Dan Retief


“Write what you feel,” said my son, prime motivator behind this website of a beyond-50-about-to-be-60-something. And what I feel is akin to the terror I felt many years ago when confronted with jumping off the high board at the municipal swimming pool in Graaff-Reinet. I was able to clamber up the ladder but I just could not bring myself to make the leap. Fortunately though my sister’s boyfriend, a first team rugby player whom I viewed in heroic terms, took it upon himself to get the deed done, and with the advice “just close your eyes and go!” and a slight push in the back I leapt! And what a wonderful moment of sheer elation it was. Out of the pool and back up, making sure I was being watched, and leaping again. By the end of the afternoon I had progressed to diving off the high board and was attempting to do the scissors. So here goes. I’m hoping to have a similar experience with ‘danretief.com’ even though the machinations of the internet are beyond me and the only tweeting and twittering I’ve done is to haul out Kenneth Newman’s “Birds of Southern Africa” to identify a feathery object in my garden. I think the look of the site says it all – lots of grass; the kind you play on rather than puff on! I am now in my 40th year of journalism and in what my life partner Linda describes as “semi-retirement” but which feels like a helluva lot of work to me. I am writing a book on the Springboks in the Rugby World Cup (about which more later), have another in the offing and am embarking on this blog because I have found that a journalist, especially a sportswriter, has to have an opinion and a place to express it. My career has been blessed – full of great events, wonderful moments and special people – and even though like the great Hugh McIlvanney of the British Sunday Times I fear that I might not have done “a proper job for a grown-up person” for all these years I have loved it and want to continue for a long time yet. As Confucius said: “Give a man a job he loves, and he will never work a day in his life.” DanRetief.com is thus made up of the components that have shaped me – journalism (with a bit of broadcasting thrown in), rugby, golf and quite a bit of life itself. Thus I intend to write on rugby, golf and whatever else takes my fancy, pricks my conscience or stirs my anger and see where it takes me. It is said that the internet has destroyed good writing but that need not necessarily be so. Journalistic ethics were drummed into me in my formative years as an “inkstained recorder of the trivial,” to use the late Paul Irwin’s classic but outdated description of a sportswriter, so I shall strive to maintain the cornerstones of reliable reporting - independence, factuality, fairness, objectivity, credibility, dignity and experience. I’d like to think that humanity should also be thrown in but sometimes, especially for those in the public eye, criticism is unavoidable and therefore some hurt or affront might be caused as my blog unfolds. If this should be the case I apologise in advance and promise, like Sean Fitzpatrick, “to front up.” A website, as I learnt in my years at supersport.com, is a work in progress so apologies too for any teething problems or errors that might occur as we edge into cyberspace. Sincerely, Dan

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Dan Retief


In a career spanning 40 years, Dan Retief has established himself as one of South Africa’s pre-eminent sports journalists. After starting out on the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley in 1970 he rose through the ranks quickly, covering major tours and becoming sports editor of the Cape Times before embarking on a spell in the world of corporate public relations as PR and Franchising Manager at PG Wood and Group Corporate Communications Manager at Cullinan Holdings; during which time he wrote an award-winning column for the Financial Mail.

In 1991 he joined the Sunday Times and his return to newspapers coincided with South African sport’s re-emergence from isolation. Dan’s work for the Sunday Times established him as arguably the country’s leading sports writer; specialising in rugby and golf.

Dan was named SAB South African Sportswriter of the Year for 1992, 1995 and 1997 – the first and only writer to win the award three times – as well as numerous other awards for rugby writing. At this juncture he was asked to stand down from the competition to become a judge of the awards.

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