The McLook rugby collection

A personal collection that tells the story of Springbok rugby

14 July 1976 - Boland invitation XV 6 / All Blacks 42 

Wellington. Wet, drizzling with the field somewhat sandy but firm underfoot. Crowd 16 000. 

The referee: Justus Moolman (Eastern Province). 

 

Ian Kirkpatrick held by two Boland players  

The Boland team was: 15: Radie Doubell; 14: Deon van Blommenstein; 11: Carel Ferreira; 13: Wessel Koch; 12: Jan Potgieter; 10: Tonie van Zyl; 9: Phillip Taylor; 8: Dawid Smith; 7: Deon du Toit; 6: Kobus Meintjies (Captain); 5: Mac Jordaan; 4: Kassie Karstens; 3: Tank Loubsher; 2: Chris Theron 1: Bees de Jongh. These are the names and numbers provided on the official All Black website (click on link below). In McLean’s book the flankers and props were in different sequence so it is possible that Meintjies was actually number 6 and Du Toit number 7 and the Loubsher was No 1 with de Jongh in 3. Chris Theron was replaced by Charles King in the 42nd minute. 

The All Black team for this match was: 15: Laurie Mains; 14: Neil Purvis; 11: Grant Batty; 13: Bruce Robertson; 12: Lyn Jaffray; 10: Doug Bruce; 9: Lyn Davis; 8: Andy Leslie (Captain); 7: Ken Stewart; 6: Ian Kirkpatrick; 5: Peter Whiting; 4: Frank Oliver; 3: Billy Bush; 2: Graeme Grossman; 1: Kerry Tanner.  

Before the game incidents/issues/stuff 

The main before the match issue was a report in the Transvaler that Lyn Davis would be send home –on his own request- if he didn’t last the match. The actual fact was that the article would have been spot on if published a fortnight ago but Lyn’s new treatment has done the trick. 

The All Blacks were at this stage already struggling with a number of serious injuries. There were flurries in the morning before the match and especially after the match over Peter Whiting’s back. He was beaten more than once in the first 20 minutes for the ball by Mac Jordaan and in the 62nd minute, he was crashed to the ground by a heavy shoulder-charge and lay still with silence settling in the crowd. 

Whiting, who was genuinely hurt, took according to Terry McLean one look at the gathering ghouls of the press photography department, muttered something about the spectral feast and immediately returned to the play. At the very next lineout, with a fine leap, he easily robbed Jordaan of the ball; there were several more before the end of play. 

In one of his other chapters McLean elaborates on the injuries tribulations of the 1976 touring side. These injury problems were twofold namely players who were selected with injuries that came on tour and players that got injured during the tour and who were kept in the squad despite being more of a liability than an asset. 

At least 17 players suffered ills or injuries which either cancelled them from games or affected their form. McLean is of the opinion that this had to do with the All Blacks –because of the warmer climate- not sticking to their normal routine of pre-match stretching. Apparently a physiotherapist by the name of Malcolm Hood introduced a set of pre-match stretches in 1974 into the All Black team that were very effective in preventing injuries. Today static stretches are no longer used as part of pre-match warm-up as it has been proven to impact negatively on power, speed, acceleration and general muscle control. Current practice is to use game specific types of movements which warm the muscle up through a more ballistic stretching process. 

Most of these 17 players were able to overcome their injuries woe’s; Bruce Robertson and Kent Lambert in particular recovered very well from torn hamstring injuries. The injuries to Grant Batty, Peter Whiting, Alan Sutherland and Brad Johnstone and the illness of leading loosehead prop Kerry Tanner had serious impact on the team. 

Bruce Robertson here in picture with the ball with the Boland centre Jan Potgieter charging in for a tackle. Robertson recovered from a hamstring injury to finish his tour as one of the outstanding players in the AB squad. McLean writes of Robertson that in his last five or six games it could fairly be said that he was the finest back in South Africa. Pretty big call considering the likes of Johan Oosthuizen, Peter Whipp and Gerrie Germishuys who were also playing in South Africa in this series.  

Here are some selected paragraphs from McLean’s book regarding the injury woe's of the 1976 All Black squad: 

 

Kerry Tanner: was bundled into hospital in Pretoria early in August suffering from, so was believed influenza. He sweated through one night which he called the longest of his life and within a few days lost about 9kg in weight. He was hospitalized again in Johannesburg a little later, and because he was released therefrom by the South African Rugby Board’s liaison officer Choet Visser, without previous consultation with Noel Stanley, a breach occurred between the two men which was not repaired in the remainder of the tour. By good luck, in Johannesburg, he was at last taken care of by a specialist who suspected that more than old-fashioned ‘flu was the cause of Kerry’s sufferings. 

Using the right medicine, Tanner began to rapidly improve; and, not without cause, he was not a little disenchanted that, ostensibly because of his loss of weight, he was neglected in the second half of the tour and failed to make the team for the fourth test. 

Grant Batty: I would roundly say that Batty should not have been on tour – for medical reasons write McLean. He continues: 

Robbie Snowdowne a specialist in orthopaedics inspected Batty knee after he re-injured it in the first test. He came up with a plastic “gate” which, with secure tieing, would not too greatly impair Batty’s speed and which would give him confidence. Later, a second model was produced. Within limits, Dr. Snowdowne’s inventions were extraordinary helpful. Batty played on throughout the tour, continually exhibiting his extraordinary daring and bravery and showing that, despite the injury, he was still far above the standard of the second-stringers, Terry Mitchell and Neil Purvis.  

