Springbok great Percy Montgomery has put hundreds of items from his career on display. The 2007 world champion talks Boks, boots and water bike challenges in a Q&A
Percy Montgomery’s amazing museum
Percy Montgomery, 46, is South Africa’s record point-scorer with 893 and in 2008 became the first Springbok to win 100 caps for the country. His finest hour was helping the Boks to win the 2007 World Cup in France, when he kicked 12 points in the final against England and finished as the tournament’s top scorer.
The former full-back is showcasing much of the memorabilia from his career in a museum and has decided to auction off items for charity, as he explains to Rugby World in this Q&A…
Treasure trove: the museum at his Cape Town penthouse, which he lets to tourists (Doris van Niekerk)
RW You retired as a player in 2008. What have you been up to since?
PM Initially, I had a three-year contract as kicking coach for the Springboks. After retiring from rugby altogether, I became involved in the tourism industry. I’m also involved in a lot of charity organisations and participating as a triathlete for Ironman4theKidz.
RW Did you consciously collect memorabilia during your playing career?
PM Yes. After Test matches I would swap jerseys or boots with opposition players and get them to sign the jersey, or even get the whole team to sign. I also collected a lot of Test rugby balls. I still have every single programme from every single match I ever played in.
Originally being from Namibia, I was sent to boarding school at nine years old. When SACS (my school and home for many years) spotted my talent, my parents collected and saved each and every item – photographs, magazines, you name it. I even have old videos of all my school rugby games. I’m working with a media company to extract all my kicking clips.
Peroxide look: Montgomery kicking in 2000 (Inpho)
RW What are your most prized possessions?
PM I think it really is an outstanding collection. For example, I have both the first and last jersey that I played in. I have jerseys and boots from some of the best players in the world, including All Black Jeff Wilson, Argentinian Juan Martín Hernández, Australians Chris Latham and Matt Burke, and Ireland’s Conor O’Shea to name a few. I have Barbarians jerseys signed by the late Jonah Lomu and Joost van der Westhuizen.
It really is a vast collection. The items, dates of Test matches, players and results can be viewed at dorisvanniekerk.com
RW Why did you create a museum?
PM As a tribute to my rugby career. It’s situated at my penthouse (15 Views Penthouse) in Camps Bay, Cape Town. It’s not my permanent residence, although I do use it once in a while. I rent the penthouse to tourists so the museum is there for the public to enjoy during their stay. On request, I will do a private tour for corporate clients but not as a general rule.
RW Can you tell us about your charity work?
PM I’ve been very fortunate during my rugby career and charity work is a way of showing my gratitude, giving back and helping to make a difference. I recently auctioned one of my 2007 Rugby World Cup shirts for The Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation to raise awareness and provide some relief during the Covid pandemic.
Awash with memories: no mistaking that Western Province jersey in the museum (Doris van Niekerk)
RW What have you sold so far?
PM During all these years since I retired, I sold a couple of items here and there, some of them from RWC 2007. But it’s only now that I’ve decided to load all the memorabilia I have onto an e-commerce site. It was just packed away in storage and with me travelling so much, I would rather that rugby fans from all over the world could display it and enjoy it. Obviously the collection in my private museum is not for sale.
RW We understand you like challenges. What are some you’ve done?
PM RWC 2007 was one of my biggest challenges. Then there’s Ironman South Africa – I did two events but before I could claim the big medal – you have to complete three in a row – the worldwide pandemic hit and all events were cancelled.
I was super-fit and it’s mentally tough, but I’ve entered the three races in 2021 and will race in Orange for Ironman4theKidz again. I also race in the Water Bike Challenge in Monaco. World medal swimmer Ryk Neethling and I won the Water Bike challenge a few years back.
Bronzed: with ex-England wing Dan Luger at the 2017 Riviera Water Bike Challenge in Monaco (Getty)
RW Where did you watch the RWC 2019 final? Were you confident the Boks would win?
PM I watched it with a few close mates at The Bay Hotel in Camps Bay on a massive screen. I was very confident that the Boks would win, I even put a huge bet on it.
RW What impact has that World Cup triumph had in the country?
PM It has had a massive transformation on the country as sport brings people together, and SA Rugby has done a fantastic job helping the process. Rassie (Erasmus) has taken a lot of 2007 World Cup and applied it, bringing players in from all areas and integrating them, bringing them all together.
Boks on parade: South Africa’s World Cup success last year has fuelled interest in the sport (Getty)
RW Are there parallels with your own World Cup win in 2007?
PM I think it’s pretty much had the same impact.
RW Do you expect the Springboks to evolve under Jacques Nienaber?
PM Jacques used to be my coach as well. He has learned a lot from Rassie. The game plan will be tweaked as the game evolves, but I think he will do well with Rassie as Head of Rugby.
RW Pro14 organisers are in talks to potentially expand the number of SA franchises in the competition. Do you welcome that? Might there be an end point whereby the Boks play in an annual competition in Europe?
PM In my opinion, you need the southern hemisphere versus northern hemisphere competition for rugby to evolve.
Sold: Montgomery with the RWC 2007 jersey he auctioned for the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation (Doris van Niekerk)