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Springboks…The Greatest Rivalry 1965 and 1970 Test Series

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In our third part of the greatest rivalry in rugby we look at the 1965 and 1970 tours between the Springboks and the All Blacks.

The Springboks arrived on June 27, 1965 from Brisbane via Auckland at Gisborne, where they were warmly welcomed by about 2000 people. There were a few protestors with posters against the tour, but the warmth and enthusiasm of the reception left the South African with a warm feeling around the heart.

Dawie de Villiers and Nellie Smith, utterly sincere, smiled and said it was like coming home.

First test – 31 July 1965 Athletic Park in Wellington

It was a test of missed opportunities. A test of controversy. A test almost won, against all odds, by South Africa.

True to form Athletic Park in Wellington was a swamp on test day. The weather was heavy and overcast; the field was a mud bath after two days of sustained rain; a gale force, 50 mile per hour cold southern wind, was blowing to top it off.

The Springboks -after a series defeat in Australia and having already one lost of their 8 tour matches in New Zealand- were given no change to win.

Five of the Springboks in the test side played in the 1960 series against the All Blacks in South Africa, namely Lionel Wilson, John Gainsford, Keith Oxlee, Lofty Nel, and Abe Malan.

The All Blacks selected no newcomers in their original team to play in this first test but injuries to Malcolm Dick and Waka Nathan opened the door for rookie Bill Birtwistle on the right wing and the return of Dick Conway (No. 6) which last played test rugby in 1960.

Wilson Whineray was brought back to captain the side after he only played club rugby in 1964.

Whineray, Conway, Colin Meads and Tremain all played for the All Blacks in the 1960 series against South Africa. Brain Lochore – destined to captain the 1970 All Blacks touring to South Africa- was on no 8 and Chris Laidlaw who would also tour to South Africa in 1970 was on scrumhalf. Colin Meads and his brother Stan was on lock for the All Blacks

De Villiers won the toss and decided to play against the wind in the first half. With the wind from behind the All Blacks were on the attack from kick-off.

After only 5 minutes of play Laidlaw fed Murdock (No. 10) on the blindside after a scrum on the Springboks goal line. Willament slipped into the line from fullback to create the man over and Birtwistle darted over to score in the corner.

The All Black forwards were in total control from the beginning and with the wind from behind most of the game took place in the Springboks half of the field. Gainsford and Roux’s defence was, however, rock solid.

Gainsford in particular had the All Blacks centres at sixes and sevens with the quality and vigour of his tackling.

The second try started when Conway picked up a ball thrown to the back of the lineout and charged for the line. It looked as if he scored when he was forced to the ground by the defenders on the Springboks goal line.

The referee, however, decided he fell short and from the ensuing scrum, the All Blacks attempt to repeat the move which produced the earlier try.  This time de Villiers saw it coming and he tackled Willimant when he joined the backline; the ball spilled forward in the tackle.

Tremain (No. 7) was first to gather the ball and plunged over the Springboks try line near the right hand corner.

 

With the wind from behind the Springboks were able to start put pressure on the All Blacks in the second half; seven minutes into the second half Oxlee landed a drop kick following a five yard scrum right in front of the New Zealand posts.

He missed a further attempt after 16 minutes and with a third attempt after 22 minutes. The Springboks were camping in the New Zealand half of the field but the All Black pack, playing into the gale, was outstanding limiting the Springbok opportunities and the Springbok backline saw very little ball.

Naude was short with a long penalty kick and Roux knocked a pass from Ellis with a clear run to the goal line.

In the final minutes with the Springboks on the attack, Gray and Whineray brought the crowd to their feet with spontaneous and sustained applause when they combined in a burst upfield from a line-out gaining 50 meters before being stopped.

It was a fitting end to a match dominated and won by New Zealand forward superiority; the strength, structure and cohesiveness of the New Zealand pack were the difference between the two sides.

Final score: All Blacks 6 / South Africa 3

21 August 1965 – Second test – Carisbrook Dunedin

The All Black coach Neil McPhail was concerned about over confidence and as a caution against super-optimism got the team together to express his concerns and to warn them against the dangers of being to sure of themselves.

