Former Springboks skipper, coach Smith dies
May 02 2016 08:17 PM
Cornelius ‘Nelie’ Smith


Former Springboks scrum-half, skipper and coach Cornelius ‘Nelie’ Smith died yesterday in Cape Town of heart failure aged 81, the South African rugby body said.
He won seven caps between 1963 and 1965 against Australia, France and New Zealand, scoring a try and kicking three penalties.  
Four of the Test appearances were as captain having succeeded Abie Malan.
Smith coached the Springboks between 1980 and 1981, winning 12 of 15 Tests, and served as a national team selector for a decade.
He also took his coaching skills abroad to guide Ballymena in Ireland and Rovigo in Italy.
“Nelie was one of the best,” said South African Rugby president Oregan Hoskins. “It is only a select few who play for, captain and coach the Springboks.
“His rugby knowledge was massive and touched the lives of thousands of players over the many years he coached.
“His approach to basics like fitness and handling was well known and many players will remember his driving maul techniques with a smile today.”
“He was in high demand as a coach all over the world and achieved success in countries such as Italy and Ireland as well. His approach to basics like fitness and handling was well-known and many players will remember his driving maul techniques with a smile today.”
Smith played in seven Tests for the Springboks and captained them in four of those. His debut was in 1963 against Australia and his first Test as captain against France a year later.
He also captained the Springboks against Australia and New Zealand in 1965 and scored a try and three penalties for 12 Test points. Smith also played in 12 tour matches for South Africa.
As Springbok coach in 1980-81, Smith won 12 of 15 Tests. He also served as a Springbok selector for a decade (1971-81).
At provincial level, Smith and Sakkie van Zyl coached the Orange Free State to their first Currie Cup title in 1976.
Smith played for the Free State in 60 matches between 1956 and 1965 and captained them in 37 matches. He also played for Griquas in four matches in 1966.
Smith also coached the likes of Eastern Province and Northern Free State as well as Ballymena and Rovigo in Ireland and Italy respectively.
Smith is survived by daughters Carin, Annien and son Cornelius. A memorial service will be held in Strand and his funeral will be in Bloemfontein, but dates and times will be confirmed later.

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