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!
Protests of all kinds against Apartheid on this cheerless day at Eden Park. But the Springboks go home losing to the ABs by 25-22.
After an unauthorised tour to South Africa in 1986 by senior All Blacks (the ‘Cavaliers’), players who toured were banned for two test matches. The New Zealand selectors therefore had to cast further afield for a team to play a test against France in Christchurch and in a following game against Australia at Wellington. They opted in choosing from younger or second-string players who were active around New Zealand.
The relative youth and inexperience of the new team soon earned it the affectionate nickname ‘Baby All Blacks’. The team’s popularity was ensured when it beat France, 18–9 and lost narrowly, 12–13, to Australia.
The Baby Blacks included a number of players who were to become seasoned All Blacks: David Kirk was their captain, while Joe Stanley, Sean Fitzpatrick, John Kirwan, Frano Botica, Terry Wright, Mike Brewer and Andy Earl all represented New Zealand for years.
Who was the player in the All Blacks 1991 World Cup team who played in one test (against Italy) and never played for the All Blacks at any level before or after that game?