Severe surgery for ex-Bok

29 September 2010 - 00:55 By JULIA FISH

Former Springbok Syd Nomis, 69, faced a life-or-death decision at the weekend on a visit to Switzerland.

He had to lose a leg or his life after clots developed in his left leg.

"Doctors said in no uncertain terms that it was either the leg or his life," Nomis's niece, Michelle Testi, said yesterday.

"He was coughing a bit when I took him to the Gautrain and when he got to Zurich he was admitted to hospital, but was later discharged. Now all this. I just can't believe it," said Testi.

The leg was amputated on Sunday night.

In his days as a rugby player, Nomis's legs were famous for side-stepping opponents and sprinting to the touchline.

He played centre or wing in 25 Test matches between 1967 - when he made his debut against France at Newlands - and 1972.

Nomis scored six tries, two of which have gone down in Springbok rugby folklore. One was in Paris in 1968 when Nomis virtually crawled across the tryline to score, helping the Boks beat the Tricolores 16-11.

His most famous try was in 1970 during the first Test against Brian Lochore's All Blacks, when the Springboks were very much the underdogs against a New Zealand side that had gone unbeaten in 17 Tests since 1965.

Nomis intercepted a ball and, as he raced towards the tryline, Afrikaans radio commentator Gerhard Viviers was so overcome that he shouted into his microphone: "Siddeee, Siddeee, Siddeee!"

Years later, after Viviers had introduced former Springbok captain Morne du Plessis as a guest speaker at a rugby writers' dinner, Du Plessis paid tribute to the commentator and to Nomis: "Thank you Gerhard. Who could ever forget that try you and Syd Nomis scored for the Springboks."

The Boks went on to win the 1970 series against the All Blacks.