HISTORY OF THE PRETORIA HARLEQUIN CLUB
In 1902 when peace was declared there was a need to re-establish the Civil Service of the Transvaal Republic. Lord
Milner, the British High Commissioner for the Free State and Transvaal Republic made arrangements for young civil
servants from Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban to move up to Pretoria as well as recruiting people from overseas..
Many of these young men played rugby for established rugby clubs like Hamilton’s, Villagers and Gardens in Cape Town
with Crusaders in Port Elizabeth also contributing players
Once in Pretoria, the young men decided on establishing a rugby club naming it “The Civil Service Rugby Club’ selecting a
white jersey with the letters C. S. F.C. worked in red on the left breast, blue shorts and blue stockings. There is a
photograph of this team in the hallway of the Main Club Building. Many of the players as well as the officials played a
major role in the development of Pretoria In 1902 the club only fielded one side and the captain was P. Henkel. The first
President of the club was Sir Richard Solomon, at that time Attorney General of the Transvaal Republic. In this history
details of the players will be included in the main text, whilst the officials will have a separate section. A player in the first
year was Hugh Ferris, who had won four international caps for Ireland before arriving in Pretoria. A year later, whilst a
member of the C.S.A.R Club he played for Transvaal and was selected for the third rugby test against Mark Morison’s
It is unfortunate that a large proportion of the early club records were lost during the First World War, but there is
enough evidence available today to piece together the early history of the Club. From the membership card of 1902 we
can establish that the first club rugby ground was in Jeppe Street, Sunnyside next door to the Trevenna Brewery. Some
might say that it was a sound foundation for the club’s future. In today’s terms the site was very close to where Sunny
Park Shopping Centre stands. However it was not their home for long, for by 1910 when plans were made to site Pretoria
Country Club in Magnolia Dell, the Harlequin ground is shown just southwest of the Eastern Sports Grounds, which of
course became the renowned Loftus Versfeld. Again in present day terms the ground would have been where Afrikaans
Hoer Meisies Skool is sited today. Other matches were played at Burgers Park, Berea Park and the Caledonian Stadium.
The players themselves, being responsible for the preparation of the grounds.
The first fixture under the auspices of the Transvaal Rugby Union was played on the 10th May 1902 against Wanderer’s at
their grounds in Johannesburg. From the league of that era only Wanderers, Pirates, Diggers and Pretoria survive along
with us as a club
By the end of the season the players realized that to survive they had to open up membership, which they did with J.E. C.
Partridge, H.G. Reid and S. A. Townsend coming on board. Partridge known, as “Bird” was an officer in the Welsh
Guards stationed in Pretoria and was our first Springbok in 1903. H. G. Reid toured the United Kingdom in 1906 as a
member of Paul Roos’s Springboks, whilst Townsend was an official reserve for that side. All three were forwards and by
1910 they had all captained the Transvaal provincial rugby side. Going into some more detail on these gentlemen, by
1906 Partridge had returned to the UK and played for the Kent county side against the 1906/07 Springboks. Some 45
years later when Basil Kenyon’s side were touring, the non players that day were astounded to see an elderly gentlemen
sporting a Springbok tie sitting a number of rows behind them. They asked Danie Craven, who was their Assistant
Manager who he was. Craven took the opportunity to introduce himself and it was Bird Partridge. In that touring side of
1951/52 there were three members of Pretoria Harlequin Club, Jaap Bekker, Willem Barnard and Fonnie Du Toit. After
the game they had the opportunity of meeting ‘Bird’ Partridge. It is recorded that the 1951/52 Pretoria Harlequin
members were elected honorary members of London Harlequins.
H. G. Reid, who was known as Bert, played sixteen matches for the Springboks on the 1906/07 tour of the United
Kingdom and France under the captaincy of Paul Roos. Bert later married General Louis Botha’s daughter and changed his
name to Botha-Reid.
S. A. Townsend, after his playing days were over, involved himself in the administration of the sport and ended up being
a national selector from 1921 to 1932. During this period the Springboks never lost a test series. Some years ago the
family, who now farm in the Zastron area of the Free State contacted the club for information on Townsend. The occasion
was the fortieth birthday of a great grandson.
At the end of the 1902 season the players felt that restricting the membership solely to civil servants would restrict the
growth and playing success of the Club. A special general meeting was called where it was proposed by R.Burns and
seconded by ‘Bird’ Partridge that an approach be made to London Harlequins to be allowed to use the name and the club
colours of the London club, who were founder members of the English Rugby Union. This was readily agreed to. R.
