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!
Marty Berry came on v Australia at Eden Park in a losing Bledisloe Cup game for just 18 seconds. But his other midweek games for the ABs spread over 7 seasons.
Racing Club de France, Chalon and France
43 internationals for France 1953–61
A stylish French fullback who became that country’s most-capped last line of defence, Michel Vannier was a gifted runner who was also blessed with a calm assurance. He played in three French teams which won the Five Nations Championship and was a member of the great French team which went to South Africa in 1958 and won the test series.
Vannier first came into the French international side in 1953 against Wales, in Paris. He had an unhappy day but held his place for the internationals of the next season. He steadily built up his tally of caps over the next five seasons. He was an excellent goal-kicker and had a sure touch with a drop-kick. In the end he totaled 175 points in international matches.
Vannier was most unfortunate that a serious knee injury forced him to miss the tests in South Africa in 1958. He missed all of 1959’s international matches but was back in 1960, a comeback that was highly acclaimed and popular with the rugby followers of France.
His last international was in Australia at the end of the French tour there and to New Zealand in 1961. His form on tour had not been as impressive as before, but his total of caps won had reached 43. The mark stood as a French record until the great Serge Blanco passed it in 1987.
Two of Ireland's most famous players were known as Jackie Kyle and Willie-John McBride; what were the two 'proper' Christian names each man had?