Three things that cost us the game

The All Blacks are a super team and probably deserved winners. They took the boks on at Ellispark and kept their composure.

South African supporters, I believe, are generally speaking happy with the progress our team has shown this year. The Springboks had their opportunities and could have won the game. There were enough line-breaks but the final pass, support and decision making were lacking to round it off. One thinks of the two Willie le Roux opportunities, the Etzebeth and Kolisi breakaways and feel it was so close you could almost taste victory.  Continue reading

Greyling and Ellis; Pair made in heaven

After my tribute to Jan Ellis I thought I just have to write something about the man who was a big part of Jan’s success as a Springbok rugby player, Piet Greyling.

Currie Cup-winning Transvaal captain in 1971 and 1972, former Springbok flanker Piet Greyling, was arguably one of the best, but certainly one of the toughest.

The picture below shows Piet Greyling with his Transvaal side who got a share of the Currie Cup for the first time in 19 years -having previously won it in 1952- when they shared the cup with Northern Transvaal in an epic final and controversial 14-14 draw at Ellis Park in 1971. The next year Greyling led his Transvaal side to a 25-19 win over Eastern Transvaal at Pam Brink Stadium in Springs to win the cup with the help of Gerald Bosch who dropped the winning points in the final minutes.  It was back in 1972, before the Currie Cup final against Eastern Transvaal in Springs that the former Bok captain uttered these famous words to his Transvaal team-mates: “Eighty minutes of agony for an eternity of pleasure.” Continue reading

The day Rhodesia beat the All Blacks

There are a host of international teams like Scotland and Ireland not even to mention second tier test nations like Canada, USA, Italia and Argentina who have never beaten the All Blacks. Wales have beaten the All Blacks only three times; the last time being in 1953. In general the only teams really able to foster some occasional wins against the All Blacks are England, France, Australia and South Africa with the latter being by far the most successful in this regard. 

The fact that Rhodesia (now of course Zimbabwe) have once beaten the All Blacks are therefore something really unique and says a lot about the state of rugby in Southern Africa at the time this occurred namely in 1949. The fact that South Africa also white washed the 1949 All Blacks 4-0 in the test series leaves the impression that it was a weak All Black side which is something most rugby scribes strongly reject.  Continue reading

Cavalier tour in hindsight

Allan Perrott wrote an interesting article called ‘The rebel rugby tour: Boots and all’ about the 1986 Cavaliers tour to South Africa.  

It is quite timely. Not only for the fact that it happened 25 years ago but because the All Black won their one and only RWC the year after the Cavaliers excursion to the rotting carcass of Apartheid as Chris Laidlaw like to call South Africa.  

The Cavaliers of course polarised New Zealand almost like the 1981 tour. So considering the impact of the 1981 tour on New Zealand –and we in SA don’t always appreciate the impact it had- it is astonishing that some of the incumbent All Blacks of 1986 decided to actually rebel tour to South Africa. Continue reading

’76 All Black tour – In conclusion

The words of Fergus Slattery echoed perhaps best the general feeling about South African rugby at the end of the 1976 tour. Commenting to Phillip Jones of the Sunday Times before he left South Africa Slattery said: “The first thing I would tell a young player is not to play like the Springboks. They are five years behind the times.”

Five years behind the times was probably a harsh statement considering that the Springboks scored some really good tries in the first test and that they did try and play a more open game in the second test. There were moments in the second and fourth tests when the Springboks really produced some excellent running rugby. The pressure of winning culminated -after the defeat in the second test – in a safety first approach and a heavy reliance on the exceptional kicking skills of Gerald Bosch.

I would bet my bottom dollar that any other nation, including Ireland and New Zealand, who had a player like Gerald Bosch  would have done the exact same thing in order to secure a series win. One only has to go back to the history books to see how New Zealand did it when they had players like Don Clarke and Grant Fox while Ireland did it when they had players like Tony Ward and Ollie Campbell.

No one can deny, however, that the rugby played in this series was a bit dull and ultimately disappointing from a spectator’s viewpoint. The magnitude of dubious referee decision also left the more knowledgable South African rugby fans with an unsatisfactory uneasiness about South African rugby, the tour, and the controversial manner in which the series win was accomplished. It was hard to celebrate a series win confounded with so many hard to defend incidents. Victory itself is simply not enough; the true South African rugby lover cares and worries as much about how the Springboks win.

In cold statistics the tour was a sweeping success but there was much to ponder about after a very unhappy bunch of Kiwi’s got on the plane and left for New Zealand. No matter how one tried to argue for poor sportsmanship -as reason for the Kiwis whining- in our hearts of hearts all South Africans knew the unhappiness resulted from the manner in which they lost and not because they lost. Ongoing racial issues in the beloved country, the on- and off-field fighting and aggression combined with the manner in which we won left most supporters with very few fond memories about the tour.

Certainly, the ’76 Springboks did not produce heroes like Mannetjies Roux, John Gainsford, Joggie Jansen, Ian McCallum, Frik du Preez, Gert Muller, Syd Nomis, Piet Greyling, Jan Ellis, Johan Claassen and Keith Oxlee as was the case during the tours of 1960 and 1970. Morné du Plessis and probably Moaner van Heerden and to some extend Boland Coetzee were perhaps the only Springboks who stepped out of the tour with an enhanced reputation the rest were pretty ordinary.

In the final analysis Morné du Plerssis had a greater impact on the series than Gerald Bosch. Du Plessis was, in retropective, the difference between the two teams. Not only was du Plessis the Captain-coach but he made some courageous decisions during the series that panned out to be crucial. Du Plessis, having given away an intercept try because of a foolish pass in the first test, had the presence of mind to keep his head clear, and not succumb to the emotional pressure. He had the courage, nerve, and judgment to instruct a change of tactics.

The Springboks were struggling in the lineout and not dominating in the scrums -like they thought they would- and Bosch was off his game -playing with flu- so Du Plessis made a clever but very courageous decision to start running the ball.

Due to that change of tactics, the brilliance of Germishuys was utilised by means of a skillful backline manoeuvre and the weakness of NZ first five eighth, Duncan Robertson playing out of position at fullback, was exploited (See the Germishuys try here).

The Springboks 2nd try in the first test (Krantz’s try – see the try here) was also a result of that change of tactics. In many ways it was an even better try than the Germishuys try. The Springboks took the ball right, left and right again stringing phases after phase with some good rucking and driving. An excellent contructed try by all accounts.

The obsession with “not losing” produced a huge, cumbersome lock on the flank for the last test and persistence with Bosch on flyhalf, whose goal kicking in the series was not at all on par with his normal high standards. Gavin Cowley, by far the most polished No10 in the country for the previous three seasons, and who could have ignited and lifted the likes of Oosthuizen, Whipp, Germishuys and Pope to stardom, were ignored in spite of the fact that Cowley proved himself a more than adequate goal kicker.

It is easy to sit on the sideline and critize but du Plessis and the Springbok selectors had to make some serious decisions after the attempt to run at the All Blacks backfired on them in the second test. It would have been criminal to lose a test series trying to run the ball against the best oppostion in world rugby while you had the freakisly talented Gerald Bosch at your dispossal. They opted for size in the pack and with sticking with a well proven recepy and it produced the desired results with some help from the referee one have to add.

Imgine the outrage if they went the other way and failed. You just can’t please all the people all the time; sometimes you have to trust your gut and go with that which is exactly what du Plessis and the selectord did in this series. The decisive moment or turning point in this series came for some scribes when the Springboks selectors finaly got it right and selected iron man Johan Strauss and Kevin de Klerk in the pack for the third test. In spite of that the Springboks were trailing at half time -of that third test- but produced a spirited second half performance to win after a inspiring half-time talk by du Plessis.

The following few paragraphs by Terry McLean is possibly a good way to end my story about the ’76 tour:

John Stewart’s animadversions upon South Africa and South African Rugby, delivered when the All Blacks returned to Auckland 92 says after they had left it, caused offense to the New Zealanders’ host. 

Experience in sporting life teaches one lesson: when you have been beaten, bite the bullet. After Dr Danie Craven returned to Stellenbosch from managing the 1956 Springboks in New Zealand, an experience infinitely more searing than the 1976 All Blacks could remotely imagine, perhaps the wisest man world Rugby has ever known, Mr A.F. Markotter, a great coach and an inspired judge of men and their abilities, greeted him from the car. They shook hands. “Well Craven,” said “Uncle Mark”, “what are you going to say about this lot?” He put his car in gear and drove away. “It hit me,” Dr Craven has said over the years, “that there was only one thing I could say. Nothing.” By and large, he has. New Zealand can thank him for this. That was the year New Zealanders went to bed praying that their men could beat those bastards of Boers, one match after the other. In terms of nationalist fervor mounting to hatred, it was the worst tour Rugby has ever known.  

There is a fine line between love and hate; between passion and obsession. Next week I’ll start with the tour of 1956 when the fine line got very murky indeed.

Oubaas Markotter widely regarded as the “father” of South African rugby and whom Terry McLean described as probably the wisest man Rugby has ever known.

1976 All Black tour – Fourth test

They made complaining an art form. Almost all reports of the 1976 tour -especially the fourth test- starts and ends with a grumble about the refs. The whining began round about the third match, picked-up in intensity after losing against WP and spiraled out of control after the loss against Northern Transvaal and then reached heights of stratospheric proportions after the fourth test defeat.

