Big Fish

Ackermann’s final farewell

Written by (Big Fish)

Posted in :In the news, Sharks, Super 14 on 28 Feb 2008 at 10:31

On Saturday at Loftus Versfeld, Johan Ackermann plays his final first class match – 20 years almost to the day that he made his Northern Transvaal debut on the same ground.

This time though, he is finishing against the Bulls as the Sharks take on the Super 14 champions at Loftus Versfeld.

Ackermann’s retirement from first class rugby has had many a false dawn but he assures us that this Saturday evening, the sun will finally set on his remarkable career. “This time, for sure,” he said.

Ackermann, 38 on June 3, has been a contradiction in terms throughout a career that has had more highs and lows than a Disney World roller coaster. When he pulls a rugby jersey over his head he is tungsten steel personified – his teammates thank the rugby gods for their good fortune, while the opposition’s sentiment is a mixture of fear and respect – but when he takes off that jersey you will not meet a nicer, more obliging, humble man.

“This has got to be my final game for the Sharks – I start work on Monday in Cape Town (as a sales manager for a petroleum company),” he said. “I was supposed to start a month ago but the Sharks asked me to come out of retirement for their first three matches because of the injury to Steven Sykes. My new boss was kind enough to let me play these three games (Force, Stormers, Bulls).”

Ackermann says he got the call regarding a “proper” job late last year out of the blue, just as he was considering what to do with his life after rugby.

Jake White had paid his respects to Ackermann by giving him a surprise call-up to the Springbok team to play the Barbarians at Twickenham.

“After that match I thought it was all over … and then I got the call from Dick Muir in January,” he said.

“When I arrived (from Pretoria, the location of the family home) for the warm-up game against the Lions my boots were still caked in Twickenham mud).”

Fortunately, Ackermann is a fitness fanatic and had been in training, although he was doing more cycling and swimming than running.

Then again, he is picked to direct the traffic in the forward exchanges, not gallop down the wing. And his form for the Sharks against the Force and the Stormers has been phenomenal.

Ackermann’s form, considering that he is in his mid-to-late 30s, is proof that age is nothing but a number with players that keep fit and have the right attitude.

In 2006 and 2007, he impressed Jake White, who had no hesitation in picking him for the Boks. When he played against the Wallabies in Sydney last year, he was the oldest Springbok at 37 years and 34 days. Second is Boy Morkel (36 years and 258 days), third is Deon Lotter (35 years, 307 days) and next Frik du Preez (35 years, 252 days).

After his debut for the Boks in the match against Fiji at Loftus Versfeld in 1996, he played three more Tests that year (he was with the Bulls then), then was in the international wilderness for five years; as a Lions player he played four Tests in 2001 before another five-year exile ended in 2006 when as a Shark he was picked for a five-Test run that ended last year.

His first exile from the Boks was as a result of his two-year ban for the use of a banned substance.

It could be said that Ackermann has had had three separate careers: his time with the Bulls and the Boks; with the Lions and the Boks and then his latter day career with the Sharks and the Boks. Let us also not forget his seasons with Griquas.

The reason for his longevity, besides the break his body enjoyed during that forced two-year hiatus, is because Ackermann has played rugby for the right reasons – he loves the game.
o This article was originally published on page 25 of Pretoria News on February 28, 2008


  • BIG one to say goodbye, Ackies!

  • Comment 1, posted at 28.02.08 10:39:14 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • robdylan
    if I am not wrong Ackermann also played for provincial side Mpumalanga… 🙄

  • Comment 2, posted at 28.02.08 12:34:27 by H.O. Reply

  • Squads:
    The Sharks (Vodacom Super 14)
    Springboks XV (Vodacom Outgoing Tour)
    The Sharks (ABSA Currie Cup Premier Div)
    South Africa (Vodacom Tri-Nations)
    South Africa (Vodacom Incoming Tours)
    Wildebeest (Vodacom Cup)
    The Sharks (Vodacom Super 14)
    The Sharks (ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division)
    The Sharks (Vodacom Super 14)
    South Africa (Vodacom Outgoing Tours)
    Springbok XV (Vodacom Outgoing Tours)
    Wildeklawer Griquas (ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division)
    Wildeklawer Griquas (ABSA Currie Cup Qualifying Round)
    Griquas (Vodacom Shield)
    Griquas (ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division)
    Sharks (Vodacom Super 12)
    Nashua Griquas (ABSA Currie Cup – Premier Div.)
    Nashua Griquas (Absa Currie Cup Qualifying Rounds)
    Griquas (Vodacom Shield)
    South Africa (Vodacom Tri-Nations)
    Lions (Bankfin Currie Cup)
    South Africa (Vodacom Incoming Tours)
    South Africa (Vodacom Incoming Tours)
    Cats (Vodacom Super 12)
    Lions (Bankfin Currie Cup)
    Cats (Vodacom Super 12)
    Lions (Bankfin Currie Cup)
    Cats (Winfield Super 12)
    Golden Lions (Vodacom Cup)
    Blue Bulls (Winfield Super 12)
    South Africa (Winfield Tri Nations)
    South Africa (Fiji to SA)
    Blue Bulls (Bankfin Currie Cup)
    Northern Transvaal (Winfield Super 12)

  • Comment 3, posted at 28.02.08 12:39:34 by Charlie Reply

  • why cant they keep him on until the end of the season, he has been in great form and is not off the pace, one of the few no 4 locks that can compete with Bakkies.

    i cant understand why anyone would want to change a winning formula, make a plan.

  • Comment 4, posted at 28.02.08 13:05:13 by cab Reply

  • thank robdylan
    I was wrong 😳

  • Comment 5, posted at 28.02.08 13:27:53 by H.O. Reply

  • thanks to Charlie too! 😆

  • Comment 6, posted at 28.02.08 13:28:31 by H.O. Reply

  • hell – he’s been around a bit, hey?

  • Comment 7, posted at 28.02.08 13:34:48 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Great servant of rugby & a truly humble giant… 🙂

  • Comment 8, posted at 28.02.08 13:38:46 by Charlie Reply

  • H.O.

    Pleasure, :mrgreen:

  • Comment 9, posted at 28.02.08 13:39:15 by Charlie Reply


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