In support Colin Meads testified that in comparison with his dream easy encounter with Naude, in the first test, he found Goosen –who was selceted for the second test- in the subsequent game, a lot tougher and much more challenging.

He also pointed to the fact that in spite of New Zealand donimating the first test there was only 3 points difference between the two teams, at the end.

The Springbok team for the test were:

Wilson; Engelbrecht; Gainsford; Roux, Brynard; Oxlee; Smith (Captain); Nel; Schoeman; du Preez; Goosen; Ellis; MacDonald; Malan; Van Zyl. Nelie Smith again played in place of Dawie de Villiers who left the field concussed in the last match – against Auckland- before the 2nd test.

The New Zealand selectors made only one change to the team that won the first test. Ray Moreton was brought on inside centre (second five-eight) in place of John Collins.

Heavy rain fell non-stop for 24 hours leading up to the match. The field was consequently a mud bath making the game a messy affair in many ways. The backline play was messy, the lineouts were messy, the scrums were messy and the players were messy mud plasterd wresling phantoms by halftime.

The wet, greasy playing surface also eliminated the Springboks main attacking weapon namely their dangerous backline. Unforced handling errors and scrappy/sloppy frantic struggles to control the slippery ball was typical in both teams –more so in the Springbok side.

Oxlee knocked the ball several times at No10 and was clearly totally out of his depth in the mud. Murdoch the NZ No10 also had difficulty catching the muddy slippery ball on one or two occasions but generally had a significantly better game mainly because he ran with speed onto the ball.

Oxlee in contrast was tentative and hesitant and often spun round 180 degrees in process of catching the ball because he caught it with his arms and not with his hands. 

The few times the ball was despatched down the Springbok backline –and not knocked on- Gainsford looked dangerous; he was fast, ran straight and on at least two occations breaked away in such a way that it could have lead to tries if the last pass didn’t went astray.

Mannetjies Roux –like the rest of the backline- didn’t get much opportunity but on the two or three occasions that the ball did go to him he had an unsettling effect on the backline; running either not straight or clinging too long onto the ball -trying to do to much- instead of just shifting the ball.

Final Score: New Zeland 13 / South Africa 0

September 4, 1965 – Third test – Lancaster Park

A interesting relationship developed between Danie Craven, the media and the New Zealand public during the 1956 tour –when Craven was coaching the side. Adoration and apprehension probably the best way to desbribe the curious fascination they had with the man.

They adored him for his dedication, his competiveness and the excitement he brought, by posing a real challence but they were apprehensive because of the uncertainty within that very challenge; the fear of not being able to overcome the challence or that their beloved All Blacks might lose. Craven was literally front page news -on a daily basis- in 1956.

A man they loved to hate and in 1965 he was treated like royalty on arrival in New Zealand.

The Springbok team was announced and 5 changes were made to the team that played in the 2nd test; De Villiers in for Smith; Barnard for Oxlee; Hopwood for Schoeman; Naude for Goosen; Walton for Malan. Naude in all probability for his place kicking with Oxlee and Mans –the only two reliable place kickers- not playing.

The team was: Wilson; Brynard; Roux; Gainsford; Engelbrecht; Barnard; de Villiers (Capt); Hopwood; Ellis; Du Preez; Naude; Nel; Macdonald; Walton; van Zyl.

Only one change was made to the New Zealand side with Malcolm Dick –hitherto on the injured list- brought in for Smith on the wing

The day after the announcement of the team Naude, du Preez and Ellis were put to work as goalkickers. Naude was goodish, du Preez was a little beter and Ellis was hopeless.

Danie Craven ran the team practice but the session did not impress McLean at all.

This test was described afterwards as the most dramatic comeback in the history of world rugby. After New Zealand took a commanding –even regarded as an unassailable- half time lead of 11 point (16-5) South Africa came back to score 14 points in the second half. The match had drama and suspense.

South Africa’s first try in the series in response to a try by NZ in the first 5 minutes to take an early lead; NZ running away with the score board thereafter -in the first half- with a opportunistic try and some good place kicking; South Africa scoring 3 spectacular tries from set play in the second half; good defense preventing some incredible backline created scoring opportunities.