No one showed-up at Jan Smuts to wave the All Blacks farewell; no doubt fed-up with all the bitching, complaining and the super superior know-it-all-attitude of this Kiwi tour group regarding South African rugby, refereeing and how the country should be run. Maybe I am over re-acting a bit here but it is hard to fathom how the South African public, media and rugby board could have maintained high levels of positivity regarding this All Black team when one reads how they reacted after the fourth test defeat.

One get the impression that this ’76 team –if not the team then at least the kiwi media- was so busy analyzing South African politics, people, referees, and rugby that they forgot to pay attention to their own game. Very little mention, if any, is made of the fact that this team lost 6 out of 24 games; that they couldn’t kick a penalty even if their lives depend on it; that they totally relied on individual brilliance to score tries, and that they lacked depth in a number of key positions.

This team lost the fourth test and the series because they struggled to construct tries. They scored two tries in the fourth test thanks to the individual opportunistic brilliance of Sid Going and came close on two occasions thanks to the opportunistic individual brilliance of Bruce Robertson. In the second test Joe Morgan received a lucky packet try through some awful Springbok midfield defense. In the first test Jaffray scored after opportunistic individual brilliance by Grant Batty. In the third test Bruce Robertson scored a controversial kick-through-try -thanks to a series of mistakes by the South African wingers- but the team was glaringly unable to manufacture a try in that test; in fact they were so incapable when moving the ball down the backline that Johan Oosthuizen scored the winning try from a ‘intercept’ when the ball bounced off Kit Fawcett’s shoulder on the one occasion they did try to run the ball.

This fact –that they couldn’t construct a decent try in the test matches and against the better provincial sides- is never mention whenever you read about this ’76 All Blacks. The main trust during interviews with players and in reports about this tour is how they were cheated by Gert Bezuidenhout; how poor the South African referees were; how South African rugby was relying on kicks and penalties to win test matches and how the kicking game dominated in South African rugby.

The Springboks traditionally play a structured 10-man style rugby and stayed true to this style in ‘76; Bosch did dominate this era with his kicking; the referees probably were a bit one eyed; the white population were creatures of Apartheid propaganda but this ’76 New Zealand team did not deserve to draw the series just because they played well in the last test. In spite of Bosch and our kicking game South Africa constructed two brilliant tries in the first test, missed out -thanks to a great Peter Whiting tackle- on a outstandingly well constructed try by Boland Coetzee in the second test and scored a well thought out try by Klippies Kritzinger in the fourth test.

See the near Boland Coetzee try in the second test here and noticed how the boks created the opportunity with innovative backline play against decent defense; by holding onto the ball, and by changing the point of attack on at least three occasions during the sequence of play.

The All Black pack was the better forward pack in the fourth test. They dominated in scrums, line-outs and at the rucks –especially in the second half- but the team was inherently flawed in its ability to build tries. Every time they played decent opposition (Western Province, Northern Transvaal and Free Sate) this inherit flaw cost them the match. They had close encounters against Transvaal and the Quagga-Barbarians due this same flaw and only won those matches thanks to some awful kicking by Bosch (Transvaal) and some opportunistic tries by Williams (Transvaal) and Joe Morgan (Babaas).

After having read three accounts by New Zealand authors of this series I have to conclude that the New Zealand reports of this series are just as unconsciously biased and flawed in accurate analysis of New Zealand rugby than they report South African referees and rugby to have been. The great Terry McLean alluded to this fact on a couple of places in his brief about this test match –and at some other places- in his book “Goodbye to glory. This is what he writes about the fourth test with specific reference to the rugby the All Blacks of ’76 played:

They died by their own hands, that was the inevitable verdict. True, Bezuidenhout was unconscionably incompetent in at least three incidents which undoubtedly turned the game –and the series- to South Africa.  

He then goes on and elaborates about everything Bezuidenhout did wrong with emphasis on the two times that Bruce Robertson was obstructed from scoring; the South African lifting tactics in the line-outs; and the final penalty against Bush –who was nowhere near the ball- for barging in the line-out.

A penalty which Bosch converted and which won the test and series for South Africa.

He also mentions that quite a number of prominent South Africans including both the English and Afrikaans radio commentators (Chick Henderson and Gerhard Viviers), John Vorster and Danie Craven admitted that the second obstruction of Bruce Robertson should have been a penalty try.

After all this he comes back to the way New Zealand played and their post-match whining:

Such a pity, the caterwauling; because it did distract from the fact that Going twice failed with attempts at conversations by slicing across the line of flight like a golfer hitting from the outside in –the wind was with him, they were kicks as easy (if, to be fair, any goalkicks in any test match are easy) as the two he missed in the Third test; that Williams twice missed downwind two admittedly full-length kicks, one of which Bosch knocked on under his own bar; that Leslie seriously misread the situation at the Kritzinger scrummage; and that worst of all, the All Blacks took until the second half, having taken the wind in the first by choice, before they began to exert their talents in running the ball away from the giant Springbok pack.  

After explaining that Williams and Going should never have been allowed to handle the goal kicking he opinionates that the All Blacks did not inspire confidence running with the ball. That was so even though Robertson was clearly the star back in South Africa and the fact that Williams was still –even though lacking the speed he showed in 1970- very dangerous with ball in hand. The All Blacks also persisted with a “curious childlike belief in the value of midfield trusts”, according to McLean. He continuous:

These (midfield trusts) looked glamorous. But the looks were no better than skin deep. Morné du Plessis, often playing forward of the last line of feet, and Whipp and Oosthuizen formed a triad of defenders even the genius of Michael Gibson would seldom have beaten. These three, with their sever tackles, were the principal instruments of South Africa’s admittedly slightly murky glory. They had ardent supporters in such as Boland Coetzee, ever a faithful hand, and in Germishuys; and, of course, with Bosch to hand, they were assured that at the right opportunities there would be right reactions. 

McLean also has this paragraph in his narrative about the fourth test:

So to the darkness of disputation and defeat by the All Blacks. Their press conference the next day, which was taken by Stanley, John Stewart and Leslie, was a rumble and grumble of discontent. Forty-eight hours later, when they reached Auckland, the All Blacks exploded. Re-exploded might be the more apt word; they had been going off like rockets since no-side. Nothing would persuade them that they had been unfairly deprived of victory. Stewart made damning statements about South African Rugby which winged over the wires to the press of the Republic and which, looked at there, left no very favorable impression of Kiwi sportsmanship.  

The velocity of Kiwi grief after the match was so overwhelming that Springbok complaints were totally ignored, swiped off the table as totally irrelevant within the “larger” issues (read kiwi grousing) at stake. Nobody wanted to listen, consider or debate the validity of South African complaints that Bezuidenhout’s fixation –because of kiwi moaning and groaning after the previous test- with preventing a repeat of the front row collapsing in the 3rd test actually nullified any Springbok advantage in the scrums.

The Kiwi goalkicking deficiencies and the refereeing controversies aside, the fact that the tourists won so much usable ball, had so many try scoring opportunities yet failed to convert possession advantage and opportunity -in both the first and last test- into tries remain the most perplexing feature of this tour. Even more perplexing, for me, is the denial or inability of the kiwi rugby scribes to see and acknowledge this fundamental flaw (inability to built or construct tries and tactically adjust against good opposition) as the primary reason why the class of ’76 lost the series against South Africa.

18 September 1976 – South Africa 15 / New Zealand 14

The All Blacks did not impress after their loss in the third test. They won two mid week games (Upington and Kimberley) but did not really outshine weak opposition. They also looked lethargic and got drawn into some hustle and bustle in both games raising question about their focus and psycho-emotional equilibrium after 24 weeks on tour. They also lost against Orange Free State (15-10) in their only Saturday match. This gave rise to serious doubts about their ability to draw the series as they did not impress as a team which possessed the necessary motivation, cohesiveness and desire to take on a Springbok pack that dominated them in the third test.

The All Black test selection featured several changes to the line-up. Duncan Robertson was back on fullback after an uninspiring performance in that position in the first test. Two star performers during the second test namely Doug Bruce was back on flyhalf with Kevin Eveleigh replacing Ken Stewart on the side of the scrum. Frank Oliver was in at lock in the place of Hamish Macdonald for consistent good performances during the tour and a sterling game in Kimberley. Kent Lambert switched to loose head allowing Billy Bush to regain his place at tight head prop.

Dawie Snyman who did not impress in the second and third tests was replaced by Ian Robertson in the Springbok team. The big surprise and talking point was however the inclusion of a clearly overweight and unfit Klippies Kritzinger in the place of Theuns Stofberg.

Teams

No

South Africa

New Zealand

15 Ian Robertson Duncan Robertson
14 Gerrie Germishuys Bryan Williams 1 pen
13 Johan Oosthuizen Bruce Robertson
12 Peter Whipp Joe Morgan
11 Chris Pope Grant Batty
10 Gerald Bosch 1 drop, 1 con, 2 pen Doug Bruce 1 drop
9 Paul Bayvel Sid Going 1 try
8 Morné du Plessis (C) Andy Leslie (C)
7 Klippies Kritzinger  1 try Kevin Eveleigh
6 Boland Coetzee Ian Kirkpatrick 1 try
5 Moaner van Heerden Peter Whiting
4 Kevin de Klerk Frank Oliver
3 Rampie Stander Billy Bush
2 Piston van Wyk Tane Norton
1 Johan Strauss Kent Lambert
South Africa New Zealand
Penalties 7 5
Lineouts 11 18
Rucks 3 8
Tightheads 0 2
Replacements Mitchell for Batty after 67 minutes

Osborne for Morgan after 72 minutes

Referee Gert Bezuidenhout (Transvaal)
Crowd 75 000
Venue Ellispark

Where the scatting criticism and nationwide condemnation motivated the Springboks to a pitch in the third test the backs-to-the-wall situation confronting the All Blacks inspired one of the most courageous efforts by an All Black team in a final test of a four test series in South Africa.

