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.
Western Province and South Africa
33 internationals for Sth Africa 1960–67
One of South Africa’s greatest players, John Gainsford played in what was then a record number of internationals for a centre in the Springbok colours.
A big, strong-running centre with positive instincts for attack, he made his first-class debut as a 19-year-old, before joining the Junior Springboks for their 1959 tour of Argentina. He came into the South African test team in 1960, when he appeared in the only test against the Scotland touring team and in all four games the same season against the All Blacks. Thereafter, until 1967, only injury kept him out of test teams.
In his seven seasons as a Springbok, Gainsford earned world-wide respect. After only five years he became the highest-capped South African player, beating the old mark of 28 tests, held by Johan Claassen, in the third test at Christchurch on the 1965 New Zealand tour. This was a feat which he celebrated by scoring two brilliant tries as the Springboks came back from 5–16 at half-time to score a notable victory.
At the time of his retirement, after the 1967 tour by France, Gainsford was also South Africa’s top test try-scorer, with eight tries. Both his appearances and try tally records were broken in subsequent years, but it took until 2001 before Japie Mulder passed his record for being South Africa’s highest-capped centre.
What was unique about the Hastings brothers, Gavin and Scott, when they made their debuts for Scotland?