An out of this world, almost impossible, penalty kick by Tiny Naude in the last 3 minutes, with a wet ball out of a muddy patch, to edge ahead on the scoreboard; desperate attacking by New Zealand in the last 2 minutes and a impossible and agonizingly slow, time wasting, place kick by Naude, from the half line, in the dying minutes just to miss and see New Zealand starting to run from their own goal line, breaking through several tackles, before the ball spilled loose, allowing Roux to hoof it over the side line.

Gainsford’s first try came from the ensuing scrum and was actually the result of a bit of a mix-up, in the Springbok backline.

The Springboks forwards were going for a push-over scrum. When their forward momentum got checked the ball went in a flash from de Villiers to Barnard.

Barnard drifting sideways, with the incoming ball, almost ran into Roux, who in an attempt to avoid a collision started to hang back and cross behind Gainsford; standing outside him but very close.

This pulled the All Black defenders on 10 and 11 (the inside centre then) together and had them drifting sideways towards Gainsford. Barnard realizing he is going to collide with Roux popped the ball past Roux to Gainsford who instinctively stepped off his left foot passing in the process on the inside of the All Black numbers 10 and 11, bunched together, and charging at him.

This placed the AB numbers 10 and 11 between Gainsford and his immediate opponent. Gainsford straightened in  two or three strides, then chopped left a second time -inside the incoming cover defense- and in a few swift strides went over for a classic try.

The scores were even in the 23 min and Hopwood was screaming at the forwards, smashing a clenched fist into an open palm. Ellis made a long kick down the field. The Springbok backs charged after the ball and Barnard hacked it ahead. Laidlaw on cover was rushed into a hasty clearance kick, which was short, and caught by Wilson.

Colin Meads in a desperate attempt to stop Wilson, in the clear, tackled him from an offside position. The penalty was called and the Springboks decided upon the penalty kick where Wilson caught the ball -5 yards from the sideline and about 3 to 5 yards outside the home team’s 25- instead of a scrum at the place where Laidlaw kicked it.

What followed was one of the most dramatic events in Springbok rugby history. A moment which, above everything else, defined Tiny Naude for the rest of his life. This is how Terry McLean describes the unfolding of this incredible moment:

Final Score: South Africa 19 / New Zealand 16

18 Sept 65 – Fourth Test; Eden Park, Auckland

In view of the scoring sprees on which the Springboks had embarked over the previous two weeks –after the win in the third test- a number of critics thought they were certain to tie the series, especially as the last test looked likely to be played in conditions that would favor the Springboks.

 

The feeling was shared by the Springboks who approached the game with a great deal of confidence.

Terry McLean writes this about the test: “A legend was shattered at Eden Park today – a legend of invincibility. Farewell the tranquil mind, South Africa, farewell content. The pride the pomp and circumstance of glorious war belong to New Zealand. The circus of Kobus Louw is in disarray, its poles shattered, the canvas torn and stretched.

The All Blacks have won the final test, 20 points to 3, five tries to none, 17 points in the second half, 12 points scored within the space of 11 minutes. It is a beating, a defeat, beyond the experience of any South African team in history. It is subjection. Worse, it is a disgrace.”

If one watched the highlights of this game the you will get the feeling that McLean is way out of line with the above statement. The difference between the two teams was not that large at all. In fact New Zealand scored almost all their tries capitalizing on mistakes made by South Africa trying to run with the ball.

The Springbok game plan was to run at the All Blacks; to spread them wide; to use the dangerous South African backs; to exploit the dubious defense in the backline as they did in the third test.

The Springboks did all the play; running the ball from every possible position on the field while New Zealand showed very little creativity at all. When there was 29 minutes left of play on the clock the score was still 3-3 but some risky play and consequently handling mistakes as well as poor defense cost South Africa the match.

The main perpetrator for South Africa on the day was Barnard. Three Barnard mistakes resulting in three tries; nine points against the Springboks within nine minutes and that was the end of it for South Africa and for Barnard in terms of his international career.