There can be little doubt that the supreme post-match disappointment and supreme reaction exhibited by the team was directly related to the supreme effort they made to lift themselves to honor the supreme pride and respect they harbored for the traditions of their All Black rugby heritage. The All Blacks pitched-up and the result was that the rugby they dished-up was by far the best of the series. The New Zealand forwards in particular produced a performance that far outweighed the efforts by the backs. Terry McLean writes:

The New Zealand game plan warranted a deep examination because it suggested that the players had gone into the match not quite geared to its demands. So was wasted the mighty work of the forwards. At the line-out, they lagged 6-10 at the half. At the end, they had won 18 to 11, a magnificent achievement. Strauss, the iron man, was no problem to Lambert, who, in his own right, was a bit of an iron man himself. Norton took two heels from van Wyk and, powered by a scrum to which every man contributed a quality much superior to the standard reached by the backs.  

Whiting reached and delivered, Oliver, though much outweighted, was not outscored by de Klerk, and among them the back row men, Eveleigh, Leslie and Kirkpatrick, finished the game just short of exhaustion because of their valorous following, tackling, mauling and rucking.  

This was a mighty display by the forwards, one of the great events of the tour, and it was a grief and sadness that it was not suitably rewarded. But then, if a team in a test does not take its chances, who should it blame? The referee, as the All Blacks did, to a man, did? Or themselves, which they failed to do? 

The Al Blacks took an early lead when Going slipped blindside from a scrum near the left hand touchline after outfoxing Paul Bayvel with a dummy pass. He advanced several meters before Gerald Bosch got hold of his right arm but he was able to shift the ball to Norton as Bosch pulled him down. Norton gave two steps before pushing the ball to Kirkpatrick in the open wearing number 4 on his back. Kirkpatrick running hard sidestepped to his left a few yards from the goal line and went over close to the corner flag with Moaner van Heerden and Ian Robertson crashing in short like two 747 Boeing’s coming in too fast and too steep without their landing gear on.

See the Kirkpatrick try here.

Bosch landed a superb 40 meters drop goal two minutes later to put South Africa on the scoring sheet.

Neither side where able to achieve dominance in the next 20 minutes with play ebbing up and down on the field. After 30 minutes Going slipped around the open side from a maul close to the Springboks goal line and ducked again under tackles of Boland Coetzee and Kritzinger to score about eight meters from the right hand corner flag. The conversion taken by Going was unsuccessful.

This series of pictures shows Sid Going scoring his try after 30 minutes of play in the first half by ducking under Coetzee and Kritzinger.   

See the Going try here.

Going almost scored a second try but slipped just short of the tryline after breaking past Gerald Bosch as this picture shows.

It was near the end of the first half that the Springboks scored their one and only try from a scrum close to the left had touchline and only meters away from the All Black goal line. Klippies Kritzinger, who had swapped places with Morné du Plessis for this scrum picked-up the ball and surged over Eveleigh’s ankle- high tackle and swiveled his heavy frame through the arms of Doug Bruce and Joe Morgan to score. Bosch converted the try for South Africa to take the lead 9-8.

This sequence of pictures shows the Klippies Kritzinger try. The ‘boks outwitted the All Blacks at a 5-yards scrum to score this try. Krizinger packed at No8 and with the All Blacks focusing to prevent a blindside move. Kritzinger picked-up and crashed on the open side through the tackles of Kevin Eveleigh, Doug Bruce and Joe Morgan to score.  

See the Kritzinger try here.

Williams missed with a 50 meter penalty shortly hereafter and just before halftime Joe Morgan almost repeated his second test try. From a scrum Morgan sliced between Bosch and Whipp but was wrapped-up by Boland Coetzee five meters out.

Six minutes into the second half Doug Bruce landed a left foot drop goal after spinning around from an ill-directed Going pass. Two minutes later Bosch landed another penalty awarded against Billy Bush for South Africa to regain the lead 12-11.

 

Bruce Robertson who was involved in two obstruction incidents which should have resulted in at least one penalty try according to the Kiwi and most spectators for that matter which include the radio commentators (Afrikaans and English), John Vorster and Danie Craven. 

There was 26 minutes left on the clock when the most controversial incident in this match that would ultimately also define this tour and series ensued. From within their own 10 meter area Going went left putting Bryan Williams in space. Williams chipped ahead and Kevin Eveleigh running up in support re0gather the ball. Eveleigh ran a few meters and inside the Springboks 10 meter area throw a long netball-like pass to Bruce Roberson at full tilt. Roberson chipped ahead, the ball bounced and sat-up neatly about 1 meter from the goal line. Robertson had a clear run to the ball with Springbok cover defense at all sort to try and beat him to the ball. Just before Bruce Robertson could re-gather the ball Johan Oosthuizen (some sources reckon it was Ian Robertson) on cover defense held him just long enough around the shoulders for Peter Whipp to get to the ball first and dot it down. The All Blacks in person of Ian Kirkpatrick demanded a penalty try but referee Bezuidenhout only awarded a penalty. The International Law Book is quite specific: “A penalty try shall be awarded between the posts if, but for obstruction, foul play or misconduct by the defending team, a try would probably have been scored.”

This picture shows Kevin Eveleigh passing the ball. Eveleigh was the man who put Bruce Robertson in space in the move that led to the “infamous” Bruce Robertson-obstruction-incident in the fourth test.

Bezuidenhout maintained that he did not see the incident but the legitimate question by the All Blacks was why a penalty then and not a 5-meter scrum for Whipp carrying the ball over. In order to award a penalty he must have seen the incident.

See the Bruce Robertson obstruction incident here.

Both Robertson’s (Bruce and Ian) was involved in another obstruction incident which according to the Kiwis should have been a penalty try as well. The other incident was in the first half and was nowhere as clear-cut as the one in the second half. Doug Bruce chipped ahead and Robertson following through nudged the ball over the tryline. Bruce Roberson had a clear run to the line with no Springbok close enough to beat him to the ball. Springbok fullback Ian Roberson coming from the right -also on his way to the ball- bumped into Bruce Robertson inside the Springboks 22-meter area throwing him off balance for several strides just long enough for Chris Pope to pass them both and win the race to the ball.

See the first Bruce Robertson obstruction incident here.

Due to all the rouse about the penalty which should have been a try scarcely a word was said about the violence in the game. Batty had a go at Morné du Plessis early in the game and got a good clip later on for being a nuisance.

This picture shows Grant Batty coming of second best against Morné du Plessis in the fourth test.

True to form Moaner van Heerden did not steer clear from the nasty stuff. Moaner picked-up a wicked cut on the head, not, by accident one have to presume but was also involved in a fist chase in front of the main stand that evolved into a free-for-all punch-up. Word is Moaner head butted Kirky who took offence and chased him down the sideline swinging wildly with both hands while Moaner tiptoed backwards like a ballerina. As the Moaner/Kirky tangle started to quiet down Busch ignited another rally by pushing Strauss hard in the back. Lambert threw the best punch putting Kevin de Klerk down on the ground with a sweet right hook on the chin.

This picture shows the free-for-all stage just after Bush pushed Strauss hard in the back.

The Moaner/Kirkpatrick tangle can be seen here.

Piston van Wyk’s nose and cheek were strained with blood from a cut over the right eye as can be seen in the picture below. This was of course an accidental cut and not purposefully inflicted and had nothing to do with Norton winning the heel against the head contest 2-0. Piston and Tane Norton clearly liked each other as can been seen in the picture below.

A bleeding Piston van Wyk staring down Tane Norton (top photo). Norton won the tight head contest 2-0 making a statement that the ‘bok scrum was not all as superior as was thought after the third test. The Springboks had their own thoughts about that and argued that the referee nullified their scrum advantage with his obsession to prevent front row collapses.

Kevin de Klerk getting lifted in the line-out. The All blacks totally dominated the line-out in the second half –after working out de Klerk and starting to use the same ‘cheating’ tactics than the Springboks- eventually winning the contest 18-11 after having trailing 8-10 at half time. 

Morné du Plessis getting out foxed by Terry Mitchell. Du Plessis formed a rock solid defensive line with Whipp, Oosthuizen and Boland Coetzee in the midfield nullifying the All Blacks constant attempts to punch holes through the midfield. 

Four All Blacks that had a major impact on the ’76 tour. Top left is Frank Oliver. Top right is Peter Whiting. Bottom left shows Kent Lambert and Bottom right Kerry Tanner. 

Run of play

Minutes Event Score
5 Kirkpatrick try 0-4
7 Bosch drop goal 3-4
21 Going try 3-8
38 Kritzinger try. Bosch convert 9-8
46 Bruce drop goal 9-11
48 Bosch penalty, 31 meters 12-11
54 Williams penalty, 22 meters 12-14
70 Bosch penalty, 31 meters 15-14

Bosch was successful with all his attempts at goal. Williams missed penalties from 43 and 47 meters. Going missed with both conversion attempts.