Burns, a senior civil servant, being recently appointed to the position of the Accountant General of the Transvaal republic
was one of the six founder members who were granted life membership
1903 brought about the start of the Pretoria Harlequin Club. That season two other Pretoria clubs joined the Transvaal
league. C.S.A.R, which was the local railway club, and the New Zealanders. This latter club was made up of New
Zealanders who were sent to this country to fight in the Anglo-Boer War. Many stayed on and the club was active for a
number of years sporting the silver fern on their jersey. The same situation happened in Durban, where the New
Zealanders had even greater success, winning the equivalent of the Carlton Club. In 1903 South Africa had a visit from
what today would be called a British Lions Tour. The fixture against the town of Pretoria was played on the 11th August
and the side was made up of seven Quins, six New Zealanders and two players from the Pretoria Club. The score was 15-
3 in favour of the visitors. Partridge being the captain of the local side
There has always been keen debate which sporting section of the club donned the colours first. In those days Hockey was
played from January to March, with rugby following on as winter arrived. It is known that many rugby players of the time
used hockey as means of getting fit. History does record the start of the Hockey Club as 1904 so that it is likely this is but
At Pretoria Sub-Union level 1903 was an important year as well. History records that there was a bar in the centre of
town known as the Carlton, and situated were FNB Building stands today on the corner of Church Square and Church
Street, was well patronized by the rugby playing community of the day. Amongst the bottles on the shelves stood a
trophy of ornamental value only. At one stage the players showed an interest in the trophy but the barman was unable to
satisfy their curiosity as to the origin. One of the players then asked whether they could have it as a competition trophy.
The owner of the bar, probably Arthur Lezard agreed. The players accepted the cup and promptly dubbed it the Carlton
Cup. Legend also has it that the administrators of the time were not impressed that the cup carried the name of a bar, but
they could nothing about it. So the cup became the most coveted club trophy in Northern Transvaal rugby.
At Club level 1903 also saw a change in Presidency, in that T. B. Herold took over the reins. An interesting man, whom
for some reason is not well known in South African rugby history, His details are recorded in the section reserved for the
Administrator’s, A quarter of a century later he was still involved with the Club.
The following year, 1904, the club had it’s first success, winning the Transvaal seven-a-side tournament. In 1905 and
1907 they won the Carlton Cup and their next achievement was winning the 1908 Lilienfield knockout competition. A feat
repeated in 1911.
Reverting to the year 1904, that is the year that Gerald Pilditch became a playing member of the rugby club. So much for
the club being known as the English club of Pretoria. For the players of the day decided that no one with Christian name
of Gerald could be a rugby player, so they nicknamed him ‘Gert’. This was how he was known as until the outbreak of the
First World War, when he joined the forerunner of the Royal Air Force as a pilot and was attached to an Australian
squadron. The Australians could not pronounce the name of Gert. The closest they could get was ‘Shirt’ - a name that he
was known by for the rest of his life. He was a Club member for over fifty years holding every position there was to be
had. He was also a prime mover in the 1930’s of gaining the right for the Pretoria Clubs to break away from the
Transvaal Rugby Union to form what became Northern Transvaal. He laid the foundation stone to the Main Clubhouse. He
also served as a City Councillor and has the athletics stadium in Pretoria West named after him
1910 saw another British Lions side out in this country under the captaincy of Tommy Smyth. Pretoria still fell under the
auspices of the Transvaal Rugby Union and was to do so for another twenty-eight years. Whilst only two club members
made the provincial side, which beat the tourists 27 - 3 and captained by a Quin, H. G. Reid, the combined Pretoria side
contained eleven Quins. The other four players were from the Pretoria Rugby Club. The tourists ran out comfortable
winners 17 - 0. In that year no local Pretoria player made the Springboks.
Turning now to Cricket, the United Banks Cricket Club started in 1905. One clever move on their part was to appoint
every Bank Manager in Pretoria as a Vice-President of the Club. By 1910, the exact date is not clear they had become part
of the Harlequin Club. Where they played their matches and who were the star players is not recorded. However George
Bourke who owned the Pretoria Coal Company, was a keen supporter of the Cricket Club and sponsored overseas
professionals to coach and play in the local Pretoria Leagues
Back to rugby now and the club whilst gaining a well-deserved reputation for attacking running rugby had no success in
winning the league. Billy Millar from Western Province captained the second Springbok side to the United Kingdom in
1912/13 but the club had no representation in the national side. In fact there was only one player who was selected from
Pretoria and that was S. N. Cronje, a forward from the Pretoria club, who only played in seven of the twenty seven
matches on tour and was not selected for any of the test matches. Two major developments occurred in the season prior
to the First World War. Up until then all major matches were played either at Berea Park or The Caledonian Stadium.