Final Score: New Zealand 20; South Africa 3

 

1965 South Africa tour in Australasia
Type P W D L
Total: 31 23 0 8
Test match: 6 1 0 5
Opp. P W D L
 Australia 2 0 0 2
 New Zealand 4 1 0 3

The 1970 Tour of the All Blacks to South Africa

On their way to South Africa the AB’s played two matches (apparently directly after each other, on the same day) in Perth against a President XV and a team from Western Australia. Western Australia struggled to find enough players for two teams due to a lack of quality players -the WARFU apologised afterward to the AB manager for the quality of the teams.

A record number of spectators (for Western Australia) namely 7000 watched the AB’s won both games (52-3 and 50-3) with ease. Lochore got injured in one match which prevented him from playing for the first three weeks in South Africa.

On Monday, June 15, 1970, the AB’s arrived at Jan Smuts and the team was welcomed by a crowd of 4000 people

First Test, July 25, 1970 Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

The Springbok team had quite a few new faces in comparison with the players / teams that played as recently as 7 months ago in the test matches on the end year tour to the UK. Ian McCallum played in his first test at No 15 in place of HO de Villiers who recently retired; Joggie Jansen was brought on centre above players like JP van der Merwe,

Eben Olivier Tonie Roux who played in test matches during the 69/70 end year tour. Tiny Neethling –not his first test- was selected above the experienced Mof Myburg with AlbieBates at No 8 in place of Tommy Bedford and Johan Spies at lock above Sakkie de Klerk.

Only three minutes had elapsed when the All Blacks won a scrum inside their 25 but, as Laidlaw went back to gather the ball, he was bustled and the ball went loose.

Greyling, coming through quickly got his foot to the ball and kicked it through to the All Black line. In the chase for the ball, de Villiers narrowly beat Wayne Cottrell to the touchdown and scored South Africa’s first points, near the left hand corner.

The tackle on Laidlaw early in the game and his subsequent concussion thereafter, he thought, completely disrupted the All Blacks and was the reason why they couldn’t get into any sort of pattern. The first try by Dawie de Villiers, within 4 minutes after onset, was also a direct result of Laidlaw’s concussion.

 

 

 

One of Jansen’s crash tackles laid Cottrell almost unconscious and the onslaught of the dedicated home side had the All Blacks badly rattled.

Visagie maintained his tactical kicking and in the 8th minute South Africa won a scrum midway between the New Zealand goal line and 25.

De Villiers sent a long pass to Visagie who propped beautifully and sent a magnificent 30-yard left-footed drop kick between the posts.

A concerned Joggie Jansen trying to help a gutted Wayne Cottrell just after Jansen flattened him with a crash tackle.

Terry McLean, in his book “Battling the boks” writes:

The South African forwards were balls of fire. De Villiers was galvanized, scarcely able to stand still for a moment. The team was wound up to a state of total dedication. In the early movements, the players took off like projectiles. 

For New Zealand troubles began in the lineout, where Hopkinson and Smith at the short end were beaten by Neethling and Spies, and Strahan in the main catching position at 5 were beaten by Du Preez. The trouble continued in the open, where Bates, Greyling and Ellis, but especially Bates, were first to the ball, first to the man, first in most things. The poor quality of the All Black forward play was shattering. 

One saluted the Springboks, especially Bates, who was truly magnificent; du Preez made fine catches; Neethling, who was a considerable nuisance at the front of the line; de Villiers, whose leadership was electrifying; Visagie who kicked with terrifying exactitude; Jansen, who tackled in the manner of such defensive giants as Jackie Matthews and Rijk van Schoor; and McCallum who fielded expertly, kicked accurately, ran smartly and more than salvaged a reputation which might have been lost by the uncertainty of his defence as Williams ran at him.”

Final Score: South Africa 17, New Zealand 6.

These two photograps shows Syd Nomis scoring the intercept try that sealed the match for South Africa.

Second test – Newlands – August 8, 1970

Subtle, yet intense the pressure mounted in the All Black camp. Winston McCarthy – a former New Zealand rugby commentator- responsible for the mounting pressure in the AB camp with his weekly newspaper report, published in New Zealand; his information was that there were dissatisfaction in the AB camp with coach Ivan Vodanovich. The players “Were getting on top of their coach” he wrote in classical New-Zealand cut-down-the-tall-poppy style.

