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Felix du Plessis was a former South African rugby union player and captain of the Springbok team that in 1949 beat the All Blacks thrice in succession, a feat that was not repeated by a South African side until 2009.[1] Du Plessis's son, Morné, also captained the Springboks, the only father-son duo to have done so.[2]

Felix du Plessis
Birth nameFelix du Plessis
Date of birth24 November 1919
Place of birthSteynsburg, South Africa
Date of death1 May 1978(1978-05-01) (aged 58)
Place of deathStilfontein
ChildrenMorne du Plessis
Rugby union career
Position(s) Lock
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
Wanderers, Johannesburg
Old Greys, Bloemfontein
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1949  South Africa 3

Early life and careerEdit

Du Plessis was born on 24 November 1919 in Steynsburg, in the Eastern Cape. He was the nephew of Nic du Plessis, a Springbok who toured to New Zealand in 1921 and gained 5 caps over a three-year career.[3][4]

As a 19-year-old Felix Du Plessis was selected for the first Northern Transvaal team ever, when that union was formed in 1938. His teammate and captain was Danie Craven.[3] He enlisted voluntarily during World War II.[5]

International careerEdit

Felix made his debut on 16 July 1949 for South Africa as a lock in the first test match at Newlands Stadium, Cape Town against the touring All Blacks, led by Fred Allen. He was the first ever Wanderers player to become Springbok captain.[3][6] Supported by vice-captain Cecil Moss, Du Plessis' team – which included Springbok greats Tjol Lategan, Hannes Brewis, Okey Geffin, and Hennie Muller – swept the series 3 – 0.[7] Six weeks after the last test, Morné was born.[8]

Despite his three successive test victories as captain, Du Plessis was left out of the team that faced the All Blacks in the 4th test at Port Elizabeth. He was replaced by Basil Kenyon, possibly because the player-coach's Border team had emerged unbeaten from two encounters with the New Zealanders, with a 9–0 win and a 6–6 draw.[9][10][11] Unlike Du Plessis, Kenyon would only receive this one cap.[12]

International capsEdit

No. Opposition Result (SA 1st) Position Tries Date Venue
1. New Zealand 15–11 Lock 16 July 1949 Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
2. New Zealand 12–6 Lock 13 August 1949 Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg
3. New Zealand 9–3 Lock 3 September 1949 Kingsmead, Durban

Personal lifeEdit

Du Plessis married Pat Smethurst, who in 1954 captained the South African women's hockey team. Their son Morné is the only Springbok captain born to parents who both captained national sports sides.[2][13][14] The Du Plessis couple supported the more liberal opposition United Party instead of the National Party, which had come to power in 1948 and would enforce apartheid for the next 42 years.[5]

Felix worked as a representative for South African Breweries, then relocated to Vereeniging to manage Iscor's sport and recreation department. He moved to Stilfontein, where he opened a liquor store, one of the first shops in town. Morné recalls his father as a gentle and retiring person, who only started watching his son play rugby once he was at Stellenbosch. Du Plessis died at Stilfontein in 1978 at the age of 58, having played only in the three tests against New Zealand.[15][16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Morgan, Brad (14 September 2009). "Springboks win 2009 Tri-Nations". Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Morné du Plessis". Who's Who Southern Africa. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "Wanderers never been short of quality locks". The Citizen. 3 August 2012. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  4. ^ "Nic du Plessis". ESPN Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  5. ^ a b Carlin, John (2008). Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation. New York: Penguin. ISBN 978-1-594-20174-5.
  6. ^ Felix' grandson, Luc du Plessis, was playing eighthman for the Wanderers in 2012. Hannes Strydom, who played in the 1995 World Rugby Cup final, is another well-known lock from the same club.The Citizen, 3 August 2012 Archived 21 April 2013 at
  7. ^ "Famous SACS Players 1891 – 1945". Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  8. ^ "Morné du Plessis". SA Sports & Arts Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  9. ^ "Introduction '56". The McLook Rugby Collection. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  10. ^ "All Blacks 1949 Tour Factbox". 22 July 2009. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  11. ^ "First three tour matches. All Blacks 28 – Border 3". The McLook Rugby Collection. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  12. ^ "Basil Kenyon". ESPN Scrum. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  13. ^ Van der Watt, Frans (7 January 2005). "Vanjaar dalk grote vir Grace Yazbek". Volksblad. Archived from the original on 14 July 2015. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  14. ^ Retief, Dan (20 October 2009). "'Your captain is a great guy…'". SuperSport. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  15. ^ "Felix du Plessis". ESPN Scrum. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  16. ^ "SA Rugby Player Profile – Felix du Plessis". South African Rugby Union. Retrieved 30 May 2016.