Video footage summarizing the first half of the fourth test can be seen here.

Video footage showing the second half of the fourth test can be seen here.

’76 All Blacks – 23rd tour match

14 Sept 1976 – Griqualand West 3 / All Blacks 26

Referee Professor Tinkie Heyns was the unlikely –and unwilling, one might add- hero of the fixture in Kimberley.

Kimberley goes with the accolade as the place which featured the ugliest incident during the 1970 tour. A full scale riot resulted in 1970 after a vindictive white punched a coloured running on the field –after the match- trying to get close to his hero Bryan Williams.

There were some ugly incidents in the run-up to this match which set the stage for this fixture to potentially turn just as brutal on the field as the Upington game and just as violent after the game as the 1970 game. The persistent skirmishing during the 1976 game in Upington led to a punch-up that evening in one of the pups between some local supporters and a few of the All Blacks.

The 1970 game resulted in some racial conflict after the game and in run-up to the ’76 fixture in Kimberley the possibility of a repeat of either the ’76 (fighting between players and supporters) Upington scene or the ’70 post match scenes (racial violence) or both become a distinct possibility because of the nature of a number of pre-match incidents.

The All Blacks are in trouble on the field and their friends the coloureds are sorrowing. The coloureds sided with the All Blacks and went out of their way too meet and see their hero’s.

Taking the incidents preceding this match in Kimberley in order of occurrences there was first a scuffle in the cocktail bar of the Savoy hotel. A women sitting with two men attacked one of the men with a knife. Several All Blacks as well as AB manager Noel Stanley had a ringside view of these hostilities and only the intervening of a few journalists –escaping with some scratches and bruises- prevented this incident turning into something really nasty.

The fact that the incident reeked of disrespect for the dignity and well-being of other people could not escape the consciousness of the players. It is hard to treat people you play against (white South Africans or Afrikaners in general) with respect if you don’t respect them as a race/society anymore. It was the end of a long tour during which the Kiwi’s had been repeatedly disillusioned and disconcerted with lack of apathy between black and white and in general with Afrikaner mentality.

Next, JJ Stewart almost completely lost it when he saw the assistant hotel manager –and dual owner of the hotel where the All Blacks stayed- hurling a young coloured autograph hunter viciously to the ground in the hotel foyer just after the last mentioned took a picture of one of the All Blacks.

Stewart responded with anger; with his face inches away from the hotel owners’ he shouted: “No man does that to a human being, in my presence.” The situation was resolved in the assistant manager’s office but a substantial number of coloureds had gathered outside -by the time the cops arrived- silently but clearly unhappy watching proceedings unfold. The All Blacks went outside and started to mingle with them, signing autographs and generally treating them with acceptance and respect; this contributed to deflating a difficult situation.

All Black coach signing autographs for young fans. JJ Steward took serious offense when one of the coloureds were thrown to the ground by one of the hotel managers in the foyer of the hotel in which they stayed in Kimberley.

Into this mix was also the private dual between Frank Oliver and Hamish Macdonald for a spot in the test side as locking partner for Peter Whiting. Criticism against Macdonald was that he fades when things get hard. Oliver’s’ strength was his ability to brings fire to the pack. These two gents were paired together for this match -for only the second time in 23 matches- competing for a test place. The one out to show that he doesn’t fade when the going gets tough and the other one determined to confirm that he does make a difference to the pack with his fire and liveliness at mauls breakdowns and rucks.

The atmosphere was loaded, primed like an unstable powder-keg needing the slightest of sparks to ignite.

The match itself started off with fireworks similar to Upington and the situation was inches away from turning into yet another on the field bust-up with the potential to then spark some post-match violence. Tinkie Heyns with full appreciation of his duties took immediate and firm action and in doing so prevented a repeat of Upington 76 and Kimberley 1970. McLean writes:

Heyns was quick enough to see that from the second minute the fury in the Griquas’ forwards promised trouble. Lankester set at Leslie. Leslie responded. There was bitterness in the packs. Leslie was hit a second time. The punch was almost a knockout. Macdonald, not a man to be put upon or allow his teammates to be troubled, scrapped with young. It was the end of the road for Heyns. He spoke to both Leslie and Van As Jordaan and issued his general warning. “We knew then where we stood,” Macdonald said. “No sense in fighting after that. 

A little later in the match, Oliver found himself off-side at a maul (for which he was penalised) but Griquas flanker Jimmy Young -who had been very prominent in the first skirmish as well- let fly, and at, that very precise moment Heyns turned around saw the incident, and ordered Young off. McLean continues:

Young struck. He marched. Heyns was flustered, but firm. He was still flustered, later. He wondered at his career in refereeing. He could have been comforted by the sensible words of T.J. Botha in the Rand Daily Mail. “Professor Heyns’ decision,” T.J. said, “is an indictment of all those referees who have allowed players to start fights and go unpunished. If only one of them had had the courage to send off a player during any of those fight-marred games which followed the Northern Transvaal match, this tour would not have ended in the acrimony which has built up during the last month.” Hear, hear.

Referee Professor Tinkie Heyns has a ringside view as Hamish Macdonald leads with his left in the bout against Jimmy Young at Kimberley. Young was ordered off in the next round for hitting Frank Oliver. 

Interestingly, the fighting and brutality of the 1976 tour started during the Northern Transvaal game mainly as a result of inciting articles by John du Toit and Quintes van Rooyen. These articles in essence stirred players and spectators to take action by putting attention on the “bullying” behaviour of Billy Bush.

Specifically, these articles sort of questioned the manly hood of South African rugby players by stating that –up too the NTVL game- none of the SA teams were able to put Bush at his right place; suggesting between the lines that SA players were either too soft, too scared or not able to sort the bullies in the All Black team.

A tackle by Thys Lourens in front of the main stand on Billy Bush -during the NTVL game- was cheered out of normal proportions indicating that the articles did stir-up players and spectators regarding Billy Bush. The trend was set for the ensuing games. The unspoken but very clearly understood message, was, that any average provincial rugby player could become a folk hero by sorting Billy Bush or any other All Black, for that matter, that seemed a little aggressive or robust.

Jimmy Young ended up the fall guy by responding on the robust play of Macdonald and Oliver who in essence were just competing for a test spot. Oliver and Macdonald jumped mightily in the lineouts and dashed about like spare loose forwards. The difference between the two came in the tight, driving play.

Macdonald was good; Oliver was outstanding. He prompted Griquas scrumhalf Gert Schutte to declare that Oliver was the best driving forward he had encountered all season. Oliver’s mighty game was awarded with fourth test selection the following morning. The margin between agony and ecstasy was pretty slim because either Macdonald or Oliver could have been the ones who got the marching orders that day in Kimberley. As a result of the fighting Andy Leslie suffered a broken denture and prop Perry Harris sported a beaut of a black eye.

Several of the All Blacks later confided that they wouldn’t have been surprised if one of their own players got the marching orders as well.

The game itself was an entertaining conglomeration of errors. Entertaining – because the All Blacks threw the ball around gaily. This resulted in a stuttery performance with some 50/50 passes and an agonising number of handling mistakes but the Kiwis ran in some spanking good tries. Bruce Roberston impressed scoring one try and making a try for Terry Mitchell. The other try scorers were Neil Purvis (2) and flyhalf Duncan Robertson. Laurie Mains, however, played himself right out of contention for the test side. He was indecisive, fumbled around, and got caught in possession too many times and kicked poorly.

 

Lyn Jaffray in all sort of problems as the All Blacks tried to run the ball against solid defence. Daan Wiese (No 11) is around his knees while Tielman de Villiers is going high. 

Griquas’ only score was a penalty by winger Daan Wiese but did impress with their general structuredness and speed. Gert Schutte the Amazol and Griquas scrumhalf in particular made a good impression. Terry Mclean has the following on the Griqualand West team and Gert Schutte:

Griquas were too good a team to need to fight. Most impressive of their many qualities was speed. Every man raced to his job. The tackling was sharp.  

Dirk Slabbert lost only one heel on his own head, a compliment to the qualities and firmness of the packing. Gearge Cronje (2.03 m) and Van As Jordaan (1.98 m) made most effective use of their height and from go the whoa were confounded nuisance to all except Knight, who ripped about like a man determined to win a cap.  

Gert Schutte as a scrumhalf was outstanding quick. His pass to Tielman de Villiers on the right wing was so sharp that the later made 18 m and almost made the last five to the tryline. Quality here, no doubt of that; and one wondered why he had not reached higher than the reverse spot for two internationals.  

Stanley Esterhuizen, his partner, was nifty, too, and Tos Smith, playing his 156th game for his province, was a sound and effective back until the pace applied by the All Blacks, especially in the three quarters, became intolerable. 

Picture of Gert Schutte who made quite an impression on the Kiwis so much so that they unreservedly voted him the best scrumhalf they had seen on tour.

 

Griquas Captain and No8 is leaping high here while Jimmy Young on the left is trying his best to interfere with Leslie and Eveleigh.  

