The McLook rugby collection

A personal collection that tells the story of Springbok rugby

4 Aug 1976 - SA Universities 9 / All Blacks 21

Terry McLean in his book “goodbye to glory” starts his piece on this match with the following paragraph: 

June 25. Jan Smuts Airport. All Blacks arrive. Big crowd. Much cheering (but crowd neither as big nor cheering as loud as it used to be). Danie Craven. Jannie le Roux. Handshaking. “Welcome. Glad you could make it boys. Season wouldn’t have been the same without you.” Craven again. “South African Rugby is much better than it was when the Lions were here two years ago. You will see. Much, much better. The new Currie Cup competition has stirred everything up. You will see. We will be waiting for you. And don’t forget – there are five tests. Ja, man, five. South African Universities. A great team. You will find them very hard.” 

It was indeed almost a complete Springbok team with some incumbents like Dawie Snyman, Edrich Krantz, Peter Whipp, Gerrie Germishuys, Boland Coetzee, and John Williams, some oldies like Joggie Jansen and some future Springboks like De Wet Ras, Barry Wolmerans, Wynand Claassen, Eben Jansen, Louis Moolman and Daan du Plessis. In the entire team only Wouter Hugo the OVS Captain (a team who would win the Currie Cup in 1976) and Doug Mather would never play for the Springboks. 

Wouter Hugo in his OVS university blazer. He was one of only two players (the other being Doug Mather) in the Varsity team who never played for South Africa. 

 

De Wet Ras in his Shimlas rugby jersey. He launched, yet again, almost every ball he received into deep cosmos space. 

Unfortunately they -the Varsity team- didn’t show up on the day. Fact is, as I’ll explain a little further down the line, the students were outwitted and outplayed. 

It was altogether a disappointing day for the 60 000 odd spectators including Prime Minister John Vorster who showed up to see how the All Blacks were going to get beaten in the fifth test. Mclean writes: 

Ja, man, the fifth test. A great team? Pshaw. John Williams was a great lineout forward. The greatest. No gazelle ever leapt so high. Count the possession score -23 to 12 to Varsities. All Blacks damned lucky to get 12.  

Gerrie Germishuys some player, too. He couldn’t help it but be. Class, just class. Mind you Kit Fawcett did bring him down like a ton of bricks. Gave you the heart to go on. Made you think, well, Kit could be the kid for the Test. Dan du Plessis mighty useful at tighthead. Hard player, medical man. Conscientious cove, dead ringer for Lawrie Knight.  

No flies on Boland Coetzee, either. Good lively forward, nicest man in the Springbok team. 

As to the rest, pack ‘em up and put ‘em away. 

Mustn’t exaggerate. The boys did take time to get weaving. After 12 minutes: S.A. Universities 6, All Blacks 0. Ras penalties, 29 m and 40 m. “Sully” was sore about the second award. Whaffor, Ref?” Not much joy, either, in seeing Joe Morgan, first time with the ball, 17 minutes gone, trying to dropkick. Shocker. Ball never rose above its own height. Shocker penalty by Sutherland, too, from 47 m. Duck with both wings shot off would fly higher, straighter. 

And then, tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys were marching. Going slotted one in from 41 m. Morgan capped with a try, a brilliant move infield by Mitchell involving Bruce Robertson and Sutherland. Sid Again. Half-time 9-6. The rest, men against boys. Great try by Jognstone. Pick-up of kick-ahead by Mitchell and a plunging run for 20 m. Smart try by Seear, too. Straight though a hole in the lineout wall. 

 

“Class, just class”, writes Terry McLean of Gerrie Germishuys (with the ball in the picture above). Louis Moolman, on the other hand, (in the background) didn’t impress McLean at all and he writes: “Louis Moolman not the cove he was for the South African XV. Beard longer maybe longer, but possession skills streakier. Only three out of 10 – OK, make it four”  

It was the “new” scrummaging strategy the All Blacks (reminded of -because it wasn't really new in the sense of it being a new invention-  during the WTVL game, I believe, and refined during the TVL game) some scribes opinionate which made all the difference in this game. 

The students’ vaunted front row was having problems with Bush and Johnstone and the inability of Doug Mather to hold rampant Bush put a strain on the rest of the pack. New Zealand first got the Universities knotted up in the scrum with a series of perfectly executed “wheels” whenever Barry Wolmarans put in. 

The effect rippled through the ranks and long before the end, the Varsities looked a beaten, dispirited, leaderless bunch. Wolmerans had to scramble for every ball as the scrum screwed away from him. As a consequence his service suffered and the whole Universities game began to deteriorate. "Kanonpoot" De Wet Ras was, as usual, in howitzer mode and the few balls the Varsities got was launced like howitzer mortars downfield all because someone long time ago made the mistake of telling De Wet that he can kick a ball a mile. 

Somehow the old truism “he that’s good with a hammer believes everything is a nail” applies to most South African flyhalves –in particular to De Wet Ras and Gerald Bosch- of the mid 1970’s. 

The match labeled as the fifth Test became something of a sick joke as a contest. Not to distract from the All Blacks’ victory, but it was a palpably poor collective effort by the students; totally lacking leadership and commitment to physical confrontation. John Williams chances to become a Springbok or provincial captain for that matter took a serious nosedive along with the reputations of several other front runners, including new cap right wing Edrich Krantz. 

Batty –playing with an orthopedic brace- gave Krantz such a runaround at Loftus that one shudders to think what damage he could have caused if he had been fully mobile. Krantz’s aspirations to play in the second test in front of his home crowd in Bloemfontein were buried at Loftus in funereal silence. 