Brain Lochore strongly denied these allegations indicating that the players -as on any other stage on tour- were willing to die for the coach. “There is no truth whatsoever in the allegations that we are getting on top Ivan”, said Lochore. Ron Burk – AB-team manager- saw it for what it was and noted that the article isn’t worth replying to.

Kiwi supporters were everywhere to be seen in Cape Town and there were reports of incidents where some were attacked and robbed, and word was out that tourists should move around in groups.

The mental games was in full swing; the Springboks again had their training sessions within a high security area, namely the Pollsmoor prison. There were rumours that Lofty Nel was brought in to replace Piet Greyling. NZ issued confusing media statements regarding when and where the All Black team is going to prepare for the test.

The Springbok team for the second test was unchanged while NZ made five changes, namely Sutherland (No. 5), Wylie (No. 4) and Thimbleby (No. 1), Kirton (10 to replace Cottrell) and Davis at centre in place Thorne which were moved to the wing in place of Malcolm Dick. There were concerns over the fitness of Thimbleby, Sutherland and Wylie and Muller; all struggling with soft tissue injuries (muscle injuries). Thimbleby were not able to recover in time and did not play.

South African sport journalists generally predicted a win for the Springboks if they were able to repeat their performance of the first test.

The second Test at Newlands will be remembered for the raw, uncompromising rugby and the ruggedness of the match; no doubt emanating from the critical importance of the test, for both teams.

NZ had to win at all costs in order to stay in with a change to win the series and the Springboks wanted to eliminate any risk of losing the series.

The forwards, fought like devils among themselves and some of the rucks were so furious that it left the spectators in the pavilion upset. Piston van Wyk was led off the field after one such ruck -were players were cleared out with the rugby boots- with blood streaming down his face.

Sid Nomis was knocked unconscious by Fergie McCormick and there were times during the match when the players openly laid into each other with the knuckels, knees, elbows and boots.

Several former Springboks, SA rugby board members as well as the majority of the many rugby journalists voiced their dissatisfaction in no uncertain terms with the manner in which this test was played.

Laidlaw and Kirkpatrick scored for NZ and McCormick was successful with a penalty. Jansen scored for South Africa and McCallum succeeded with the conversion and one penalty.

Final Score: New Zealand 9 / South Africa 8

29 Aug 1970 – Critical third test Boet Erasmus, Port Elizabeth

The tension was unbearable, and both teams surprised with unexpected and daring team selections in an attempt to achieve some sort of strategic advantage.

Colin Meads requested that should not be considered for the third test because he felt he was not 100% ready for the intensity of test rugby. The New Zeeland selectors decided however to include him in the AB team for the third test.

This decision and the positional shift of Bryan Williams to centre were according to Gabriel David’s errors that contributed to NZ’s poor performance in the 3rd test.

Mof Myburg and Loft Nel were selected for the Springbok team under great criticism (of the South Afrikaans media) for the third test. Lofty Nel who made his debut against the 1960 All Blacks was at thirty-six the oldest man to have represented South Africa.

The fascinating fact about Mof Myburg is that he played in 18 tests for South Africa and was only twice on the losing side. He was also involved in four tests that ended in a draw, the rest the Springboks have all won; maybe an indication of the importance of weight up front.

Mof was often critized for being too heavy and not mobile enough and was left out a few times for exactly that reason.

Mof Myburg and Frik du Preez, who were great buddies and a proven combination in the lineout

The confidence in the All Blacks’ ability to win the test was great in run-up, the disappointment and disillusionment about their inability to “make a dent in the Springboks armour” even greater, after the game.

A high ranking NZRFU official exclaimed: “It’s the worst display I’ve ever seen by a New Zealand rugby side.” He wouldn’t be quoted but I can tell you that he’s seen more rugby than most people.

This afternoon on the Boet Erasmus ground before 55,000 people, New Zealand rugby came down to earth with a shattering thud. Not since 1964 on Athletic Park against Australia has New Zealand taken such a beating in a test match. It was comprehensive and it was staggering. 

The simple prosaic truth is that the All Blacks played shocking rugby. There was nothing about their game with which to associate their triumphant march through the provinces. It was patternless, formless rugby by New Zealand. 

