Salmaan Moerat adds to his family’s South African rugby legacy
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Cape Town - When Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber named his 32-man squad for the End of Year Tour, Salmaan Moerat was the only newcomer to the group, and that alone made his name noticeable. But it's for an entirely different reason that his inclusion is special.
Moerat will grace the shores of the United Kingdom as a Springbok when the world champions take on Scotland, Wales and England as two of his uncles did exactly 50 years ago.
It has been five decades since Ikraam and Marwaan Moerat were part of the South African Rugby Football Federation (Proteas) side that embarked on a tour to the UK in 1971 where they played six matches. The following year, when the England Test team toured South Africa, both brothers withdrew from the team, citing political reasons.
The 23-year-old Stormers captain has been on the Bok radar for some time and now joins a pack of second-row behemoths including Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Franco Mostert, and Marvin Orie for the last international assignment of the season.
Moerat, a former SA Schools and Junior Bok skipper, carries with him a family legacy deeply rooted in South African rugby that spans decades.
He will be the 12th member of the family called up to represent the national side. Ten of them went on to receive their Springbok blazers post unification, with one having passed on already at the time.
Hailing from Paarl and Vineyards Rugby Club, the Moerats' achievements started in the 1940s when two cousins, Naeem and Abbas Moerat, were selected for the Western Province League side before going on to represent the national side. In the decades that followed, sons, cousins and nephews continued the trend, with Yusuf Moerat achieving national honours in the 1950s, while Achmat 'Broertjie' Abrahams was selected for the Proteas team of 1964 (who, ironically, played a game at the Green Point Track, the famous grounds of the now Cape Town Stadium and home of the Stormers). Abrahams was followed by another cousin Ebrahim Moerat, who also represented the Proteas side.
During the 1980s, Moerat's father Nazeem represented the South African Rugby Union (SARU) side. As a flank he played for both Western Province and Boland during his career. Nazeem, regarded as one of the best by many, stood at just under two meters tall and at 19 he gained his first provincial colours for WP. He represented South Africa in 1984 and 1985. Other family members who represented South Africa in the 80s include fullback Ghalieb Hendricks, who also captained the WP side and hooker Hashiem Hendricks. They were part of the same Saru team.
Another member of the family who went on to achieve the highest levels and received his Springbok colours is Nazeem Toefy, whose mother is also a Moerat. Nazeem and his brother Aslam Toefy were stalwarts of the WP team that was based at Green Point track. In the early 2000s , Ebrahim ‘Baba' Moerat, also a product of Paarl Boys High, played in Jake White's World Rugby Under-20 Championship side.
With Moerat being called up to the senior Springbok team, he becomes the first member of his family, in the professional era, to reach this level, carrying on the name and pedigree of arguably the most successful rugby family in South Africa.