However in that year ground was set aside in what was then called the Eastern Sports Ground (which of course grew into
the complex we now know as Loftus Versfeld) and that a start was made in the grassing of the playing fields. The club
holds a unique record in that we recorded the first win by a club side on the new grounds with a 6-0 victory over the
Mines School club side.
In the first ten years of the rugby clubs existence the playing strength had grown considerably and six members gained
provincial colours for Transvaal, two of them becoming Springboks. In 1914 with the outbreak of the First World War 95
percent of the members enlisted and were on active service. At that stage there were 142 members of the club but
unfortunately no records are available of those members who lost their lives in the Great War..
The repercussions were felt for nearly four years after peace was declared and the whole club was involved in a
rebuilding process. Also the gold mining on the Reef was expanding rapidly and with the shortage of job opportunities
many talented players left Pretoria to build their careers in that field. In 1922 the tide turned and it would lead to another
golden age for the club. It was the year it would appear that the club introduced patronage as a means of obtaining
financial support. A little later this aspect will be dealt with in more detail but for the period leading up to 1938 the club
was very successful, not only in rugby, but also on other sporting fields.
In 1924, four players represented combined Pretoria Clubs against the British Lions. Four years later against the All
Blacks eight players represented the Combined side. That season, 1928 must rank as the peak period as far as club
results are concerned, achieved through an intense team-building exercise. The Club entered teams in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd,
4th, 5th and under 19 leagues, and the club created what must be a record by heading the log in all those competitions.
The six teams played a total of 90 matches, won 80, drew 6 and lost 4. In that season eleven players received provincial
colours and four became or were later to be Springboks. They were Jack van Druten, Jack Dobie, Manie Geere and Bert
Kipling. In addition Nic Bosman, who in 1924 was playing out of Pretoria Rugby Club when gaining international
honours, had joined Harlequins.
In the same year Transvaal rugby moved from the old Wanderers Ground in the CBD to Ellis Park. The club was given the
honour of playing the main match on the new ground playing against Wits University, winning 24-20 after being down 0-
20 at half time. Over many years the club teams have provided their supporters with similar nervous experiences.
Two other interesting characters of that side was Joe Simpson, the fly half who eighteen years earlier in 1910 played
against the touring British Lions for the combined Pretoria side. Joe was also capped for Transvaal in 1922. The other
was Owen Gush, who was capped two year later by Transvaal and who ended his business career as Chief Magistrate of
Johannesburg. Up until the late 1980,s Owen was a regular visitor to the Club on major match days at Loftus.
A medical man, Dr Jack van Druten, was the man largely responsible for the success of the club during this period. After
studying at Cape Town and later overseas, when he was elected a member of the Barbarian Rugby Club, he returned to
Pretoria and joined the Club, a membership to last close on seventy years. An eighth man he was selected as a Springbok
in 1924 and 1928 playing eight tests in all. Through his speed, mobility and strong cover defence he was an outstanding
player. Off the field being an international and also having played for both London Harlequins and the Barbarians he did
much to build the brand of the Pretoria Harlequin Club locally, nationally and internationally.
After retirement he served the club, as selector and chairman whilst for the province being honorary medical officer for
many years as well as being a provincial selector. Later he served as President of both the Rugby Club and the Main Club.
He passed away in the late 1980’s.
In the early 1920’s the club introduced a position of “Patron’. A role which today without the information available to the
thought pattern at the time is difficult to describe other then that the Patrons were all people of considerable influence,
Possibly providing in addition to material assistance financial assistance as well. From a program, in the possession of the
Club, of the Annual Club Ball General Barry Hertzog and General Jannie Smuts, at the time Prime Minister and Deputy
Prime Minister head the list. History reflects that between the two of them they led the country from 1919 to 1948 as
Prime Ministers. The other Patrons of that period are listed in the later section of Club Administrators. Why the position
was dropped, after the Second World War, one would need to establish from the committee of the day. Hindsight tells us
that it was not the best decision. General Smuts, in fact served a term as President of the Club.
