In a feature that appeared in the March issue of SA Rugby magazine, we chatted with business mogul Raymond Ackerman to find out which provincial side he supports.
Raymond Ackerman is well-known as the founder and co-owner of Pick n Pay. But he was also once a talented rugby player and remains an avid follower of the game.
The 87-year-old sees himself as a regular, sport-loving South African, one who longs to see the Stormers lift the Super Rugby trophy one day.
‘I think we should always come either first or second in our conference because of the talent we have here. But, unfortunately, we’re not there yet,’ he tells SA Rugby magazine.
Ackerman, who played U20 rugby for UCT before an injury ended his fledgling career, was well connected in the rugby fraternity, with many of his friends, including Cecil Moss, Brian Pfaff, Fiks van der Merwe, Paul Johnstone, Jan Pickard and John Gainsford going on to become Springboks.
Friendships aside, Ackerman says his favourite players were Dennis Fry, Tommy Gentles and later Francois Pienaar. But there is one player who gained the affection of young Ackerman more than any other.
‘Many of us used to go to Newlands in the 1950s and ’60s just to watch HO de Villiers play for UCT and Western Province. He was the most famous and well-liked player of that era.’
And who are his favourites now?
‘I’m a huge fan of the centre Damian de Allende, and the small wing who used to play for us, Cheslin Kolbe. It’s great to watch them.’
Ackerman has supported Western Province and the Boks since he was a boy.
‘We used to sit right in front to get signatures, but these days the young kids sit there for selfies,’ he jokes.
‘It was always a lovely atmosphere at Newlands. It’s funny, I remember one game between WP and Transvaal. There was a famous wing called Otto van Niekerk, who played for Transvaal, and in the 1939 final he scored a wonderful try to win the game for them. I wasn’t pleased, but I’ve never forgotten him running down that sideline to score in what later become known as “Otto’s corner”.’
As for the plans to relocate from Newlands to Cape Town Stadium, Ackerman is not happy, but concedes there are valid reasons for it.
‘I understand the financial reasons behind the move, but I think the wonderful tradition and history attached to Newlands is going to make a lot of people sad.’
By Mariette Adams