the team was selected for the second match, seeing the All Blacks gathered around the notice board and one of them remarking: "Poor Fred - I see Van Schoor is playing again."
Ryk tackled his way into the team. He had wonderful defence, particularly against such great runners as the 1949 All Blacks. As far as Jock and I were concerned, we had to bring Ryk into the South African team. When we sat down to select the team for the second test, Jock and I pushed Ryk, and although the other selectors hadn't seen Ryk play they took our word for it and he was selected. My only concern was that Ryk didn't have good hands, but I said to them: "Leave that to me."
I said to Ryk: "Don't push your hands out to take the ball; let it come to you and keep your far hand flat, and only when the ball has touched that hand, do you bring the other hand into play. If you knock on in this test I'll take a red-hot iron and iron that hand of yours flat."
He never knocked on once and I remember his coming to me after the test; the first thing he said was, "See Doc, it worked. I didn't knock on once!"
Ultimately his hands became an asset, and what is more he never got hurt again - except for when he got concussion against Ireland. You know, its funny how a man who has developed the necessary self-confidence suddenly seems to find inspiration. When Ryk had that he became unstoppable, one of our greatest centres ever.