Jack van der Schyff was undoubtedly badly treated by the selectors. He first came to my attention in Kimberley where I commanded a physical training battalion during the war.
I had seen him playing for Kimberley Boys High against C.B.C. and other schools in the area and I saw him land kick after kick from the halfway line and further out.
One day he walked into my office wanting to join the battalion. I told him: "Jack, you can play for any first league team in Kimberley but I have on my staff a man named Ronnie Ackerman who has played for England. You will not be able to take his place in our first team."
He said he didn't mind; he was quite prepared to play in the second team, so that he could learn; a most wonderful attitude for a youngster. So he played for us and ultimately for Griquas when Ronnie Ackerman retired, and I knew that here was Springbok material.
He played for South Africa eventually and in the fateful first test against the 1955 Lions he missed that vital kick for which he is so unfairly remembered. Had he put over the conversion we would have won; he missed it and we lost 23-22.
That kick ruined him. Not only because he missed it, but because of the unfair criticism levelled at him then, and for years afterwards. It broke him as a player.
He was on the verge of being selected for the 1956 tour to New Zealand when someone had the bright idea that provision had to be made for Basie Viviers as captain, and Jack was left out. We were to miss him because with his prodigious kicking we might well have been able to win the series, even though the dice were loaded against us.
But for that single missed kick, he could well have been one of our most prolific points-scorers ever.