Legendary Tembo remembered

Sammy Tembo, left, with Calvin Jephta

Sammy Tembo has died at the age of 75.

The South African Rugby Union (Saru) legend played rugby for Temperance, represented City and Suburban (Cities) and made the Saru team in 1969.

His friend and Temperance teammate, Calvin Jephta, remembered Tembo as a smiling, hard-playing rugby player .

“He did not play dirty,“ Jephta said. “The opposition enjoyed playing against him because of his sportsmanship. Sammy was the prop, I was the lock and my lock partner was Sammy’s brother Arthur.The other prop was Ossie Samuels and the hooker was Wallace Rosseau. Sammy started off as a flank but our coach Mr Pelston groomed him to become a prop because of his technique as a scrummager. He earned the respect of WP enforcer prop Matthew Napoleon who admired Sammy’s scrumming strength.

“We started playing rugby in the streets of Newlands, SACS grounds and on Newlands B field. We were fortunate to do bodybuilding under the guidance of David Isaacs. In 1969 Temperance won all the trophies at Cities and he made the Saru team.

“At Temperance (Temps), we were all stressed before the game. Sammy would calm us by cracking a few jokes. He was quiet, reserved, independent and played passionately. Temps was unbeaten in 1969/1970 thanks to the brilliant captaincy of Sammy. He was an inspiration. He and the late Gerard Peters of Lansdowne RFC and fellow Saru players were great buddies.

“Deeply religious, Sammy did not drink alcohol or smoke and had a singing voice similar to the late great Louis Armstrong. In his retirement, Tembo played rugby for Westridge. A car accident ended his rugby career,” Jephta recalled.

Tembo is survived by a son and daughter.