Home RIP R.I.P. – Martin Pelser

R.I.P. – Martin Pelser


Springbok Martin Pelser has passed away after having a stroke in May.

Pelser played 11 test and scored two tries for the Springboks

Doc Craven had this to say about Martin Pelser who had only one eye…..

It always astounded me how he could see all over the field with only one eye, yet it never seemed to bother him and he played with fury and commitment.

He, Doug Hopwood and Hugo van Zyl formed a cohesive unit and helped the tight forwards in the set play while the tight forwards responded by helping them in the loose. Martin Pelser was strong, fast, and he had the marvellous quality of anticipation.

A tough man who could use his fists if necessary, but only if sorely provoked. He was too much of a gentleman to pick fights on the field.

Martin turned professional eventually; I don’t hold it against him at all. We were caught napping when some eight or nine Boks turned professional at the time. I don’t believe his heart was in it though, and I think he only did it because he possibly needed the money at the time.

One of the great loose forwards of all time.

All Black legend Colin Meads said Pelser was one of the hardest players he ever faced.

He plays his first test match on against the French in a historical series for the Blues .

He is then selected to play in a series of four games against the All Blacks which is won by the Springboks with two wins, one draw and one loss.

In 1960-1961 he was selected three times with the Springboks , who toured Europe . He beat Wales 3-0. He then took the win against Ireland 8-3.

The , South Africans concede the draw in Paris 0-0.

Martin Pelser then took part in three victories over the Irish and Australians in 1961, completing this series with his international career.

He does his whole career in the Transvaal province.


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  1. To play 11 tests those days with travel what it was, rugby being amateur, was the equivalent to 50 these days. Pelser was apparently as tough as they came, it was before my time, but I’ve read stories of the tours of those days. RIP

  2. Here I found it: ” Although all members of the SARB loudly
    proclaimed their adherence to amateurism, it was apparent that many
    Afrikaners, like the French, did not entirely share the enthusiasm of the
    Anglo-Saxons. Moreover, the late 1950s saw attempts to bring rugby
    league to South Africa and a number of prominent Springboks, such as
    Tom van Vollenhoven, Wilf Rosenberg and Alan Skene, left to play for
    English league clubs. Martin Pelser, one of those who turned to league,
    stated bluntly that ‘I cannot recount the many days of unpaid leave I had to
    take for the sake of amateur rugby… Amateur rugby, and especially
    Springbok rugby, is a game for rich men’s sons. I, and others like me,
    could no longer afford it.’29 Although rugby league in South Africa never
    got off the ground, the need to protect its players from the lure of
    professional league became a major concern of the SARB”


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