Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
17 October 2016
In the 1950s and 60s when a South African rugby team left home for a major overseas tour they always carried with them a splendidly mounted Springbok trophy head. The trophy would be presented to the first team that beat the South Africans on any trip.
In 1965 a confident Springbok team arrived in Wellington for just the second tour game, of a 24-match itinerary. Buoyed by a 32-3 win in their first game at Gisborne against Poverty Bay-East Coast they then ran into a powerhouse Wellington team. Though it was only 1-try each the final score favoured the home team by 23-6. So the Springbok head was duly handed over to the Wellington captain Ken Gray.
Such moments are not forgotten, nor are the trophies hidden away to gather dust. In 2016 at the Wellington Rugby Union's 'Old Timer's Day' 51 years after the epic victory, two of the senior players wanted to record their presence with the trophy one more time. Here are Gary Hermansson and Neven MacEwan, the number eight forward and lock forward respectively from the Wellington team
To this writer's eye not one of the three 'people' in this photo have aged a jot!
The local Illawarra team played the All Blacks and a young New Zealander called Colin Meads, aged 20, made his AB debut. 15 seasons later he retired as one of the greats!
Founded in 1884, Abertillery is another of the traditionally strong scrummaging Welsh club teams which always provide rugged opposition. The club has rarely dominated the Welsh scene, but in combination with neighbouring Ebbw Vale has provided many a touring team with strenuous mid-week opposition.
Abertillery has a pretty home ground, The Park, situated at the foot of the mountains and it is there that Haydn Morgan discovered his love of rugby and a talent that was to make him the club’s most celebrated Welsh cap. Morgan, a ﬂanker, played 27 times for his country and toured twice with British Isles touring teams – to New Zealand and Australia in 1959 and to South Africa in 1962.
Other prominent Welsh internationals from Abertillery have been Alun Pask (26 internationals for Wales between 1961–67 and two tours with the British Isles – to South Africa in 1962 and to New Zealand in 1966); John Webb (20 internationals for Wales 1907–12 and with the British Isles in South Africa in 1910); and Allan Lewis (six caps for Wales 1966–67, and a New Zealand tour with the British Isles in 1966).
Abertillery plays in green and white hooped jerseys. It celebrated its centenary in 1984 with a match against a touring Japanese team. After a close encounter, Japan won 17–13.
Why did the Wallaby rugby team only practice in the afternoons at the 1987 Rugby World Cup?