19 Nov 2014 - Gawie Visagie, one of the most popular Springboks ever, died in Durban after a long battle against cancer. He was 59.
Gawie's brother Piet was eight years older and played the last of his 25 Tests in 1971, 10 years before Gawie became a Springbok. A strong and talented player Gawie did not play a Test. He travelled to New Zealand to replace Barry Wolmarans who was said to be injured.
Getting to Greymouth where he joined the team, took Gawie 58 hours - via Johannesburg, London, Zurich, Singapore, Auckland and Christchurch. But Wolmarans recovered and played on, leaving Gawie just three matches on the tour - against Nelson Bays which the Springboks won 83-0 and against North Auckland, which the Springboks won 19-10.
On the USA leg of the tour Gawie played just one match - against Mid West which the Springboks won 46-12.
Gawie was a skilled, strong, all-round rugby player, perhaps too much of a rugby player for his own good as he was not chosen just at scrumhalf. On the SA Barbarians tour, for example he played in four different positions, from fullback to scrumhalf. He was what Oubaas Markötter called a footballer.
In 1979 he was on that remarkable SA Barbarians tour to England, Scotland and Wales with Chick Henderson as the manager and Dougie Dyers as the coach. It was the first racially mixed South African team to tour abroad. They did well on and off the field and their management were impressive in dealing with difficult political questions.
That year Gawie was voted one of the five Promising Players of the Year in South Africa.
The Currie Cup in 1984 was a remarkable tournament for Natal. They were in the B Section and had lost their promotion-relegation match to Northern Free State when they had to play Free State the next week. Free State were second in the A Section, Natal the winners of the B Section. A Free State victory was regarded as a foregone conclusion, so much so that Free State had handed out their allotment of final tickets before they played Natal. But Natal won 26-15. That took them to the Final at Newlands. Gawie was at flyhalf outside Craig Jamieson. In the first half Gawie kicked two dropped goals and Hugh Reece-Edwards a penalty to give Natal a 9-3 lead at half-time. Western Province scored three tries in the second half and won 19-9.
Like Piet, Gawie was originally a Griqua, educated the HTS Kimberley. He played 39 times for Griquas from 1977 to 1980 and then moved to Durban, playing 42 times for Natal from 1981 to 1985. He played his club rugby for Ammasol, Durban Collegians and at the end of his career for Dallas Harlequins.
A third brother, Johan, played wing for Eastern Free State from 1968 to 1974.
Gawie had his own business in Durban - GV Agencies supplying sports equipment and accessories and work wear.
Gabriel Pieter Visagie, was born in Vereeniging on 31 March 1955, his names those of his father. He died at his home in Durban on the morning of 19 November 2014, survived by his wife Janet and their two children.