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!
Born in Stratford, Taranaki and All Black prop Mark Allen was forever known as 'Bull' (named after an American TV character). He became so popular Rugby Park in Taranaki was re-named the 'Bull Ring' for a time.
GEFFIN, AARON (‘OKEY’)
Transvaal and South Africa
7 internationals for South Africa 1949–51
A prop who made the headlines in 1949 when his prodigious goal-kicking for the Springboks helped them to beat the touring All Blacks 4–0 in the test series.
In the first test New Zealand led South Africa by 11 to 3 at one stage. Goal-kicking duties had been allotted to the Griquas fullback, Jack van der Schyff, for the match, but after he missed two shots Geffin picked up the ball and, uninvited, took the next penalty.
Geffin put over five penalty attempts, virtually beating New Zealand, 15–11, on his own. It was a record number of penalties for any player in a test match up to that time. He did the same in the third test, scoring all of South Africa’s points in its 9–3 win, and in the other two tests he kicked three further goals.
Hailed as a hero that year, Geffin made the Springbok team for the 1951–52 tour of Britain where he also scored impressively with seven conversions –a test record – against Scotland. South Africa won 44–0.
By then Geffin was 31 years old and he eventually lost his place in the Springboks’ scrum. But he will always be remembered as a match-winner by fans of the Springboks – and by disappointed New Zealanders!
His nickname of Okey came from his habit of responding ‘Okay’ when called to take a shot at goal.
How many All Blacks played for New Zealand in 2013?