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!
Epic early words in the game uttered by Springbok captain Phillip Nel to the referee at Eden Park as South Africa win the test series by thrashing NZ by 5 tries to 0 (17-6).
Swansea and Wales
33 internationals for Wales 1890–1901
One of Wales’s first rugby heroes, W.J. (‘Billy’) Bancroft was a brilliant fullback. He was a master at punting and scoring points from place - or drop kicks, and was an elusive runner. He played all his club football for Swansea, where he was idolised as one of its most famous sons.
In a statistical sense he is remembered as the first player to drop kick a penalty goal in an international, v England at Cardiff in 1893, Wales’s first home win over England.
Bancroft played his 33 internationals consecutively – a feat made even more impressive when it is remembered that he did not play against France or teams from New Zealand, Australia or South Africa and had the possibility of only three internationals per year.
Billy Bancroft was small in stature – only 5ft 5in (1.65 m) tall. His brother Jack was also a Welsh international fullback, playing 18 internationals between 1909 and 1914.
Which Irish rugby player of modern vintage has the nickname of '36?'