 

Edrich Krantz here with the ball playing for the SA University team against the All Blacks of 1976. Krantz was exposed on defense by that explosive bundle of tricks Grant Batty to such an extent that he lost his place in the test side.  

The South African crowd was stunned into disbelief at the ease with which the All Blacks second stringers toyed with the cream of South African University rugby strength. The kiwi pack that comprehensively outplayed the “Springbok” students contained only two men –props Brad Johnstone and Billy Bush – who were to play in the second test 10 days later. 

This match brought Joe Morgan out of the shadows into the test spotlight and confirmed Kit Fawcett’s exciting potential. Apart from the Terry Mitchell, in the place of Bryan Williams, the backline that played against the students was the second test backline. Going and Doug Bruce strike-up a happy partnership as halfbacks and the backline ran with pace and purpose against the students. 

 

Doug Bruce who combined well with Going against the students which convinced the kiwi selectors to maintain him in the No10 spot for the second test.  

Gary Seear scoring for the All Blacks after busting through a hole in the lineout. 

New Zealand controlled the game from about the 20th minute and apart from a Wolmerans intercept (see picture) which didn't lead to anything apart from given the Univesities a odd moment to run a few yards, the Universities were totally outclassed. 

Grant Batty and Boland Coetzee strike up an acquaintance. The crowd loved it.  

Grant Batty –knee brace and ball tucked in wrong arm despite- slipped past (in the picture above) past Joggie Jansen who was way past his best.  

Peter Whipp gave the crowd a rare moment of excitement with an attempt to break while well covered. Whipp was another incumbent who lost his place for the second test. No13 in the picture is Bruce Robertson and the Varisty player on the left running up in support is Wynand Claassen.  

Brad Johnstone scoring his try in the 54th minute. No 15 is Dawie Snyamn with Joggie Jansen on his knees. The player in front of Jansen look like Barry Wolmerans.

Teams 

  

 SA Universities

 

All Blacks

 

15

Dawie Snyman

 

Kit Fawcett

 

14

13

12

11

Edrich Krantz

Peter Whipp

Joggie Jansen

Gerrie Germishuys

 

Terry Mitchell

Bruce Robertson

Joe Morgan

Grant Batty

 

 

1 try

10

9

De Wet Ras

Barry Wolmerans

3 pen

Doug Bruce

Sid Going

 

3 Con, 1 pen

8

7

6

Wynand Claassen

Eben Jansen

Boland Coetzee

 

 

Alan Suterland (Capt)

Lawrie Knight

Ken Stewart

 

 

5

4

Louis Moolman

John Williams (Capt)

 

Frank Oliver

Gary Seear

 

1 try

3

2

1

Daan du Plessis

Wouter Hugo

Doug Mather

 

Brad Johnstone

Graeme Grossman

Billy Bush

1 try

Lineouts

Rucks

Tightheads

Penalties

17

5

0

13

14

8

1

9

The match official was Dr Johan Gouws from Eastern Transvaal; match attendance was 55 000 to 60 000. 

Run of play 

Time

Event

Score

1st minute

Ras penalty, 29 m.

3-0

12th minute

Ras penalty, 41 m.

6-0

35th minute

Going penalty, 41 m.

6-3

39th minute

Morgan try. Going converts.

6-9

54th minute

Johnstone try, Going convert.

6-15

72nd minute

Seear try. Going convert.

6-21

80th minute

Ras penalty, 21 m.

9-21

Some additional thoughts and post match happenings 

Although taking a sarcastic angle on Danie Craven’s remark that SA rugby has much improved in his narrative about this game Terry McLean does agree on some other places in his book that SA provincial rugby has shown much improvement since 1970. He writes: 

The fact was, as All Blacks as experienced as Alan Sutherland, Ian Kirkpatrick, Sid Going and Bryan Williams could testify, that South African Rigby at provincial level which the 1976 All Blacks encountered was immeasurably stronger than that which the team of 1970 had so often so effortlessly overcome.  

To put the matter in perspective, and bluntly, the Big Four of South African provinces – Western Province, Orange Free State, Transvaal and Northern Transvaal- would on their form against the ’76 All Blacks beat any province in New Zealand, decisively. 

Transvaal would simply crush any New Zealand provincial pack.  

Six players walked out of their Burgerspark Hotel dining room the first night after waiting 30 minutes for service. Choet Visser –the liaison officer- took them to a nearby restaurant. The following day Visser and hotel management had some hard words but reached a satisfactory arrangement. 

Kerry Tanner collapsed in his room with acute influenza and was rushed to hospital. 

Ian Kirkpatrick, Bill Osborne and Hamish Macdonald were taken aloft by the South African Air Force. They hit speeds of almost 1000mph in Mirage Jets, an experience described as both “fantastic and frightening” by the players. 

Andy Leslie and Tane Norton visited 1 military hospital to offer comfort and talk rugby to some of the unfortunate troops who had been injured on border duty. A free-lance photographer John Rugbython accompanied Leslie and Norton. His pictures were cabled to New Zealand and published. Permission was refused for publication in South Africa. Bring back memories of the police state we lived in during those years, doesn’t it. 

The first 50 of a group of 1000 New Zealand supporters arrived in Johannesburg to follow the tour. 

The word student was of course used in the most liberal sense as many players with only tenuous links with student rugby were picked for the University team ahead of others who were genuine students pursuing degrees. The row generated such heat that at one stage it looked as if the awarding of colours to the XV would be in jeopardy. The way the “students” performed –it was felt afterwards- perhaps they didn’t deserve the colours.

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