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!
NZ had to go to Brisbane for this Sunday game; the ABs scored 8 tries to 1! Winning the first World Cup was now only a week away!
Cardiff, Llanelli and Wales
24 internationals for Wales 1901–08
At the age of 12, in 1893, Rhys Gabe walked from his home near Llanelli to watch Wales play Ireland at Stradey Park, a distance of five miles. He and his friends played with a rugby ball all the way there and back, and the game had a profound influence on young Gabe. Thereafter he only wanted to be a centre and based his play on his hero who had played that day, Sam Lee of Ireland.
Gabe made his debut for Wales in 1901 against Ireland at Swansea in a match that marked the last appearance of the great Billy Bancroft for Wales.
Gabe, as a centre capable of beating his opposites with deception and speed, was a brilliant player in the Welsh teams which won the Triple Crown in 1902, 1905 and 1908, and which enjoyed a period of success called Wales’s first ‘golden era’. He also toured New Zealand with the Great Britain team of 1904.
It was Rhys Gabe who made the run that led to Teddy Morgan’s try which enabled Wales to beat the 1905 All Blacks. He also took part in the famous ‘foggy’ game of 1908 when Wales beat England by 28–18. Gabe scored twice that day – one of the tries was not seen by the England defence because of the murky weather.
There is another story that Gabe was kicked so hard in the backside in the Wales v Scotland game in 1905 that he could not sit down for six months! Being a schoolmaster it meant he had to conduct his lessons standing on his feet. However, the records also actually show that he was fit enough to play in Wales’s next match just three weeks later!
In the Rugby World Cups 1987-2011 which final drew the biggest crowd?