Teams

Griqualand West

All Blacks

15 Tos Smith Laurie Mains  
14 Henning Lubbe Terry Mitchell 1 try
13 Gerrie Pretoruis Bruce Robertson 1 try
12 Daan Wiese 1 pen Lyn Jaffray  
11 Tielman de Villiers# Neil Purvis 2 tries
10 Stanley Esterhuizen Duncan Robertson 1 try
9 Gert Schutte+ Lyn Davis  
8 Van As Jordaan (C) Andy Leslie (C)  
7 Kielie de Kock Kevin Eveleigh  
6 Jimmy Young= Lawrie Knight  
5 George Cronje Hamish Macdonald  
4 John Lancaster Frank Oliver  
3 Charl Joubert Perry Harris  
2 Dirk Slabbert Graeme Grossman  
1 John Harrison Kerry Tanner  
# replaced by Jock Sinclair after 79 minutes.

+ replaced by Henk Coetzee after 64 minutes

= ordered off after 37 minutes

 
Penalties

Lineouts

Rucks

Tightheads

12

8

2

1

10

17

6

1

Referee: Tinkie Heyns (Western Province); Crowd 8 000.

Run of play

Minute Event Score
29 Purvis try 0-4
34 Duncan Robertson try 0-8
45 Purvis try. Mains convert 0-14
47 Bruce Robertson try. Mains convert 0-20
54 Wiese penalty, 27 m 3-20
78 Mitchell try. Mains convert 3-26

Wiese missed two shots at penalty. De Villers tried a dropgoal attempt from a penalty and Esterhuizen missed with a penalty from 34 m. Mains missed two from 23 m and sliced a 43 m drop at goal from a penalty.

Oliver was one of four changes for Ellis Park. The others were the recall of Doug Bruce at flyhalf; the switching of Duncan Robertson from flyhalf to fullback in place of Kit Fawcett; the switching of Kent Lambert to loosehead prop for Perry Harris and Billy Bush at tighthead in place of Lambert.

The front row changes meant that the All Blacks went into the fourth test with their fourth front row combination (a different one for each test); Tanner and Lambert for the first test; Johnstone and Bush for the second; Harris and Lambert for the third and Lambert and Bush for the fourth.

’76 All Blacks – 22nd tour match

11 Sept 1976 – Orange Free State 15 / All Blacks 10

Front page news of the Sunday Rapport was a remark by All Black coach JJ Stewart apparently made in aftermath of  the Bloemfontein match: “I’ll be glad to get out of this stinking country.”

There were a number of things which probably contributed to this sentiment not least of all the reaction of the New Zealand media in response to the violence the kiwi’s encountered in their previous two matches (3rd test and the Upington match); the dreariness of the match and stay in Bloemfontein; the criticism that Stewart was responsible for causing a split down the middle of the team through faulty selections.

From the New Zealand media and Rugby Board came a volley of discontent and disapproval with the brutality encountered in the preceding two matches; from the South African rugby board came a solemn attempt to tidy up things on the playing field. This culminated in some extreme tedious refereeing which made the game in Bloemfontein an extreme tedious affair.

The Upington match was played on a Monday -due to a public holiday- and the All Blacks therefore arrived in Bloemfontein on the Tuesday spending 5 days in what they regarded a “deadly dull Afrikaner stronghold”. Affected by this they were deadly dull on the Saturday in glorious summer weather and produced according to Terry McLean “the worst performance he had ever seen by an All Black team”. McLean writes:

At an early stage, five minutes after kick-off, Max Baise called the captains together. There had been a flurry between the forwards, nothing serious, but disquieting because of the savage criticisms which were being made in New Zealand about, as that inflammatory journal Sunday News described them, “Springbok savages”, and which caused the Mayor and the Bishop of Auckland both to exclaim that in self-protection the All Blacks should be ferried home immediately. 

Max Baise took total control and produced an extreme monotonous demonstration of how to blow a game into nothingness; no fewer than 29 penalties were awarded amidst a constant barrage of peeps at almost every single scrum and lineout.

De Wet Ras kicked himself into oblivion in terms of ever coming close to a Springbok team again. No fewer than 14 times did he attempt place goals from penalties; more than half were from anywhere between 50 and 75 meters; successful with only three. He also missed with two drop kick attempts. Free State was awarded only 16 penalties –one turned around for talking back- which means that there was only one penalty which De Wet Ras didn’t take a place kick at goal. In total the goalkickers tried 20 shots at goal. A large part of this match was therefore nothing more than kickers going through the motions of setting up the ball, lining-up and kicking. Add to this the frequent stoppages for injuries and the ball going out of play the hold-ups for kicks at goal reduced the actual playing time to about 15 minutes. Many of the so-called injury stoppages smacked of gamesmanship, a ruse to break the other side’s concentration and rhythm on attack. 

I still remember the flatness of this match; it was during this match that I as a 14 year-old rugby fanatic lost complete interest in the 1976 tour. I can’t recall even listening to last two matches namely the match against Griqualand West and the fourth test. Frankly, I couldn’t care anymore who won the series. I was stupefied that a team like Free State –which was playing extremely exciting rugby in 1976-, could make such a mockery of the game.

Free State –a team that won the Currie Cup in ’76 with magnificent running rugby- did score an excellent try with Gysie Pienaar coming into the line to put Gerrie Germishuys in space. They (OFS) was clearly the better side on the day in terms of moving the ball and late in the second half they made slashing attacks, one of which should have been a try had the referee observed the obstruction by Alan Sutherland. Blithely to this fact –that OFS were the superior outfit with ball in hand and that the All Blacks were NAVI (NO Ambition F-all interest – an Army term) and fed-up (gatvol) almost beyond the point of remedy, and not present on the field- Wouter Hugo directed one goal kick after another turning the match into a De Wet Ras goal kicking circus.

Where Free State was exciting and enterprising with the ball in hand the All Blacks were awful and mucked-up opportunity after opportunity to win a match that they didn’t deserve to win. Terry McLean writes:

The All Blacks incomprehensively fired away a minimum of 12 and a probability of at least 18 points. Going hooked two easy penalties, one from 22 m in the first minute and another from 36 m in the 21st 

They were wretchedly bad kicks.  

In the second half, to compound these instances of ineptitude, the All Blacks threw away three tries.  

Williams had the goalline clear, 5 m ahead, but was nabbed. He passed to Sutherland, who was clear, but, rightly, Baise called his pass forward. Fawcett moved up the right touchline with Bruce Robertson and Mitchell alongside. It was a three to one situation; nothing could possibly have stopped Robertson from scoring. Nothing except Fawcett, who decided on one more Fancy-Dan sidestep and by so doing erased his name from the list of worthwhile contributors.  

Williams, really the only All Black worth a damn – though Davis manage some good efforts after he joined the Rip von Winkles on the field – slashed up the field, going like the clappers. But with every step off his left foot he veered further and further away from Robertson and closer and closer to a cover-defence which beyond halfway, gratefully clasped him. Leaving Robertson way out yonder, gazing like stout Cortez at wild, blue, entirely unpopulated yonder. 

As a consequence of the All Blacks playing like All Fools (using Terry McLean exasperation of annoyance) Free Sate became the third provincial side to topple the All Blacks. It was difficult to assess the merit of the win in relation to the performance by Western Province much earlier on tour simply because the All Blacks were nowhere as sharp in this fixture as they had been in the sixth match at Newlands.

Pressed for a rating, JJ Stewart gave Free State the accolade as the best provincial team. Many of the players still rated Western Province as the best side they played, while some of the forwards nominated Transvaal with its huge pack as the best they encountered. Transvaal and Northern Transvaal did produce some impressive and compelling –in intensity and efficiency- forward play against the tourist but the Free State pack’s ability to counter the All Black forwards was without a doubt key too the outcome of this match. The home pack with Ross van Reenen – a late replacement for Theuns Stofberg –having a cracker and well assisted by Klippies Kritzinger, Eben Jansen and Tiny du Plessis, took second half control and prevented the All Blacks from manufacturing a typical late comeback and against-the-run-of-play-victory-snatch.

Barry Wolmarans – reserve for all four tests- produced one of the best scrumhalf performances of the tour while Gysie Pienaar was all class, exciting whenever he touched the ball and brimming with energy. Gerrie Germishuys seized his one change and scored after receiving a ball picked-up by Gazelle centre Dirk Froneman as it spilled backwards from a tackle on Joggie Jansen. Jansen has lost some speed and power since 1970 but not his ability to read the game and made one good break which could have led to a try if Klippies Kritzinger were a few pounds or Kilograms lighter and half a yard faster.

Gerrie Germishuys evading Sid Going to score Free State’s only try. 

Kritzinger on 127 kilograms -although some newspapers reported he was down to 111 kg after having been told that he should get ready to take a place in the bok team for the fourth test- was the surprise inclusion on No7 in the Springbok team in the place of Stofberg who got injured just before this match. That newspaper report –that Klippies lost 16 kg in three weeks- and the fact that Kritzinger seemed not the least surprised when he was told by one of the Kiwis, the evening after the Free State match, that he made the Springbok team for the 4th test seems to suggest that Kritzinger’s inclusion was not an injury replacement but dicided on at least three weeks before the Bloemfontein match.

