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 first All Black tour of South Africa is squared.
With South Africa leading the 4-match test series 2-1, NZ had to win this game in Cape Town. They did by 13-5.
One of the more prominent Welsh clubs, Aberavon was founded in 1876 and is centred at Port Talbot, near Swansea. After a particularly bright period of play in the 1920s, the Aberavon team became known as the ‘Wizards’. The name stuck and today a wizard is incorporated in the club’s monogram.
With the tough industrial and employment conditions associated with the coalﬁelds and steelworks of south Wales in recent years, so has Aberavon undergone tough times. These days the club is semi-professional and has had only modest success. In 2001 it did win the National Division One club league for the third time.
The club had four famous three-quarters in the 1920s – John Ring, Alun Edwards, Syd Williams and Arthur Bassett – but all later switched to rugby league. The club’s 1984 top try-scorer, Kevin James, also left the district to play league. In 1985 he played for Hull in rugby league’s top match of the year, the Challenge Cup ﬁnal.
Aberavon’s leading cap-winner for Wales is Allan Martin, who played 34 internationals for his country between 1973 and 1981. The big lock also toured with the British Isles to New Zealand (1977) and to South Africa (1980).
Other prominent Wizards from over the years include John Bevan (Welsh international 1975, British Isles tour to New Zealand 1977 and Welsh national team coach 1982–86); Ned Jenkins (21 internationals for Wales 1927–32); Tony O’Connor (ﬁve internationals for Wales 1960–62, British Isles tour to South Africa 1962); and Clive Williams (Welsh international prop 1977–83 who later played for Swansea and toured New Zealand with the British Isles 1977 and South Africa 1980). Billy James (1983-87) is the only club player to have captained the Welsh national XV.
One family which had a close association with Aberavon is the family of Richard Burton. The famous actor used to recall that his father always used to say,‘when I die, do not bury me on a Saturday. If you do you will miss watching The Wizards play.”
The Aberavon team plays in red and black hooped jerseys,
On the Teen Rugby Show on TV in New Zealand (on 18 July 2006) which All Black used the words; 'bugger, shit, shits and shithouse' in a five minute item.