The McLook rugby collection

A personal collection that tells the story of Springbok rugby

3 July 1965 - Wellington

Wellington 23 / South Africa 6

The next game was against Wellington (Hurricanes in S14/15 terms) and upon arrival at the airport and the hotel, there were more Cops than spectators not to mention demonstrators. Students from Victoria University in Wellington were openly against the tour, but nothing came from the expected march -by students- against the tour. 

 

 

Springboks arriving in Wellington. Top picture shows Andrew Janson and Lofty Nel getting off the bus. Bottom picture shows Kerneels Cronje, Harry Parker and Andrew Janson signing in at the hotel.

 

It was bitterly cold, wet, with a biting Southwester the day after arrival during the Springboks first practice run and the players were shaking like aspen leaves. 

Besides Dawie de Villiers, Lionel Wilson and Piet Botha who were injured, the Springboks fielded a team very similar to the side that played in the tests against Australia. Mans was selected at centre in place of Mannetjies Roux while Frik du Preez were moved to the lock position in place of injured Piet Botha opening the flank position for Jan Ellis. 

 

Teams

 

South Africa

 

Wellington

Boet Mulder

15

MW Williment

Trix Truter

14

RW Caulton

Waynand Mans

13

IN Uttley

John Gainsford

12

AJ Osborne

Jannie Engelbrecht

11

GN Bowerman

Keith Oxlee

10

BT Frederikson

Nelie Smit (Capt)

9

BA Coulter

Tommy Bedford

8

GI Hermansson

Lofty Nel

7

GC Williams

Jan Ellis

6

TN Lister

Piet Goosen

5

IN MacEwan

Frik du Preez

4

P Delaney

Andy Macdonald

3

JM Finn

Abe Malan

2

KN Grant

Sakkie van Zyl

1

KF Gray (Capt)

 

Five players in the Wellington team, Ken Gray, Nev MacEwan, Ralph Caulton, Ian Uttley and Mick Williment were All Blacks, while another two, Graham Williams and Tom Lister would later earn their All Black caps. Eleven players in the Wellington team were invited to the All Black trials. 

 

 

 

Nev MacEwan played in 1956 for Wellington against the Springboks; he was also selected to play out of position (at No8) in the second test of that 1956 series.  He and Ralph Caulton also toured to South Africa in 1960 during which he played in all four test matches and Caulton in two of the test matches.  Tom Lister was due to tour to South Africa in 1970 and to play in two of the four test matches.

 

This picture shows Nev MacEwan competing for the ball against Piet Goosen (with the head gear). The other Springboks in the line-out from front to back are Andy MacDonald (No3), Abe Malan (No6), Sakkie van Zyl (behind the Wellington player on the Springbok side of the line-out), Frik du Preez, Jan Ellis, Lofty Nel and Tommy Bedford. Nelie Smit is the scrumhalf.

 

A crowd of about 38 000 attended the match played in good weather with a light Southwester blowing. 

Nelie Smit and Ken Gray leading their teams onto the field.

 

About this match McLean writes: 

 

...the Wellington team bashed the Springboks with power in the forwards and precision in the team play. By half-time, the score was 17-3. 

 

The New Zealand captain of 1953-54, R.C. Stuart, one of the profoundest of rugby students, remarked in die Sports Post: “The 1956 Springbok team were technically perfect but tactically indifferent. This 1965 team are babes-in-arm tactically. Their tactical blunders today would not be tolerated by any self-respecting club side in New Zealand.” 

 

Fair comment. Very fair comment. But it should still be noted that out of all the comings and goings, each team scored only one try. 

 

McLean also writes that Wellington was by far the better team on the day but that the speed of the Springbok backline allowed them to scramble well enough on the defence with the result that the Wellington team won the match primarily with penalties. 

 

A collage of pictures from the Wellington match

 

The game had been in progress for 10 minutes when Williment opened the scoring with a 40 meter left foot drop goal. Five minutes later he was successful with a penalty when Bedford was caught offside in a lineout. There was another successful penalty by Williment before Mans opened the scoreboard for South Africa with a 52 meter penalty. Seven minutes before halftime Bedford was again caught offside and Williment was successful with yet another penalty. Two minutes later Wellington send the ball down the backline from a scrum; Williment, the fullback, jumped into the line passed to Bowerman who send Uttley, the centre, over for Wellington's only try for the day. Williment converted; the halftime score 17-3. 

 

 

Ian Uttley scoring Wellington’s only try with Jannie Engelbrecht around his hips.

 

Ten minutes after halftime Lofty Nel forced himself over the line for an unconverted try from a ruck close to the opponents' goal line. There were two further penalties for the New Zealand team late in the second half for a final score of 23-6. 

 

 

Mick Williment kicking the final points of the match with the referee Mr CM Robson keeping a close eye on the ball. The player on Williment’s outside is K Grant the Wellington No2.

 

The Springboks forwards were good in the loose with Bedford -who got injured late in the second half and who did not play again on tour- outstanding. Malan and MacDonald also performed well and Mulder was steady on fullback. Smith's slow service behind the scrum made things difficult for Oxlee.

 

Wellington was not one of the stronger provincial teams in New Zealand in 1965 and there was a reasonable degree of disappointment among the Kiwi's –not wanting a one sided affair in the test matches- with the Springboks performance in this match.

 

McLean writes:

 

Poor ‘Boks. Two matches played and the head already lost. Sign of omission and commission contributed largely to the defeat. Backs like Oxlee failed to find touch and like Gainsford dropped the ball. Forwards leaned on the rucks, if they got to them before they had been won by Wellington, and with pretty childlike faith, used their hands in the rucks to scoop the ball back. 

As in Australia, the moments of crises were faced with excitement rather than coolness and a calculated plan. The backrow plan couldn’t compare with Wellington’s, partly because Bedford was wrongly placed on No 8 instead of on the flank and partly, too, because Ellis either didn’t know what he ought to do or hadn’t been told it. 

Strange it was, too, to see Gainsford’s superb trust in the very first minute not turned into a try because Truter couldn’t run fast enough.

 

The best came last, too, when Ken Gray in his thank-you speech for the Springbok head, said that the Springboks were the most sporting team he had ever played against. 

 

Pictures show Ken Gray the Wellington captain with the Springbok head (given to the first provincial team that beat the Springboks on tour) and the Wellington team in high spirits after the victory.

 

Best synonym for "Sporting" is surely "Gutless" but that was within the context of the formal post-game speech conditions probably not ‘politically correct’ terminology.

 

 

Jan Ellis

 

This picture shows a young and very inexperienced Jan Ellis who in 1965 first became a Springbok.

Terry McLean writes:: Jan Hendrik Ellis rugby-wise came from “about as fur as you can go”. He was brought up in South-West Africa some 300 miles from Windhoek and his nearest rugby club was at least 60 miles from the farm. Jan never had occasion to think of rugby as a sport until round about the time of the visit of the All Blacks of 1960 to Windhoek. 

By the time of the 1965 Springbok trials Ellis had had only about five years of rugby and it took discernment on the part of the selectors to judge that he had the talent to be a Springbok. In the early days of the tour Jan had speed but was a bit of a joke to his team mates but while he may have lacked experience he had the physique, drive and aggression for a top class international loose forward. By the end of the tour it wouldn’t be fair to assert that he was on his way to greatness but it would be right to say that he was beginning to get the hang of tactical play. With that speed and that physique, Jan Ellis promised to become the greatest player in the history of South-west Africa. 

 

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