There was crying need for more mobility on the side of the scrum but once again the selectors opted for size and height no doubt part of a plan to counter the kiwi’s in the scrums, lineouts and mauls in the last test. The Kiwis (All Back touring party and media) were stunned by this decision of the Springbok selectors and Terry McLean has these delightful few paragraphs on the Klippies Kritzinger selection:

Klippies had been 127 kg about three weeks beforehand but in the interest of his candidature for the Fourth Test team which was to be announced in the evening (after the Free State match) and for which he had been proclaimed a certainty –there was some good information here among some of the Afrikaans writers- Afrikaans newspapers now said he weighed only 111 kg.  

Moving at about the maximum velocity of tuatara lizard, Klippies took a pass and headed for the corner 10 m distant. In no time Williams tagged him and Klippies crashed.  

Yet he still made the ‘Bok team that night, this despite the ample evidence that his so-called skill or genius as a lineout forward had been completely demolished by Macdonald.  

He was at the All Blacks’ party when one of the New Zealanders told him he made the Springbok team. Kritzinger shrugged offhandedly and burrowed into his bear. He, too, must have had good information. 

Klippies Kritzinger in the lineout for Free State against the 1976 All Blacks. Kritzinger was a surprise inclusion –for everyone else except for him – in the Springbok team for the 4th test that evening. 

Ken Stewart scored for the Kiwis in the 69th minute but it was too little too late. 

Bruce Robertson again impressed with his speed and playmaking ability in the match against the Free State. 

Teams

Free State

All Blacks

15 Gysie Pienaar Kit Fawcett  
14 Edrich Karntz Bryan Williams 2 pen
13 Dirk Froneman# Bruce Robertson  
12 Joggie Jansen Joe Morgan  
11 Gerrie Germishuys 1 try Terry Mitchell  
10 De Wet Ras 1 con, 3 pen Doug Bruce  
9 Barry Wolmerans Sid Going#  
8 Tiny du Plessis Alan Sutherland  
7 Ross van Reenen Ken Stewart 1 try
6 Eben Jansen Ian Kirkpatrick  
5 Kallie Joubert Gary Seear  
4 Klippies Kritzinger Hamish Macdonald  
3 Rampie Stander Billy Bush  
2 Wouter Hugo (C) Tane Norton (C)  
1 Martiens le Roux Perry Harris  
# replaced by Jan Schlebusch in the 72nd minute * Replaced by Lyn Davis just after half time
Penalties

Lineouts

Rucks

Tightheads

16

12

3

1

13

7

2

1

Referee: Max Baise (Eastern Transvaal); Crowd 40 000.

Run of play 

Minute Event Score
27 Williams penalty, 45 m. 0-3
30 Ras penalty, 40 m. 3-3
38 Germishuys try, Ras convert. 9-3
46 Ras penalty, 23 m. 12-6
50 Ras penalty, 36 m. 15-3
54 Williams penalty, 16 m. 15-6
68 Stewart try. 15-10

Ras missed with 11 penalty and two drop goal attempts. Going missed with two attempts at goal and Williams with one.

The Kiwis looked like a team shackled by end-of-tour fatigued and struggled through this match in a patternless display that reduced them to a team playing without heart or hope.

On the evidence of this performance, the All Black looked ready for the plucking with absolutely no change of saving the series. They had, at times, merely gone through the motions and the media speculated that Stewart would not be able to fire them up for the big one in Ellis Park.

To complicate matters even more there was also the diversionary matter of a 160 km coach trip to Kimberley and the match against Griqualand West before they could start focussing on the last test match.

The trip to Kimberley –with a seemingly unhappy team- was a thriller on its own producing a number of on and off the field incidents like punch-ups, knife stabbings, heated arguments, hypocrisy, and send-offs –not all involving players- that further detracted from preparations for the last test.

’76 All Blacks – 21st tour match

6 Sept 76 – North West Cape/South West Africa Combined 17 / All Blacks 34

This game against a combined team of North West Cape and South West Africa -played in Upington- produced some of the best running rugby on tour. By half time with the score a deceptive 24-7 in the favour of the All Blacks due to the brilliance of Bruce Robertson the Namib and Kalahari boys turned more and more too violent tactics in an attempt to unsettle the All Blacks. This spoiled what could have been a first-rate game as the desert boys had a pack that could stand up to the All Blacks and some real playmakers and speed in the backline.

In Johan Nel, Douvoet Heymann and Hennie Coetzee they had a front row equal in strength and vigour than the touring party; in Ian van der Merwe, Gys van Schoor and Jannie van der Westhuizen they had speed if not playmaking ability equal to the Kiwis and in Wolfie Wolfaardt, Arrie Putter and Chris Saayman a loose trio as industrious and abrasive at the breakdowns as the loose trio of visitors from the land of the long white cloud.

The desert boys rattled up 17 points in the first half –more than most other teams on tour- and actually equalled the All Blacks with 10 points in the second half. Herklaas Engelbrecht was an inspiring leader and a tower of strength in the lineouts, the mauls and at the breakdowns and the combined team was able to won three tight heads and was outscored at the rucks by only 8 to 5.

Behind the scrum Deon Karg –as most SA flyhalves those years- predominantly utilised his boot to explore attacking avenues. Despite this shortcoming, the outside backs of the combined team were full of running and if winger, Ian van der Merwe’s hands hadn’t let him down, the desert XV could have scored two more tries.

This is what Terry McLean writes about the combined North West Cape/SWA team:

There was an excellent fire in the combined team. Engelbrecht, a representative against every international team visiting these parts since the Lions of 1962, was shrewd and cunning hand in the lineouts and the three loose forwards, Saayman, Putter and Wolfaardt, were industrious and pretty clever. There was genuine energy in the backline, too, and that world record-holder on the right wing, Jannie van der Westhuizen, quite had the legs of Purvis when the latter made several attacking runs. (The record was 80 points set in a club match in 1972 – 14 tries, nine conversions, a drop goal and a penalty. Beat that for industry.)  

But the curse was that the team was overly attached to unfair methods and violent play. Eveleigh was a hideous sight as he left the field before half-time. His cheek opened by the Saayman kick and reopened by another punch. He was partly concussed. There was much other rugged stuff. It was tedious and unnecessary, the latter because none of the midweek teams faced by the All Blacks was more zealous or played with more fire.

Hennie Coetzee the tighthead prop was one of the major culprits; a mischief-maker of the first order; his sly and snide tricks push Billy Bush way over the cliff into a red-mist of battle rage bordering on total loss of emotional control. It was only the earnest pleading and persuasive appeal-making ability of both Herklaas Engelbrecht and Frank Oliver that kept him on the field.

The referee actually reversing a send off decision –due to the appeal-making of Oliver and Engelbrecht- after Bush went battle mad, firstly, stamping on a man in the ruck and then chasing Hennie Coetzee for ten or more yards right in front of a stand filled with school children before belting into a grinning Coetzee with fist, elbow, knee and foot. Coetzee was no angel and McLean has the following paragraph on this malefactor:

Coetzee bopped Tanner early with an elbow and for days Tanner’s shiner was a sight of the tour. When Bruce Robertson, playing brilliantly, kicked and threaded through the maze, Coetzee dropped him with a trip – and collected a slambang from Oliver. Coetzee was there or thereabouts, when Saayman, too good a forward to play the silly stuff, kicked Eveleigh on the face, a fraction below the right eye.  

Coetzee had been mischievous again when Bush started punching him. Coetzee, in fact, was a damned nuisance, not only for the All Blacks but also to his team – which, in spite of its predilection for tough play, had many fine qualities.

Some pictures of a raging mad Billy Bush in the Upington game. In the bottom picture Billy is about to release a right swinging hook from the boot laces on to Hennie Coetzee. In the right hand edge of the picture Schubel O’Reilly is blowing on his whistle. O’Reilly was so disgusted by the violence that he decided to retire from the game as a referee.

Jay Jay Stewart the All Black coach was vivid during and after the match. While Kevin Eveleigh was stitched-up in the dressing room during the match an angry Stewart vented his anger to the extent that the young Upington doctor finished the operation in tears.

Stewart argued quite convincingly afterwards that until the brutal moments of the third test and the ugly stuff in Upington the tour had been free of violent play. His point that one could hardly blame the kiwis for the violence in the last two games if there was no sign of it in the previous nineteen. “We are the common denominator in the whole question. Our aim on this tour has been, and will continue to be, to play good football. Punching, kicking and gouging has no place in our game. But if your teams start the nonsense you can’t expect our chaps to stand by and do nothing about it though I am disappointed at the way things have gone”.

Kevin Eveleigh taking on the NW Cape/ SW Africa team. This was before he was punched and kicked into submission and leaving the field in the 40th minute. The home team players on the picture are from the left Willem Gillmer, Douvoet Heyman, Jan Miller and Wolfie Wolfaardt.

Ken Stewart look like he’s got his handbrake on as he charged down field in the Upington game with Gary Seear running up in support.

The stamina-sapping heat of Upington; the resilience and abrasive tactics of the opponents made this a hard assignment for the Kiwis so soon after the demoralising third test defeat. The All Blacks did start the match in style and Bruce Robertson was outstanding. His speed and playmaking skills distinguished him as an All Black in the class of Bryan Williams and Grant Batty.

The first try by Terry Mitchell followed a Robertson break; the second try by Lyn Jaffray was also inspired by a Robertson trust; the fourth try also by Mitchell came from a scorching Robertson break; and the fifth try by Sutherland was the direct result by a perfect kick through by Robertson.

