Cast your mind back to the early noughties. The world had let out a collective sigh of relief at having survived Y2K, and people across the globe celebrated the dawn of a new century by downloading more porn and sharing cat gifs.
It was a time of new beginnings, when shows like ‘My Two Dads‘ were considered to be pushing at the boundaries. When rock bands could have names like ‘Hootie and the Blowfish‘…and still be taken seriously.
It was around this time that Butch James arrived on the rugby playing scene.
It’s gonna be a bumpy landing folks.
Granted, there was not much subtlety about a player like Butch. He did exactly what it said on the tin….butch things, man things.
But whatever agility and grace BJ lacked as player, he made up for in spades with his uncompromising and (often) illegal style of play, including his trademark ‘clothesline’ tackling style. When it came to tackling, BJ didn’t just throw caution to the wind….he threw a swinging arm too, and made that wind his bitch.
BJ was a player that the South African rugby-watching public loved to hate. You knew it was just a matter of time before he poleaxed someone…anyone, and got sent off the pitch, with the look of a sulky child. Like a car accident waiting to happen, you just couldn’t take your eyes off him.
So where is our Butch now?
Some say he accidentally clotheslined himself to death in his sleep. Whereas others maintain that he launched (with just a hint of irony) his own fashion brand and line of clothes – called ‘BJs – for real men‘.
I say, who cares. I want to remember Butch for the man he was. The man I will never be.
“Look ma…no hands!”
Remember Robbie Fleck?!
Well neither did I…until I caught a glimpse of him high-fiving Stormers’ coach Alistair Coetzee during their win over the Brumbies this weekend.
From memory Fleck was a fairly decent, if not exciting, centre for the Boks back when grunge music was still popular. His slightly cocky rich-kid demeanour always made me think he’d look more at home in an episode of Beverley Hills 90210, rather than chasing a ball around a rugby field with a bunch of plebs.
See what I mean…
Surf’s up…plus daddy’s shares in Indonesian palm-oil are looking good too! Awesome.
You can imagine my surprise to find that Robbie has not gone on to be the MD of a trendy new media start-up company, and is in fact the assistant back-line coach for the Stormers. This is probably popular knowledge among most Super Rugby aficionados, but it came as a shock to me. I had higher hopes for young Robbie.
I can only assume it’s been a bit of a shock for him too, cos he’s gone completely grey. When did that happen?! Not that it’s a bad thing, I mean look at Richard Gere and that fellow Gandalf. They’ve done pretty well for themselves!
Good for you Flecky…no need to hide your true colours.
You may want to try a touch of sunblock from time to time though…
Robbie ‘Salt ‘n Peppa’ Fleck
Zinzan – you’ll always be a legend in South Africa because of your audacious drop-goal, but I’m not sure how to intepret this Twitter bio:
Zinzan proving that real New Zealander's can be knobs too - not just the supporters at Newlands.
Is this tribute to the greatness of the Bok team in that “we only hate players and teams who are truly epic” vibe, or are you still gutted that the closest your nation has gotten to the Webb Ellis trophy since 1987 is the day when you watched Francois Pienaar carrying it past you in the tunnel at Ellis Park?
It must sting just a little knowing that had you scored one more point on that fateful day you might have had Clint Eastwood making a moving about you starring Matt Damon.
Geez dude… it was one drop goal, even Joel Stransky doesn’t go on about his that much. Seriously, get a life.
If you don’t remember Michael Brial, your life is better off for it and you can go on with your life thinking all is well and good in the world. But if you do…it’s most likely as a result of the Aussie back row’s outrageous assault on Frank Bunce during the 1996 Bledisloe Cup match. The fact that the phrase ‘I’ll Brial you!’ has entered into common parlance says it all really – that his rugby playing career will be singularly remembered for an on-field act putting him proudly in the Rugby Hall of ball sacks.
What was so surprising about his actions that day was the seemingly unprovoked nature of them. It was like Brial suddenly decided that Bunce was the cause of all the world’s ills – so laid into him to teach him a lesson on behalf of all humanity. In Brial’s defence – his wild swings were about as effective as Col Gaddafi’s publicist, with Bunce looking about as troubled as a walrus on a sinking ship.
What is particularly amusing about the whole debacle is seeing the Aussie pleading his innocence to the ref (who subsequently lets him off with a slap on the bum and a stern word of warning!), then running back to his team mates with his thumbs up and grinning like a hyena that’s just stumbled in to a chicken coop.
So where is the Wallaby ‘wild man’ now? It’s been surprisingly tricky to track him down, and though we may be lacking a few things here at Big Daddy HQ (journalistic integrity, acceptable levels of body hygiene?) perseverance in the line of duty is not one of them! It turns out he has put his fighting days behind him and swapped his togs for a suit and tie – moving into the world of corporate finance. He’s obviously doing quite well for himself too – getting out most weekends for a spot of line-fishing. Let’s hope Frank Bunce isn’t thinking of taking any swims anytime soon…
Who's your daddy - Brial that's who.
When Jonah Lomu first made an appearance on the world rugby stage – they had to rebuild it with steel reinforced concrete – such was the size of the man. Some say that widescreen TV was invented just so that we could see more than his flexed bicep in one shot. There’s even a rumour that along with the Great Wall of China Jonah is the only ‘man made’ feature visible from space – in which case the astronauts on the Mir space station must have enjoyed watching him storm on to the scene in 1994, becoming the first truly worldwide rugby superstar.
He left an indelible mark on the 1995 World Cup, not to mention the one on Mike Catt’s face when he used it as a doormat on the way to scoring four tries in the semi-final against England. This might have led to England Captain Will Carling’s famous description of him as ‘a freak…and the sooner he goes away the better.’ His words – not mine.
Jonah gives Mike Catt a taste of his studs (Getty Images)
So where is the big man now? Well luckily there’s no whale big enough to swallow this Jonah and his disappearance is down to the fact that he retired from rugby in 2007 – though returned to the game to play for a French club in 2009. He’s even turned his hand to amateur bodybuilding, having won a competition in Wellington by eating his opponents whole and using their bones to pick his teeth. He is also set to play an ambassadorial role for the All Blacks in this year’s world cup. We can only assume this will involve being part of the welcoming committee for the England team. Jonah needs his boots cleaned.
Jonah shows off his new pair of budgie smugglers
Oh Cabous, Cabous, where art thou Cabous?! How could we forget (even if we wanted to) the flowing mane and Impala-like stride of the former Natal Sharks and Springbok speedster? Cabous played the game back in a time when it was still okay to ruck a man’s face and shake his hand after the match, a time when the word ‘flamboyant’ in SA rugby was defined by having all your own teeth or ordering a salad with the rack ‘o’ ribs at the local streak-ranch.
Cabous certainly stood out from the rest of the pack, even if that did mean looking like a Thundercat. No disrespect intended – the man could play rugby and the stats back that up. He holds the record as being the most capped player for the Sharks in his stint there between 1992 and 1998, as well as scoring the most tries in one season. Go you good thing!
So where the hell is he now? A recent survey revealed that 60% of people believe that he went on to establish a successful hair salon and brand of ‘wet look’ hair products. The remaining 40% think he is soon to be making an appearance on the big screen in the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean movie – as a rum smuggler with an eye for the ladies.
Nick Slaughter from Tropical Heat
It turns out Cabous has in fact relocated to the tropical isle of Mauritius, where, in addition to perfecting his all-over tan, he has opened and runs a popular beach bar. Oh yes, you read that right my friend – and I know what you’re thinking…..why does this sound so familiar? Maybe because we knew all along he would eventually become Nick Slaughter from Tropical Heat.
Cabous with 'lady friend'