Also in the 1920’s. there was a huge debate national debate on South Africa introducing it’s own flag. This was a very
emotive issue oat the time and the editor of the ‘Pretoria News”, who was Vere Stent took an active role in attending
meetings and stirring up the audience. It is recorded in his biography that he was always by a bodyguard of stalwart
rugby players from the Harlequins Rugby Football Club.
Harlequins won the Pirate Grand Challenge again in 1930. Prominent amongst the forwards of that year were Ferdie
Bergh, Bert Kipling and Manie Geere. All three were to tour the UK with Bennie Osier’s Springboks in 1931/32.whilst
Kipling and Geere were to play all five tests against the 1933 touring Wallabies. Ferdie Bergh, also went to New Zealand
with the highly successful Springboks under the captaincy of Philip Nel. For many years this side was recognized as the
best rugby side ever to leave New Zealand. Thirty years later, Ferdie Bergh was the Manager of the very successful
1960/61 Springboks in the UK.
Accompanying Bergh on the New Zealand was Roger Sheriff, another lock forward and a member of the club from 1935
to 1942, captaining the club four those last four years. Tours in the 1930’s meant that the mode of travel was by sea,
taking over three weeks to get to Australasia. The ships were not equipped with Gym facilities so the tight forwards all
men with huge appetites, and eating three meals a day had a problem. To overcome this, the ship being a coal-burning
vessel, the big men signed on as unpaid stokers in the engine room shoveling coal.
The following year, in 1938, the Northern Transvaal Union was formed. The legendary Danie Craven captained the side
and in the match against the touring British Lions, four Quins were selected - all forwards. Bergh, Sheriff, Uys and
Tindale. The tourist’s won the match 20 points to 12.
The first team hooker for nearly the whole of the 1930’s was another delightful club stalwart, Edgar Goldblum. He kept a
lifelong interest in the club and all it’s activities. He delighted in telling the story of being the smallest and lightest
member of the side at 132lbs but having three or four Springboks in the pack made his job so easy. He also delighted in
reminiscing on the off the field social activities. His favourite story, being how they would wend their way home from
Johannesburg in the early hours of the morning. Of course the road system was completely different in those days but
somehow the route always led to a little pub, owned by an old Jewish man, in what is today known as Kaalfontein, near
Modderfontein. Waking the owner and demanding that he open up and serve them drinks. However the owner enjoyed a
party and would end up dancing on the counter singing Yiddish songs.
Another story, which he enjoyed telling against himself, was that after his playing days he became a referee reaching
Carlton Cup status. He was awarding the local derby between the club and Pretoria Rugby Club, which has always
generated fierce rivalry. The match was on Loftus ‘B’ with the spectators packed in on the western side of the ground. The
game was going well until he blew for a scrum in front of all the spectators. Instead of saying ‘Quins’ ball he said ‘our
ball’. Pandemonium broke out.
Coming to the end of the 1930’s it is perhaps time to reflect on the off the field influence that the Club had on the city of
Pretoria. The first event was the Annual Club Ball held at Berea Park. This was the social highlight attended by the
Patrons as well as the members and dominating the social pages of the local press. The next was the Annual Golf Day,
which was started in 1933. . This was in the days before sponsored Golf Days were the norm and businesses made every
effort to be part of the Day.
Another interesting tradition of the day was when a club member married, the club presented the lucky couple, with a tea
set in virtual club colours. There is a set on display in the trophy cabinet in the main clubhouse
With no clubhouse members in the 1930’s frequented the Charlton, Union Hotel and Hotel Hellenic pubs for after match
get togethers. The Hotel Hellenic still being popular with the members until the early 1950’s when the Clubhouse was
completed in Totius Street, Groenkloof.
The outbreak of the Second World War led to most of our members enlisting in the armed forces, as was the case 25
years before The city itself benefited in that many outstanding players, both Springbok, Provincial, Welsh and Australian
players were posted to the military in Pretoria. and Provincial rugby continued throughout the war. In fact one Welsh and
also one Australian International player were selected for the provincial side during the war.
With the South African forces been stationed mainly in North and East Africa and later Italy there were many
opportunities for all the sporting codes, even in the Prisoner-of-war camps in Germany and Poland. The result being that
the clubs recovered muck quicker and in fact in 1946 Northern Transvaal were to win the Currie Cup for the first time.
Three club members represented the province in that year, Fonnie Du Toit, N. Bucke and Werner Ackerman. The latter to
receive even greater fame in the business world introducing the Nissan motor vehicle range to this country and
establishing the motor plant to construct. Werner was also at one stage married to the famous singer Mimi Coetzer.
