Dougie Heymans, the man Os du Randt described as the toughest prop he ever faced, has passed away. RIP. This is a tribute to the original Cheetahs and Free State ‘Os’, writes Mark Keohane.
The Heymans family were struck with tragedy earlier this year when daugther Liane was paralysed in a swimming accident and on Monday, 14th June, news broke of Heymans’ passing.
The toughest man of Cheetahs rugby – and they have produced many – has also succumbed to the unrelenting and deadly Covid Virus.
All the props I interviewed from Heymans’s era all spoke with awe and with respect of the scrumming power of Dougie Heymans. It always surprised the international media when they would interview a Springboks prop about his toughest opponent, the consistent line would be: ‘I don’t know if you okes will know him because he didn’t play Test rugby, but there is an oke in South Africa called Dougie Heymans …’
Legendary Springbok prop Os du Randt in a recent article on SA Rugby Mag, had this to say when appearing on Springboks Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger’s chat show, Use It or Lose.
‘As a front-rower, I will always back Dougie Heymans. I cut my teeth playing for a Free State ‘B’ side against him,’ Du Randt explained. ‘In those days, we didn’t gym, so for all your power work, you had to do a hundred scrums, which is unheard of these days. I remember [late former Springbok, EP and Free State coach] Nelie Smith bringing us those little [shoulder] pads that women wore inside their jackets.
‘We had to stitch them in with a needle and thread. When you scrummed, the blood would literally come out of your shoulders. You did a lot of hard work there. I can still remember going into a scrum thinking, right Dougie, I’ve got you now.
‘And then you start hearing somebody groaning or can’t breathe, and then you suddenly realise, Os, that’s you. He just wiggled out of that.’
Du Randt said without doubt there wasn’t a tougher scrum opponent than Heymans.
And he would get many an AMEN chorus from any South African prop from that era.
Heymans, who played 154 matches for Free State/Cheetahs was 48 years old.
*Heymans held the position as Assistant Director of Sport at the University of Free State.