James “Bullet” Dalton is one of the great characters of South African rugby. The 1.77m, 95kg hooker showed that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog – and Dalton sure loved physical confrontation.
“Bullet” made his Springbok debut off the bench against Argentina in Port Elizabeth on October 8, 1994. His second Test was the classic 1995 World Cup opener against Australia. Sadly, his participation in the World Cup was cut short in the following match against Canada.
Referred to as the Battle of Boet Erasmus, Dalton, as well as Gareth Rees and Rod Snow, received red cards for their parts in the mass punch-up. Both Dalton and Pieter Hendriks were banned for the remainder of the tournament after the match.
Dalton put the disappointment behind him and went on to earn a total of 43 Tests and was a key member of Nick Mallett’s world record equalling Boks of 1997/98. He scored one of the most memorable tries in Springbok history when he was helped over the line against France in Lyon in 1997 and scored the match-winning try against the All Blacks in Durban in 1998.
In a first-class career spanning more than a decade, Dalton played 76 matches for the Lions, eight for the Cats, 16 for the Bulls and 18 for the Falcons. He also represented SA Schools and in 1994 played for the Junior Springboks, SA Barbarians and South Africa A.
Records/Honours:Member of the World Cup winning Springbok squad, 1995Member of the Lions Currie Cup winning squad, 1999