It is known that the Hockey section also started in 1904. In fact it was the start of the sport in Pretoria. The gentleman
responsible was Mr. C. P. Batho, was the moving spirit. He obtained vacant ground behind the Trevenna Brewery in
Sunnyside. This would have been next door to the first club rugby ground and possibly the reason for the close liaison
and the legend mentioned earlier between the sections. Mr. Batho, five years later introduced Ladies hockey to Pretoria as
Success in the leagues
National Club Championships
September Hockey Festival
Effect of Astro turf and centralization of the sport
Lack of Provincial Union Support
As mentioned previously this section started in 1905 as the United Banks Cricket Club. When it became the Harlequin
Cricket Club is not known
Formation of separate Union in 1938
Role of Johnny Lindsay as a player, Administrator and National selector.
Period 1919 to 1938
Where was league cricket played in Pretoria
Success in Transvaal Leagues
Inter Racial cricket
National Club Championships
The Harlequin Cup as Fist league Trophy
M.C.C. Memorabilia 1948 -49.
Start in 1956
National Club Champions
OTHER NOW DEFUNCT SECTIONS
ROLE OF MAIN CLUB SINCE 1952
ADMINSTRATORS AND PATRONS
SIR RICHARD SOLOMON - Attorney General. One of three brothers, all raised in Cape Town, who came to the
Transvaal and made a name for themselves in either politics, law or education. All three were knighted for their services
to the Colony.
Sir Richard was the politician in family, having served in the Cape Legislative Assembly before accepting the role of
Attorney General of the Transvaal. He also served a short period as Acting Governor as well as Lt- Governor to Lord
Selborne. Defeated by Percy Fitzpatrick in Pretoria South-Central in the 1907 election. Sir Richard was appointed Agent-
General for the Transvaal in London 1907 - 1910. During this period he assisted in drafting the Peace Treaty of
Vereeniging, which brought to an end the Anglo-Boer war. After Union he was the South African High Commissioner
until his death in 1913. In 1902 he was elected as a member of the club.1902, whilst the club still functioned under the
name of the Civil Service Rugby Club he became the first President serving for a year in that role Awarded the K.CB. In
1901 and the G.C.M.G in 1911. Richard Street in Hatfield was possibly named after him. In 1910 he was appointed the
first High Commissioner for this country in London.
T. B. HEROLD
In 1902 he was elected as one of the Club Vice-Presidents, a role he was still occupying 22 years later. 1903 he became
the second President of the Club. Sadly a forgotten name in South African rugby. A Civil Servant from Cape Town, he
was a founder member there of the Gardens Rugby Club. There are two reasons why his name should be remembered.
The first was that he was the driving force on the Western Province committee to persuade the Union to purchase the
ground and develop Newlands Rugby Ground. For this he was honoured with the first Life Membership of the Union. His
second claim to fame is that it was on his suggestion in 1890 to the Union that an invitation was issued to the English
Rugby Union to tour this Country in 1891. After standing down from the presidency he continued to be involved with the
Club being listed as a Patron in 1928.
SIR PERCY FITZPATRICK
Today sadly remembered for writing the classic book “Jock of the Bushveld’. It was the eleventh book he wrote. He was
however much more involved then that. Being also a politician representing the Pretoria East constituency in the Union
Parliament for over ten years. This is probably the reason why he became the third president of the Club. In politics it is
interesting that he was responsible for the House adopting the 16th of December as a public holiday. Another reason for
his involvement with the club was that he was a keen sportsman in his youth. He was part of a group of young people
who built the first tennis court in Cape Town. He played cricket for Barberton in the first inter-town challenge tournament
between that town, Pretoria and Potchestroom. It being the equivalent to today’s provincial cricket tournament. . He was
also responsible for introducing trout into the Transvaal. A businessman who spent much of his working life with the
Corner House Group, which controlled Rand Mines. Today this company part of the Barlow Rand Group. During his
business life he was responsible for the establishment of Hume Pipes in this country. In 1902 he was elected President of
the Chamber of Mines. Previously in 1896 he was secretary of the Reform Committee and part of the Jameson Raid, for
which he spent a spell in prison. He was the founder of the Johannesburg Zoo, which was a tribute to his boss at Corner
House. The zoo still carries the name of that man, Hermann Eckstein, a pioneer of Johannesburg. During the First World
War he bought land in the Sundays River Valley and was responsible for developing the area into the Citrus growing area
it is today. He brought in experts, drafted regulations covering the export of citrus and helped found the South African
Fruit Exchange and Citrus Board After the War he was responsible the international acceptance of the minutes silence at
the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. In addition he led the nation in building the Delville Wood
Memorial in France, site of a major battle were the South African Brigade suffered heavy losses. Out of the 121 officers
and 3032 men, the uninjured survivors were 5 officers and 750 men. No doubt some of the casualties were club
members. A duplicate of this memorial stands next to the Union Buildings.
