Full name: Benjamin Louwrens Osler
Born: Aliwal North, 23 November 1901
Deceased: Karl Bremer Hospital, Bellville, 28 April 1962
Clubs: UCT, Hamiltons, Villagers
Province: Western Province
International career: 1924-33: 17 tests
Benjamin Osler, a merchant of Falmouth in Cornwall, led a party of 1820 Settlers to South Africa on the Weymouth. They left Falmouth on 7 January, reached Table Bay on 26 April and Algoa Bay on 15 May. Benjamin and Jane had ten children. Benjamin Osler died in 1821, leaving his wife with a son Stephen and five daughters to look after. His descendant was Bennie Osler, whose grandfather, also Benjamin, was a magistrate in Riversdale. His six sons all played for Riversdale. Also on that voyage was the grandfather of Alf Richards who captained South Africa at rugby and cricket.
Bennie Osler’s uncle, Frank, played for Scotland in 1911 and his brother Stanley for South Africa. Two cousins, TG and Duxie Osler, played for Western Province. His uncle Dr JJ Louwrens captained South Western Districts against the British tourists in 1910.
Bennie Osler scored 14 points against the All Blacks in the first test in Durban, a world record at that time. Against the Wallabies he reached 17 caps for South Africa, then another record.
After the successful tour of 1931-32 the nation was shocked when Osler was replaced as captain by Phil Nel. Nel believed that Osler was dropped because of the brand of rugby played on the tour of the UK and Ireland. He said: “That team of all the stars had not played the attractive type of rugby the selectors felt they should have done. They had been successful, yes, but they had made many enemies for the Union code by playing the game so closely and so safely with the accent on avoiding defeat. We had steamrollered our way to victory and our brilliant backs did not have a chance to show their paces often enough.” Others blamed it on the weather, as was the case on the 1960-61 tour.
After the trials at Newlands Bennie Osler went into the foyer of the Metropole Hotel in Cape Town and there saw the team on the notice-board, finding out for the first time that Philip Nel had been made captain in his place. Osler went straight to Nel to congratulate him and assure him of his support.