Rugby Nicknames Reveals Hidden Humour in the Game

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Rugby Nicknames
Os du Randt, South Africa (Photo by David Davies - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

Rugby nicknames are popular and often reveals the humour to be found in the change room and in the stands. Every team surely has at least one player with a curious nickname.

Rugby Nicknames

We often ask our readers on social media to contribute their thoughts and this time was no different. We share their and our own best examples of rugby nicknames below.

The three most popular rugby nicknames: The Last Word on Rugby readers choice

There were two that were most suggested. One each from England, New Zealand and South Africa.

Billy Twelvetrees

Billy Twelvetrees’ rugby nickname is ’36’. Using your broadest regional accent and thinking back to primary school multiplication tables, say “Twelve trees is 36”.

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Frans “Domkrag” Erasmus

Frans Erasmus was a tighthead prop known for his immense scrummaging power and was one of the author’s favourite players. Erasmus was a motor mechanic by trade. His party trick was to lift the front end of cars he was working on and move them without the use of a “domkrag” the Afrikaans word for a car jack.

Frans Erasmus

His popularity ensured he attracted a number of rugby nicknames. Erasmus was a prop that loved to carry the ball and was known for his bullocking charges. Some commentators took to calling him “the flying frog” when Erasmus had the ball in hand. Renowned South African rugby personality Zandberg Jansen used to close off his show with the famous line “Nag ou Grote”: a direct reference to Eramus. “Goodnight big guy” is probably the closest translation we can offer.

He was also known for a funny comment. After being asked if he has anything to add to an inspiring team talk in the Eastern Province change room, he said: “Yes, anyone know where I can get an engine for a Toyota Corolla?”

Sadly Frans “Domkrag” Erasmus passed away in 1998. In an incredible coincidence, he died in a car accident on the same stretch of road that also claimed his wife’s life only a month before.

Nag ou grote. A deserved legend of the South African game.

Colin “Pinetree” Meads

Meads was given the nickname of “Pinetree” because of his dominating physical presence. He was named New Zealand’s Player of the Century at the New Zealand Rugby Football Union’s annual awards in 1999.

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There were a number of special mentions as well. Here are a few that caught the eye.

Keith Wood – The Raging Potato

Wood was another front rower who loved to carry the ball. With his distinctive bald head, it is not difficult to work out why he was called “the Raging Potato”.

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Willi Heinz – 57

New Zealander Heinz started his career with the Crusaders and now plies his trade in England with Gloucester. He earns his nickname as the Heinz food company originally had 57 varieties of products.

Willi Heinz

John “Nobody” Eales

This is possibly one of the simplest of of rugby nicknames. As the saying goes, “Nobody is perfect”. A world class lineout forward. A captain. A lock that took place kicks at goal.

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Brian “The Chiropractor” Lima

Lima earned the nickname of “The Chiropractor” for his massive tackles that legend claims rearranged the bones of the ball carrier. As a chiropractor does…

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Stephen “Bernie” Larkham

Larkham was a very shy and quiet player in his early years. So much so, he was named after the dead body in the movie Weekend at Bernie’s.

Andre “Avos” Vos

Another very simple rugby nickname. On team sheets, Andre Vos was listed as A. Vos. Avos is the South African term for a pack of avocado pears.

Andre Vos
Andre “Avos” Vos was given his nickname as a reference to the Avocado Pear. Picture Credit: Revue Magazine

Jacobus Petrus “Os” du Randt

Os (Ox) du Randt was always known by his nickname, due to his large frame. He was convinced to come out of retirement to take a place in the Springbok Rugby World Cup winning squad of 2007. As an older member of the squad and a mentor to the younger group, he attracted a second nickname. The younger crew called him “Oupa” – Grandfather.

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There is a story that did the rounds that Du Randt went out for dinner to a steakhouse with his team mates when they were in London. The waitress was reported to have asked Du Randt: “How would you like your steak sir? Medium?”. Du Randt responded with a very indignant: “No! No! I want it large!”

The Last Word on Rugby nicknames

We have highlighted just a few nicknames as suggested by our readers. There are thousands more. Comment below with your favourite rugby nickname?

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