Originally from England, educated at Oxford University. Settled in Port Elizabeth were he was a Vice-President of the
Crusaders Rugby Club, a position he also held with our club. In his playing days he captained Eastern Province but after
his arrival in Pretoria he concentrated on administration. Played a leading role in the foundation of the Pretoria Rugby
Referees Society. He assisted in the establishment of the first rugby grass fields in the Transvaal. Career wise in 1930 he
was appointed Commissioner of Customs and Excise for the Union Government attending four international conferences
as well as being Technical Advisor on Customs matters.
Came to Pretoria with his parents. Joined the Surveyor-general’s office. He assisted in selecting the site of Johannesburg.
The city, was in fact, being named after him. Appointed as the Surveyor General of the Transvaal in 1895. He was also
responsible for laying out the city of Benoni, a biblical name meaning “son of my sorrow’, given because of the difficulty
experienced in surveying the ground. Johan worked in close conjunction with the Portuguese authorities in defining the
border between the Transvaal and Mozambique. He fought with the Republican forces in the Anglo Boer War. In 1907
Johan Rissik was appointed Minister of Lands and of Native Affairs in the Transvaal Cabinet of Louis Botha. Was
appointed the First Administrator of the Transvaal in 1910.. In his role as Administrator he performed the opening
ceremony of the Pretoria Country Club on the 8th October 1910. He was a very successful farmer, who pioneered Ostrich
farming in this country. Places in Pretoria bearing his name are Rissik Railway Station and Post Office near the University
of Pretoria. Rissik House at Pretoria Boys High School, Johan Rissik Drive in Waterkloof Ridge, Rissik Street in Sunnyside
and Johann Street in Arcadia. His name is also found in Johannesburg and in many other towns of the old Transvaal. He
filled the role of a Vice-President of Pretoria Harlequins in 1925
He was appointed, by Lord Milner, as Collector of Customs. He had previously worked with Milner. He had spent twenty
years in the Cape Civil Service before arriving in Pretoria. In his role, as Collector of Customs, he was an official member
of the Transvaal Legislative Council. By 1911 in the new Union government he was the Secretary of Commerce and
Industry. In his youth at the Cape, he was a keen sportsman and retained this interest on arrival by becoming a founder
Vice- President of t Harlequin Rugby Club. His son, also J. W. Honey, was a fine rugby player represented Transvaal in
1908, as a forward, whilst playing for the club.
A patron of the club in 1928. Businessman. He qualified as an Accountant and then became an Auctioneer as well as
General Agent. He also qualified as a land surveyor, for he surveyed the farm ‘Onderstepoort’ at the time the decision was
taken to establish the Animal Research Station there. Later he was appointed the Deputy Sheriff of Pretoria. A position his
family held for three generations, his grandson, also Joe Dyer, was a member of the Club for many years, passing away
in the late 1990’s. A keen racing man, he was also a steward of the Pretoria Racing Club. The British Military started the
Racing Club after the occupation of Pretoria. In Hillcrest in the Eastern Suburbs, an area developed by the Dyer family,
there is a Dyer Street, which is named after him. There is also a street in Erasmusrand carrying the family name.
Attorney. and influential Businessman. His family were amongst the earliest settlers in the Pretoria area. He was born in
1862, when the town was only seven years old. Served in the Anglo-Boer War as a member of the Transvaal Ambulance
Corps. Captured by the British and held as a P.O.W. on a farm in the Colesburg District. He lived until 1937 and was to
see much of the growth from a small village to a city. He was also heavily involved in the early development of
Johannesburg, being a partner in a firm that laid out and developed the suburbs of Doornfontein, Bezuidenhout Valley,
Troyeville, Fairview and Bramley. He was a foundation member of the famed Wanderers Club At one stage Café Riche
building on Church Square was called Van Boeschoten Building. Served on the Zoo Administration Committee as well as
being Chairman of the Louis Botha Children’s Home which was founded in 1918 to help those children orphaned in the
Influenza epidemic. A City Councillor for many years, serving as Mayor in 1905 and again from 1908 to 1911. He
received his knighthood in the honours list of in 1910. Van Boeschoten Street in Sunnyside is named after him. He was
also one of the founding members of the Rand Club. In 1925 he was serving as one of the Patrons and Vice- President of
the Harlequin Club.
