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Barry ‘Fairy’ Heatlie captained South Africa to their first test win in 1896, against Great Britain in Cape Town, and is credited with choosing green as the colour of the Springbok jersey.
All of Heatlie’s six caps came against the British, five of them for South Africa, who he led to a series victory in 1903, and one for Argentina.
Western Province enjoyed an 11-year unbeaten run in the Currie Cup (1894-1905) under his captaincy. He also served as Western Province secretary for three years.
When Heatlie emigrated to Argentina in 1905 it was a blow for South African rugby. Not only was he a fine leader and tactician but a class above as a forward.
During his time in Argentina he played for, captained and coached Buenos Aires-based Lomas RFC and Club de Gymnasia y Esgrima. His one and only capped appearance for Argentina came against the British at Flores in June 1910.
Talking of great players, Markotter rates Fairly Heatlie (whom he both he played with and against) as the greatest forward South Africa has produced. He is also inclined to put him down as the best captain ever to lead a Springbok side.
During those years (1899-1906) 'Fairy' Heatlie was in a class by himself as a forward. Those who played with him consider that probably no better forward in South Africa has ever donned a football jersey.