Sutherland and Mitchell both scored twice with Jaffray also crossing the goal line to dot down. His fighting rage incident aside Billy Bush impressed with his work rate in the tight-loose, Frank Oliver was industrious in the lineouts while Lawrie Knight had a good game with the ball in hand.

There was therefore much to savour for the Kiwis after this match but the fighting had a demoralising effect on team spirit and probably played a big part with regard to the team being totally flat in their next match in Bloemfontein against the Orange Free State.

Alan Sutherland putting his shoulder into Johan Nel in the NW Cape/SW Africa match. Sutherland scored two tries in this match making him one of the top try scorers amongst the forwards.

It is unfortunate that the All Blacks was whisked away almost immediately after the game to boring Bloemfontein as there is much to do, see and experience in the Kalahari that could have lifted team morale. Four All Blacks, Ian Kirkpatrick, Grant Batty, Hamish Macdonald and Tane Norton for instance went hunting deep in the Kalahari.

They shot two Gemsbok and was treated to a midnight braai and slept outside in the desert. They rated it one of the great experiences of the tour and it is pity that not more players could have joined in a few days of recuperating in the wonderland of the Kalahari desert.

Tane Norton and Hamish Macdonald posing with a Gemsbok that got shot by the four kiwis able to spend a few days in the Kalahari. 

 

Some typical scenes one would see as you travel from Upington into the Kalahari.Teams

Leopards

All Blacks

15 Johan Smuts –SWA 1 pen Laurie Mains 4 con, 2 pen
14 Jannie v/d Westhuizen – NWC Neil Purvis  
13 Dagga Engelbrecht -SWA Bruce Robertson  
12 Gys van Schoor – SWA Lyn Jaffray 1 try
11 Ian v/d Merwe – NWC Terry Mitchell 2 tries
10 Deon Karg – SWA 2 pen Doug Bruce  
9 Willem Gillmer – SWA Lyn Davis  
8 Arrie Putter – NWC Alan Sutherland (C) 2 tries
7 Chris Saayman – SWA 1 try Kevin Eveleigh*  
6 Wolfie Wolfaardt – SWA Lawrie Knight  
5 Herklaas Engelbrecht (C) – NWC Frank Oliver  
4 Jan Miller – SWA Gary Seear  
3 Johan Nel – SWA Billy Bush  
2 Douvoet Heyman – NWC 1 try Graeme Crossman (C)  
1 Hennie Coetzee – SWA Kerry Tanner  
* Replaced by Ken Stewart after 40 minutes
Penalties

Lineouts

Rucks

Tightheads

15

6

5

3

11

13

8

4

Referee: Schubel O’Reilly (Northern Transvaal); Crowd 8 000.

Run of play 

Minute Event Score
11 Mitchell try. Mains convert 0-6
15 Mains penalty, 27 m. 0-9
23 Jaffray try. Mains convert. 0-15
27 Mains penalty, 41 m. 0-18
30 Karg penalty, 31 m. 3-18
31 Sutherland try. Mains convert. 3-24
35 Saayman try. 7-24
47 Mitchell try. 7-28
55 Heymann try 11-28
57 Sutherland try. Mains convert. 11-34
68 Karg penalty, 36 m. 14-34
75 Smuts penalty, 50 m. 17-34

Karg failed with one penalty attempt and Smuts with three. Mains missed two penalties in the second half.

1976 tour – Third test

4 September 1976 – SA 15 / All Blacks 10

The series was square -one test all- and the third test was therefore of critical significance for both sides. As is often the case with so much at stake it was a brutal affair.

The tempers flared.

Tension related jittery movements caused heaps of unforced errors during the match while tentative decision making and mind boggling unintelligent option taking, incompetence and idiotic mistakes manifested itself at crucial stages before and during the test.

This test could be labeled the error-ridden test or the violence test –take your pick.

In terms of violence it was intense and Going later said it was the toughest test of his career. Not dirty; but the label violent justifiable based on a number of brutal occurrences before, during and after the match.

There was the teargas incident before the test, the Moaner van Heerden stepping and dust-up incidents during the test and the Johan Strauss head butt incident after the match (more about this in the section entitled before and after match incidents). In the final analyses the test was won by the side most desperate to win -which was South Africa- but that desperation resulted in questionable tactics and application to the extent that it was no victory for SA rugby, according to Terry Mclean. McLean writes:

South Africa deserved to win the match. The probability of her victory had strengthened as one critic after the other screamed through the preceding week at the incompetence of Professor Johan Claassen and his selection committee and at the corresponding incompetence of the Springbok team the selectors had chosen.  

It was not possible to believe that young, ardent and proud men invited to play for their country would suffer these insults –as many were- without feeling a powerful revulsion against the critics and an even more powerful determination to blast their eyes and damn their bloody souls.  

He also writes that the South African tactics and the blemishes of the South African referee –such as turning a blind eye to certain practices of the home team- smeared South Africa’s reputation as a sporting nation. The expression of team tactics and referee blemish was in McLean’s words a statement spiritual in its dept, of the South African determination not to be beaten. This was nationalism, Afrikanerdom more likely, bared before all witnesses. It was neither warming nor charming.

McLean also state: South Africa did not win entirely by these (foul) methods, though they were undoubtedly helped, but they did themselves and the rugby of their country a grave disservice. 

The main complaint of the kiwis was new prop forward Johan Strauss. Not only did he lift Kevin de Klerk in the lineouts but he used illegal tactics to force the scrums to collapse on kiwi put-ins. Even though Carwyn Jones the 1971 British Lions coach believed the Springboks achieved little advantage from Strauss’s tactics –which he described as both dangerous and illegal – this disruption of the scrum took All Black playmaker Sid Going out of the match. The confident general lauded as the mastermind of the All Black second test victory stumbled and slid down the slope of mediocrity as a result of the All Black scrum being repeatedly disrupted at Newlands.

Terry McLean main story line –that the methods used to ensure victory epitomized Afrikaner nationalism desperation- seems to be based on the referee Gert Bezuidenhout’s unwillingness or reluctance to take control with regard to the brutal stepping tactics of Moaner van Heerden; the illegal scrummaging methods of Johan Strauss; the lifting of Kevin de Klerk; the glaringly obvious foot-up tactics of Piston van Wyk and awarding Snyman a dropkick which had swung outside the right-hand upright. The way Bezuidenhout “deliberately” positioned himself at scrums and lineouts so that he “could not see” the infringements of the Springboks bordered for McLean on criminal and was for him offensive to the spirit of rugby.

McLean might just have been a little wrapped-up in post match disappointment when he wrote his piece on the third test. It is hard –even for modern day referees- to determine exactly what is going on in the scrums and the Springboks contented that Strauss scrummed within the laws and that it was his intense strength and scrummaging expertise that caused Harris to wilt, buckle and collapse so often.

Referees are human too and not immune to the tension and mental strain of the occasion and are therefore just as prone as coaches and players to make mistakes in such extremely loaded situations. McLean would have been more accurate or at least more reasonable and fair in his assessment if he took a deep breath and stepped away from his prejudged Afrikaner nationalism mindset theory and interpreted happenings and occurrences from the perspective of tension and human error.

Benefitting from 34 years of post match emotional detachment and from having had at least 15 years –since the abandonment of Apartheid- to come to grips with 30 years of personal Afrikaner nationalism indoctrination it seems more sensible for me to analyze this test from the perspective of it being the error-ridden test. Not only were the two tries scored the result of errors but the scrum vows of the Kiwi’s seems to stem from selection errors made by the New Zealand coach Jay Jay Stewart.

Piston van Wyk’s foot flashed out like a striking rattlesnake but was never penalised for foot-up, according to Terry McLean. Powered though he was by a huge pack, van Wyk beat Norton only once in a contest on Norton’s head and in turn was beaten himself once -a commentary on his inadequate technique and his venerable years writes McLean sounding just a little bitter. 

Stewart made as many as four changes to the victorious second test line-up. Kevin Eveleigh had been dropped for Ken Stewart and Doug Bruce for Duncan Robertson. These players had been linchpins of the Bloemfontein victory; Bruce’s tactical kicking and Eveleigh’s speed of the side of the scrum had disrupted the Springbok inside backs.

The crucial selection error was however in the frontrow. The situation had been complicated by injuries and illness and Stewart made selections choices based on his believes that neither Billy Bush -injured ankle- nor Kerry Tanner – recently recovered from mysterious bug illness- would be able to stand-up to the rigors of test level scrummaging.

In he brought the totally inexperienced Perry Harris on loosehead while first choice loosehead Kent Lambert were moved to the tighthead position. It was a huge gamble with both frontrowers and it cost New-Zealand dearly as Transvaal strong-man Johan Strauss buckled, bent and finally destroyed his opposite number, and the ill effect spread through the rest of the team.

Davis and Harding in their book “Toughest of them all” opiniates that the deciding moment of the ’76 series was when the Springbok selectors finaly got it right and selected Strauss and Kevin de Klerk in the pack. This selection resulted in the Springboks dominating the set piece (scrum and lineout) to the extent that NZ couldn’t get into the game. The impact of that selection was undoubtedly amplified by the fact that the tourist got it wrong with their frontrow selection. The inexperienced Harris (on the far end furthest from the camera on the right) and Kent Lambert (on the left) selected out of position had a torrid time in the scrums.  