V. H. NESER
Served for many years as a patron of the Club. Known to all members as ‘Boet’, was born in Klerksdorp and educated in
Potchestroom. He then studied at South African College in Cape Town, gaining a B.A. degree. He had interrupted his
studies, at the outbreak of the First World War when he enlisted. He was awarded the Military Cross for bravery during this
On his return to this country he was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and proceeded to Oxford, distinguishing himself both
academically and in Sport. He studied first for a B.A. Honours and then a B.C.L. degree. He obtained first class passes in
both. His studies did not prevent him being awarded “Blues” for Rugby, Cricket and Boxing. In his first year he played as a
flank, in the second due to injuries as Fly Half. Arriving back in South Africa he kept up his interest in Rugby, gaining a
national reputation as a referee, and had the unique experience of being chosen to handle all four tests against the 1924
visiting All Blacks. In all he refereed the Springboks in nine test matches - a record, which in the light of present rulings of
neutral International referees is unlikely to be broken.
He was also an outstanding wicketkeeper and captained South Africa in a five test series in 1924/25 against Lord S. P.
Joel’s English touring side. Apart fro being one of our outstanding sportsman he was a very successful advocate, building
up a large practice at the Bar. In 1943 he was elevated to the Bench of the Transvaal Supreme Court. A well-respected
and popular judge with both the Bench and the Bar. He was known throughout the legal and sporting community in
South Africa by his nickname ‘ Boet’
His son, Dan, a former Chairman of both Rugby and the Main Club passed away in 2011
J.A.VAN DER BYL
Another long serving Patron, originally from the Bredasdorp area Bought the farm at Irene in 1895, established by
another Pretoria pioneer Alois Nellmapius. This he did on the advice of Percy Fitzpatrick, a fellow club member, who had
persuaded him to move up to the Transvaal. The Irene Concentration Camp was laid out on part of the farm in 1900.
After the war, in 1902 he laid out the township of Irene. The farm remains in the family to this day and we have had
family members as members of this club for nearly 110 years. In 1925 he was also serving as one of the Vice-Presidents
of the Harlequin Club.
Served as both a Vice-President and a Patron of the Club. Born in the Orkney Islands, but raised in Scotland where he
qualified as an Accountant. Came to this country having been appointed Accountant to the South African Loan, Mortgage
and Mercantile Agency. A year later he established his own business. An enthusiastic sportsman, in his young days,
Baikie played soccer as well as being involved with athletics. As he got older he took up Golf and was a foundation
member of the Pretoria Golf Club, now commonly known as “the West”. Still later he became Vice-President of Pretoria
Harriers as well as in 1925 Pretoria Harlequin Rugby Club. Three years later his name appears on the list of Patrons of
the Club. He was also foundation member and vice-president of the Caledonian Society, Also the Caledonian Tennis Club
and the Pretoria City Bowling Club. He was awarded his Springbok colours for this sport in 1926 being a member of the
South African National side, which toured Great Britain that year.
Better known to all as Loftus Versveld. A man who holds a unique record, which will stand forever in the South African
rugby world. He and his brothers were founder members of Hamilton’s in Cape Town. During that time the club were the
first winners of the Grand Challenge trophy. Moving to the Eastern Cape he founded the Union Club in Uitenhage. There
he achieved the same result, the club winning the main trophy in its first year. Arriving in Pretoria he was involved with
the formation of Pretoria rugby club, then the only club in the city. As with the other two clubs, in the first year of
competing in the Pirates Grand Challenge, Pretoria won the league. From 1902 He badgered the City Council to provide
facilities for the sport. It took him ten years to obtain council agreement and another three years before the gravel
Eastern Suburbs sports grounds were laid out. It was only in 1918 that he persuaded the local players of the need to
grass the fields to bring them up to the same standard as the fields of the Western and Eastern Cape. For his efforts he
was honoured, after his death in 1932, with the naming of the grounds after him. He died whilst watching a game of
rugby at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
A man devoted to rugby. Both a Vice-President and Patron of the Club. He was chairman of Pretoria Rugby Club. The
Sub-Union representative on the Transvaal Rugby Union. Interestingly enough he remained opposed to the break away
of Northern Transvaal right up to the split in 1938. By that time he had also serving as M. P. C. for Pretoria East and later
as the M. P. Nevertheless he was appointed the first Life Vice-President of the new Union serving in that position for 29
years before passing away. He played a major role in the development of schools rugby in the province.