There was no positive approach by either the forwards or the backs and the defence was almost non-existent. They made South Africa look a lot beter than they actually played, but at least the Springboks brought a little creative design into the game and bold attacks produced rich rewards.”

Chris Greyvenstein in his book Springbok Saga has the following on the third test:

The Springboks had their easiest victory of the series in the third test at Port Elizabeth where the highlights were the two tries by the Stellenbosch wing Gert Muller and, again, the wonderful kicking of McCallum. 

Mullers first try came after the Springboks have trapped Fergi McCormick, whose blood they were after from the start, with the ball. From the ruck Dawie de Villiers slipped away on a devastating break to send Muller over for his first test try.” 

Greyvenstein describe the try slightly different than David in particular the fact that Dawie de Villiers broke away from the ruck before he passed to Muller is different from David version. Greyvenstein go ahead and write the following about the Springboks:

“…the match was also unforgettable for the deadly tackle with which Piet Greyling slammed McCormick into the ground with less than a minute gone.

Final Score: New Zealand 3 / South Africa 14

11 Sept 1970 – Fourth Test Ellis Park, Johannesburg

From a New Zealand perspective, the fourth test of the 1970 tour will be remembered for an incident that occurred a week before the test in Potchefstroom.

Two Canterbury players Alex Wylie and Alister Hopkinson pulled a mischievous trick on coach Ivan Vodanovich in Potchefstroom a week before the game; a prank that determined to a large extend the outcome of the fourth test.

The story goes that the two Canterbury players Wylie and Hopkinson were standing at the bottom of the hotel steps, having a chat, when the coach came down the stairs in a hurry.

Wylie put his foot out and tripped a hasty Ivan who plunged through the swivel doors and landed face down in the hotel foyer. “Right, no Canterbury players in the test team” was the coaches’ words as he picked himself up from the ground.

New Zealand was the better team today in this crucial international that meant so much in terms of rugby prestige and tour evaluation, but deserved to be beaten because once again there were basic mistakes and a nondescript backline played exactly like a nondescript backline.

Going and Furlong had nightmare matches and was clueless and tentative on 9 and 10; the result was that the AB never really dictated: they lacked direction in the decision making positions with a pack clearly in control for a substantial amount of time. The halfback and first five eight’s inability to stamp their authority and direct play also hampered the playmakers on their outside.

The Springboks played probably the worst match of the series but they deserved to win because they were allowed it. It was a match in which the Windhoek flanker Jan Ellis got away with murder. He was so often off-side he should have been wearing the sliver fern jersey. The referee Mr. Bert Woolley caught up with him at times but it was so infrequent it was shameful.

Chris Greyvenstein is of the opinion that the two players who dominated this test were the place kickers McCallum and Kember; together they scored 28 of the 37 points. McCallum slotted an enormous kick of 65 meters; a kick that he himself said he would not attempt under normal circumstances. Dawie de Villiers, according to McCallum, instructed him to kick for goal so that the forwards could get a breather without any expectation that McCallum will be successful. Write Chris Greyvenstein:

McCallum’s place kicking in the series was so good that the All Black’s coach Ivan Vodanovich praised him later as the kicker with the best  technique he had ever seen, a view I share even now that we are in the era of round-the-corner kickers.

For the Springbok side, it was the end of the road for Lofty Nel (1960-1970 – 11 tests) Mof Myburg (1962-1970 – 18 tests) Johan Spies (Only four tests) and Mannetjies Roux (1960-1970 – 27 tests). Dawie de Villiers announced his retirement after 22 tests as Springbok captain. It was De Villiers’s second series as captain against the All Blacks; he was also captain of the 1965 Springbok team touring to New Zealand.

Final Score: South Africa 20 / New Zealand 17

1970 New Zealand tour in South Africa and Rhodesia
Type P W D L
Total: 24 21 0 3
Test match: 4 1 0 3
Opp. P W D L
 South Africa 4 1 0 3

 

ESPN has done a documentary a few years back on “Greatest Rugby Rivalry“….

 

Sources: The McLook rugby collection

 

 

 

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