A privileged group of Gansbaai residents recently paid a visit to David Macdonald’s amazing rugby museum in Pearly Beach. Dave and his wife Margaret treated their guests to a splendid five-course sit-down dinner, fine wines and craft beers, while regaling them with the history of this inimitable collection, ranging from rugby jerseys, balls and caps to scarves, ties, mugs and books, pictures and paintings and numerous objects and mementos, all devoted to the Game of Games as it has been played – and watched - by millions here and elsewhere for the past 150 years or more.
David himself has been involved in the game since his early teens, first as a player for Villager Rugby in Cape Town as centre and full-back for several years, later as referee and administrator.
He started his invaluable collection more than fifty years ago and was personally involved in numerous national, provincial and local rugby bodies.
The “museum house” rambles up and down several levels and every square inch of wall, mantelpiece, shelf, pelmet, ceiling and window sill of The Tog Room is taken up with hundreds of rugby ties and caps worn by legendary players from a bewildering series of countries, clubs and provinces.
There are historic photographs (who will ever forget the Stransky drop goal that earned the 1995 World Cup for the Boks?), drawings and paintings, dozens upon dozens of jerseys of famous players, hundreds of rugby caps and a multitude of valuable rugby collector’s items. There is a smallish but fascinating library of rugby books, a tiny antique billiard table, a collection of rare craft beers, new and old, and a wine “cellar” of fine and rare vintages wines, a few steps up from the dining room.
Dave has been involved with big entities like SA Breweries and other interested parties involved in sponsoring the game. On occasion he invites selected groups of guests to beer and wine tastings, spiced with his seemingly endless collection of anecdotes and first-hand experiences of the game and all the people who played, watched, administered and followed it.
He started his collection more than fifty years ago and what started off as a “hobby” gradually turned into a passionate involvement in preserving the history of his beloved game as his personal involvement in rugby clubs, Provincial Rugby Clubs, the South African Navy and several other clubs and institutions made his huge collection possible and made the visit to his house such an unforgetable experience.
In 2001 David became the moving force behind the South African Rugby Legends Association, consisting of former greats of the game. The association’s stated aims are promoting the game at all levels and cherishing the rich history and traditions of the game and all the people involved in it: players, administrators, coaches, referees, spectators, journalists, photographers, historians, fans and everyone else.
David, now retired, and Margaret usually live in Cape Town but have owned the Pearly Beach house, where most of this collection is on show to selected guests, for more than 40 years. Rugby Legends, the body of which Dave has been chairman for a number of years, was created to develop and promote rugby at grassroots level. It actively supports the needs and interests of Springbok players past and present, arranges matches, contributes to coaching, training, fundraising lunches, golf days and other events all aimed at maintaining a passion for the game, all the more topical and vital at a time when SA rugby seems to be entering a historic dip.