Arrived in Pretoria from Barberton. He opened a gents outfitting business, which operated in the CBD for over 60 years
His involvement with the Club might have been because his firm were the stockists of the Club colours. Be that as it may
he served for many years as a Vice-President and Patron of the Club.
J . R BURNS
Accountant-General of the Transvaal. Appointed by Lord Milner. After Union in 1910 he served in the Department of
Inland Revenue. He was a prominent member of both the local Irish and the Scottish Associations. These bodies played
an important role in Pretoria in the early twentieth century. There aims were similar to the modern day service clubs. It is
thought that this gentleman is in fact, the same person who proposed the change of name of the Civil Service Rugby Club
to that of the Pretoria Harlequins Rugby Club. A person of the same name was elected as a life member of the Club.
An attorney and politician. He married into the Metlerkamp family of Knsyna. A member of the Transvaal Progressive
Association, a leading political party, in the early 1900’s. In 1907 and 1910 he assisted Percy Fitzpatrick, as his election
agent in his successful political campaigns. In 1910, after the formation of the Union of South Africa, he sat on the
Provincial Council for the Transvaal. Prior to that he served a number of terms of office as a City Councillor. In 1904 he
resigned his appointment as Solicitor to the Transvaal government due to the volume of work involved. He was also
active in the local rugby circles serving as a Vice-President of Pretoria Harlequins Club. Lunnon Road in Hillcrest was
named after him.
J de V. ROOS
Businessman. Came to Pretoria to work for Poynton Bros, Hardware Merchants in Church Street. Later he established a
General Agency business, which also included Insurance. Dabbled in politics. Was a member of the Transvaal Progressive
Association. Also served on the Pretoria School Board. In later years became the Accountant and Secretary of the
Chamber of Commerce. It is likely that Downie Street in Rietondale is named after him.
Both a Vice-President and Patron of the Club. A serving Army officer, who retired in 1921. Seven years later he was
appointed as a member of the Appeal Board which was charged with investigating the decisions made in respect of
military pensions. At this stage no further information is available.
COLONEL G. A. GODLEY
After the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 Godfrey Archibald Godfrey was appointed Under-Secretary for
Native Affairs. He was awarded the C.B.E. For his role in raising the Native Labour Corps, which served in the First World
War. In 1925 he served a term as Vice-President of the Club.
Grew up in the Eastern Cape and educated at St. Andrews College, Grahamstown. He arrived in the Transvaal in 1902
becoming the first delegate of the Club to the Transvaal Rugby Union. A prominent referee in his younger days, he did
much to raise the standard of refereeing on the Rand. In the 1920’s he published two handbooks on the rugby and his
“Hints to Rugby Players” was at the time regarded as the standard work on the game. Later he settled in Cape Town and
was elected a delegate to the South African Rugby Board.
1. The Harlequin Story by H. B. T Wakelam - Published 1954*
2. Springboks Past and Present by J. A. T. Morris and I. A. Emery - Published 1947*
3. The Forthright Man by S and B. Stent - Published 1972*
4. Northern Transvaal Rugby 50 edited by M. C. Van Zyl - Published 1988*
5. Transvaal Rugby Football Union 100 Years by J. T. Ferriera and others - Published 1989*
6. History of South African Rugby Football by I. Difford - Published 1938*
7. Never a Dull Moment by Dr. E. G. Malherbe - Published 1981*
8. Springbok Annals 1891 to 1964 by Dr. D. H. Craven - Published 1964*
9. Pretoria 1855 to 1955 by Prof. S. P. Engelbrecht and others - Published 1955*
10. The First South African by A. P. Carwright. - Published 8
11. Encyclopedia of Southern Africa by E. Rosenthal - Published 1978*
HISTORY OF THE PRETORIA POLICE RUGBY CLUB
Pretoria Police Rugby Club was founded in 1922 and was the most successful team in the Blue Bulls Rugby Union Carlton
League, winning the title on 31 occasions. Prior to the formation of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union (then called the Northern
Transvaal Rugby Union) in 1938, Pretoria Police also played in the Pirates Grand Challenge League of the Golden Lions
Rugby Union (then called the Transvaal Rugby Union), winning that competition on four occasions.