Springbok star Henry de Villiers’ granddaughter is cheering for Scots

Alistair wearing his great grandfather's blazer and James Alexander de Villiers
Alistair wearing his great grandfather's blazer and James Alexander de Villiers
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SCOTLAND first faced South Africa on Saturday 17 November, 1906, and the family of one Springbok from that match will be shouting themselves hoarse in support of Scotland 106 years on.

Henry Alexander de Villiers, known as Alex, played centre in that first Springbok international on foreign soil – at Hampden Park – and his grand-daughter Sheena Gardiner explains what happened next.

“Edinburgh ladies were invited to partner the players at a tea dance in Edinburgh,” she recounted. “Alex met my grandmother, and they got married in 1907 in Edinburgh.

“They flew to Cape Town and my father, John Henry Philip de Villiers, was born there in 1908. But my grandmother brought my dad home to Scotland when he was 12, and they never returned. His mother asked him not to get in touch with his father until after she passed away, but she lived to be 100, so he did nothing about it.”

However, after her father died in 2001, Sheena went to South Africa and found another son of Alex de Villiers, James Alexander de Villiers.

“He has now visited and stayed with us many times and my son Alistair visited the school my grandfather attended in Paarl in 2009, where Alex is in the sports museum, and he was able to try on his great-grandfather’s original Springboks blazer. Incredible!”

Bearsden-born Sheena will be at Murrayfield today with husband Brian, Alistair and daughters Jo and Sarah, toasting their links with a famous ’Bok but cheering on the home side.