Trouble up front for the Kiwi’s in the third test 

 

Struggling in the set piece the NZ halfbacks was under extreme presure with Boland Coetzee a real menace through-out the match. Here Coetzee chase onto Duncan Robertson (on the left) and cramp-in Going (on the right).

The Kiwi scrummaging problems was not helped by the fact that Whiting’s right ear was almost ripped off by the boot of Moaner van Heerden in the 59th minute. First a strip of plaster was put around the head. Later a second strip was wrapped on and still later a third strip. After the match six stitches were required to re-attach the ear but the wound impacted on Whiting’s play as it was painful and it stopped him from applying pressure upon his prop as he packed into the scrums.

Moaner van Heerden also kicked Sid Going in the head in the 27th minute. McLean writes as follows about the Moaner incidents:

Going rose up and for all that he was outweighed in pounds and overborne in height, he whaled into van Heerden, driving him with hard, shrewd punches to the body down the field. Along the way, someone biffed Moaner van Heerden on the left cheek, a good punch.  

Whiting did not react so strongly, for the adequate reason that his right ear, as he stood up, was spouting blood and hanging from his head. 

See footage of Going charging into Moaner here with the New Zealand commentator totally confused at who is to be the guilty stepper.

 

A determined and vivid Hamish Macdonald (subscript says Ian Kirkpatrick but No 4 was one of the locks) in process of sorting out Moaner van Heerden after he almost raked Whiting’s ear of his head.

Being the astute observer that he was McLean was not at all oblivious to the fact that New Zealand contributed to their own demise. He writes:

The All Blacks aided the South African cause by committing Rugby’s version of hara-kiri. It was stupid of Sid Going to miss three attempts at penalty goals, two downwind, one up, from within 30m or less of the goalline. 

It was damn silly of Going and Duncan Robertson, who admittedly were placed under constant and severe pressure, to mull passes and catches.  

It was idiotic for Duncan Robertson, Morgan and Fawcett to attempt to thread through a defence that was poised, quick and valiant. It was breathtaking –like a kick in the solar plexus- for Williams, Bruce Robertson, Stewart and countless others, to miss tackles, especially when the superior efforts of the Springboks could be constantly observed. 

Teams

  Springboks All Blacks
15 Dawie Snyman Kit Fawcett
14

13

12

11

Chris Pope

Johan Oosthuizen

Peter Whipp

Gerrie Germishuys

1 try Bryan Williams

Bruce Robertson

Joe Morgan

Grant Batty*

2 pen

1 try

10

9

Gerald Bosch

Paul Bayvel

1 con; 2 pen Duncan Robertson

Sid Going

8

7

6

Morné du Plessis (C)

Theuns Stofberg

Boland Coetzee

Andy Leslie (C)

Ian Kirkpatrick

Ken Stewart

5

4

kevin de Klerk

Moaner van Heerden

Peter Whiting

Hamish Macdonald

3

2

1

Johan Strauss

Piston van Wyk

Rampie Stander

Kent Lambert

Tane Norten

Perry Harris

Lineouts

Rucks

Tightheads

Penalties

8

2

1

11

13

9

1

11

The match official was Gert Bezuidenhout (Transvaal); Match attendance was 47 000.

Run of play

Minutes Event Score
7 Bruce Robertson try 0-4
15 Bosch penalty, 34 m 3-4
25 Williams penalty, 54 m 3-7
31 Bosch penalty, 27 m 6-7
57 Oosthuizen try, Bosch convert 12-7
73 Williams penalty, 31 m 12-10
75 Snyman dropgoal, 31 m 15-10

Bosch missed penalties from 40, 43, 18 and 22 meters. Williams missed one from 52 meters. Going missed penalties from 18, 25 and 31 meters. Going was disallowed to kick a penalty by the referee because he took too long as a result of the ball falling over three times.

The Springboks began with tremendous zest and although they conceded the first try –an opportunistic effort by Bruce Robertson- they played throughout with greater fire, used better tactics and took less risks.

Boland Coetzee taking the ball up. The Springboks started with lots of zest and passion and played with greater desperation and fervour throughout the match.

The Bruce Robertson try in the 7th minute resulted from two mistakes by the South African wingers Chris Pope and Gerrie Germishuys. First, Pope kicked a ball that he should have popped over the sideline high over the forwards down the throat of Kit Fawcett; with nobody to chase Fawcett sent it back with interest; into no-man’s-land behind Germishuys.

Germishuys turning around to get the ball first tried to run out of trouble and when he got caught he flicked the ball back in the direction of Dawie Snyman. Robertson was at hand and he dribbled the ball in the direction of the Springbok goalline and had no trouble outsprinting Dawie Snyman in the race to the ball to score the first try of the match.

The Bruce Robertson try can be seen here.

This series of pictures show the first try. First, Germishuys got caught and held up with a hand around his throat. Look how ineffectively Johan Oosthuizen joins the situation; upright in no position to drive forward and no attempt to get his hands on the ball. The next series of pictures shows Robertson toeing the ball forward and him and Snyman chasing after it.

The all Blacks were still leading with the Springboks finding it very difficult to breach their defence in the 57th minute of the match when New Zealand made a crucial error in judgment which effectively ended their challenge to win the series.

Electing not to play percentage rugby -while ahead- the All Blacks spun the ball from a lineout inside their own half. Duncan Robertson moved the ball on to Joe Morgan as Kit Fawcett raced up to take the pass at centre, Bruce Robertson sprinting ahead as a decoy. It was the same move from the same situation which put the All Blacks ahead 27-26 against Northern Transvaal. That was a desperate situation as compared to the situation in the test where NZ was in the lead and South Africa chasing.

Bruce Roberson wasn’t far enough ahead as Morgan threw the pass and Fawcett wasn’t properly balanced as he came in at speed to take it. It is not clear whether the ball bounced off his shoulder or whether he knocked it backwards with his hands as he reached for it but the ball leaped way from Fawcett and hang in the air for a moment. Johan Oosthuizen swooped in on it in a flash and raced towards the New Zealand goalline only about 30 meters away.

Top: Johan Oosthuizen on his way to the goalline after intercepting the ball. Bottom picture: dotting down with Duncan Robertson too late.

The Johan Oosthuizen try can be viewed by clicking on this link.

South Africa forwards held the initiative from here on and Bosch and Bayvel made sure to keep the ball in front of the pack and that the game were played in the New Zealand side of the field, during the last quarter.

Few of the All Blacks played well. Going, Duncan Robertson, and Fawcett had dreadful games in the backline and the forwards never achieved the control they had enjoyed at Bloemfontein.

Some before and after match occurrences

The Cape Times preview on the morning of the third test had put the question: “Are the All Blacks just another good team or are they the most successful side to come to South Africa – today will tell.”

Alan Sutherland remembering it walked into the cocktail party after the match and said: “I regret to say, men, that we are just another good team. We are not the greatest.” 

The South Africans -to use a boxing term- came off the ropes fighting as the heavily criticized team went into the third test and an event that evening epitomized the attitude of mind of the South Africans, for Terry McLean. Alan Masters, an Englishman who managed the Springboks hotel was head butted that evening by Johan Strauss for making the fatal mistake of telling one of the Springboks –with Strauss listening in- that he felt Kevin de Klerk was lifted in the lineouts.

Demonstrations continued throughout the All Black stay in Cape Town with the main street Adderley Street being closed down for several hours on both the Thursday and Friday. Until Cape Town, the All Blacks had viewed the unrest and the reports of rioting with a sympathetic but, nonetheless, detached air.

The strikes, however, took on a new meaning for at least two members of the party on the Friday before the test. Ian Kirkpatrick, Bryan Williams and at least two Kiwi journalists attended a lunch-hour book signing session at a store in the city centre. Minutes after the book signing riots broke out and the police tear gassed the whole area.

Running blindly after having swallowed large gulps of teargas Kirkpatrick and Bryan Williams was eventually recued by police (see photo below).

Picture showing Kirkpatrick in a police wagon getting treated after being exposed to teargas.

Kirkpatrick was violently sick on his return to the hotel, while the rest of the kiwi’s involved were badly shaken-up by the incident.

Severely disappointed that the dream of winning a series in South Africa was done and dusted and with mounting frustration regarding referees and with some unhappy squad members –overseen for positions in the test side- like Kerry Tanner, Laurie Mains, Kevin Eveleigh and Doug Bruce the All Blacks travelled into Upington. Here the irritation and frustrations culminated into a big dust-up with desert hardened Namib and Kalahari boys who seemd more intend on sorting the All Blacks out with big tackles and some stolen punches than playing the game.

Some action pictures from the third test

 
Top: Bayvel preparing to kick. He and Bosch kept the ball before their forwards.

Middle: Going slipped into mediocrity as a result of playing behind a struggling scrum and under scrutiny of Boland Coetzee.

Bottom: Dawie Snyman again didn’t impress.

Top: Oosthuizen passing.

Middle: Springboks on the charge. The boks played with passion and determination and were dominant at the tackle area.

Bottom: A determined Stofberg charging into the cavalry.

Top: Going didn’t have a good day with the boot and couldn’t land one penalty.

Middle: Is that lifting in the lineout. Kevin de Klerk being supported by Strauss.

Bottom: Moaner van Heerden Charging into Mcdonald and Kirkpatrick after a kick-off.

The face of Morné du Plessis showing the strain of test rugby.