 

Batty with the knee brace developed by a South African orthopaedic specialist. This brace allowed Batty to continue playing. Batts had a good game against Boland (playing witout his brace at that stage as he only got it after injuring his knee in the first test).

Brad Johnstone: 

He tore a hamstring muscle while playing for Auckland against Sydney in April before the tour started. He was never free of the problem and played for much of the tour with it. In the test at Bloemfontein, he suffered a rupture of the rib cage. Rather than hearten the Springboks, because Tanner, the other specialist on the loosehead, was considered unfit to play, Johnstone bravely concealed the injury.  

The rupture become troublesome. A medical board was called for. This certified that he should not being to train within 3 weeks, and that it should be six weeks before he plays again. He therefore returned home and, within days, captained the Auckland provincial tea. He played out the season untroubled. 

Alan Sutherland was dreadfully unlucky according to McLean. 

He began his tour as a prospective rebel. He had said severe words to John Stewart (the coach of the 1976 team) when he was omitted from the tour to Australia in 1974 and opinions he had expressed of Leslie as a player and captain had not been complimentary.  

Sutherland was made captain of the team that played Western Transvaal in the fixture which succeeded the defeat in the first test. In terms of overall authority, this was the best display of the All Blacks during the tour. But, during it, Sutherland twisted his knee. A cartilage in his left knee snapped. He could not stand up unaided. Behind the scenes there were moves to have him declared unfit. Once more there was a division among the team’s medical advisors. Sutherland stayed. 

Pugnacious his attitude in every match he played thereafter as he hated defeat and tried to overcome his injury-induced limitations with aggression. 

Alan Sutherland here playing for Rhodesia. After the 1976 tour he stayed behind and played and captained the Rhodesia side during the 1977 Currie Cup series.    

Peter Whiting’s was a heroic expedition. For at least five years before the tour, he had suffered in his Rugby from a malformation of the spine. A leading Irish medical specialist after seeing x-ray plates of Whiting’s back said the man could never play rugby again. “He’s a nut,” said Whiting, pungently. 

His back was playing up badly in the months before the tour. In the first fortnight in South Africa, he was in agony. He could not sleep, he could not jump, his scrummaging was ludicrous. By luck, he was put onto a specialist in Cape Town, Dr. Jan van der Merwe, who was esteemed as one of the outstanding orthopaedic specialists of the country.

An injection precisely into the trouble-spot, aided by various potions, provided extraordinary relief. Whithing kept going but being venerable had to pace himself and only on the really big games did he pour his heart out.  

 

Doug Bruce plying flyhalf for the AB are lined-up by Wessel Kock in this picture. Apart from injuries the 76 also had problems on flyhalf and fullback and consequently also with place kicking which some belief ultimately cost them the series. 

Run of play 

Time

Event

Score

2nd minute

Mains penalty, 39 meters.

0-3

9th minute

Van Blommenstein intercept and scores. Doubell convert

6-3

16th minute

Mains penalty.

6-6

22nd minute

Bush try.

6-10

24th minute

Mains penalty, 36 meters.

6-13

32nd minute

Purvis try, Mains convert.

6-19

48th minute

Jaffray try, Mains convert.

6-25

53rd minute

Jaffray try, Mains convert.

6-31

66th minute

Mains penalty, 21 meters.

6-34

70th minute

Batty try.

6-38

80th minute

Batty try.

6-42

About the match 

In terms of place kicking this match was the All Blacks best performance so far on tour. Laurie Mains missed only three of 10 kicks at goal with on e of the missed kicks –conversion of Bush’s try- hitting the upright. 

A fine mist settled at times during the match over the ground, turning the ball slippery and the footing tricky. In these impossible conditions Bruce Robertson fired an impossible long pass at Mains, who could not reach the ball. Deon van Blommenstein found the ball bouncing directly in his running path and scampered 50 meters over open ground to score under the posts. 

That was however the end of the round for Boland and although Boland never throw in the towel the All Blacks were too accomplished up front and too fast and organized in the back. The Boland halfbacks Phillip Taylor and Tonie van Zyl were dexterous and quite brilliant at breaking from tackles, according to McLean. 

Neil Purvis scoring in the 32nd minute.

Lyn Davis and Phillip Taylor involved in a tussle during the Boland match. Davis was one of the players who almost went home because of a persistent back injury. 

Kobus Meintjies impressed as a fine foraging flanker. Jordaan did well in the lineouts and Charles King –who replaced Deon du Toit as loosehead- commanded some special attention from Tanner. Mclean writes: 

The two (Tanner and King) had some disagreement about the way King bound. Tanner spoke to him in a kindly, even fatherly way. There was no response. Boom! “Tanner was quite right,” said Justus Moolman. “The man was told. He didn’t agree. He got a lesson.” 

McLean has this on individual performances of the All Blacks: 

Jaffray was sharp in seeing the chances, and Leslie played one of his finest games in the Silver Fern, covering like a greyhound and leading all sorts of rushes. He could have had the last try; but it was important to him, one surmised, that “Bats” should be restored to full confidence. So the pass was slipped to him and the crowd, as it did at every sight of the “Ginger Man”, roared yet again. 

After the game reactions/occurrences 

McLean concludes his section on this match with this paragraph: 

Afrikaner writers later accused Moolman of favouring the All Blacks because he penalized them so seldom. “Bless me,” said Justus, “what would be the point? I am not even on the test panel. I have been refereeing for 14 years and keep on because I like to be in the game. Why would I want to favour any team? I will say this – the All Blacks were marvelous to have on the field. Their manners, their approach, were perfect.” 

Well it seems Justus was about the only referee the All Blacks was happy with, wonder why?

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