The McLook rugby collection

A personal collection that tells the story of Springbok rugby

Arrival in South Africa

On their way to South Africa the AB's played two matches (apparently directly after each other, on the same day) in Perth against a President XV and a team from Western Australia. Western Australia struggled to find enough players for two teams due to a lack of quality players -the WARFU apologised afterward to the AB manager for the quality of the teams.

 

A record number of spectators (for Western Australia) namely 7000 watched the AB's won both games (52-3 and 50-3) with ease. Lochore got injured in one match which prevented him from playing for the first three weeks in South Africa.

 

On Monday, June 15, 1970, the AB's arrived at Jan Smuts and the team was welcomed by a crowd of 4000 people. David described the arrival as follows:

The crowd roared and Dr. Danie Craven unashamedly let a tear slip from his eye and Kobus Louw gave one of those beaming smiles that would match the width and breath of the Indian ocean. The All Blacks were moved too. 

Bruce McLeod gave a gasp and muttered: "Hell, let's get down to training, we're in rugby country!" Now, it would be untrue to label the All Black coach, Ivan Vodanovich, as anything but serious about rugby. 

Yet, this extremely dedicated rugby man was so moved by the fantastic Johannesburg welcome to the All Blacks that he allowed himself the luxury of a whimsical comment. Fixing his dark, brooding eyes on me he quipped: "Fancy being dead, and missing all this!" 

 

Painting of Dr. Danie Craven 

 

Dr. Craven in an interview with New Zealand rugby scribe Alex Veysey said: Over the past few weeks there has been great doubt among most South Africans whether the tour will take place. Your tour will be an immense stimulus to our rugby at a time when we badly need it. We expect from this All Black team an exciting sort of rugby that is going to do our rugby a lot of good; a sort of rugby from which we have departed. We expect from you hard forward play with the second phase developing into attacking play from the backs. This is what our rugby badly needs and is what you will give us.

 

Atypically, after the first tour match in East London Craven revealed that he didn't thought the Springboks could beat the All Blacks. His reasons were:

 

1. South Africa did not have the tight forward resources to contain the All Blacks;

 

2. The South African players were not sufficiently motivated by the will to win; something which is so imperative to All Blacks rugby;

 

Elaborating he said very few new young players have come to the fore mostly due to the national selector’s tendency to stick with the old guard especially in the tight forwards. Based on the tight forwards performance during the disastrous 69/70 Springbok EOYT Craven was convinced that the old guard South African tight forwards just did not had what it took to beat the All Blacks.

 

The South African wings he believed where good enough; the halfbacks efficient enough but the tight forwards not staunch enough to allow the loose forwards Greyling, Ellis and Bedford to impact enough.

Leaving Johannesburg the AB's travelled to East London where they had three days before their first match against Border. One of the primary things that David refers too was the team’s observations during these three days regarding the white and black apartheid situation. He wrote about an incident on the first day in East London:

Some of the players had their first brush with apartheid last night. Young Bantu beggars are badgering the players and, normally, they are ignored. However, Chris Laidlaw conversed with one of them outside the hotel door and was immediately abused by a white who had reeled from the bar.

"What the hell are you doing man?" Said, the drunk. "I thought you were one of us?" Laidlaw mildly requested a more general description of "one of us" and quite an ugly situation was brewing when another white, a sober one, intervened and dragged the drunk away. Laidlaw was a little shocked.

 

The type of remarks and incidents was probably to be expected given the vastly different cultural and developmental histories of South Africa and NZ and the fact that the apartheid issue received so much limelight before the tour. Reading between the lines one get the distinct impression that the Kiwi’s had a "chip” on the shoulder superiority attitude, especially, at the beginning of the tour. An attitude of we are the better educated, more sophisticated, intelligent and clear-headed group with a more ethically correct or moral society.

 

On the third day in East London, Brain Lochore and Chris Laidlaw went on a Helicopter day trip into the Transkei. Laidlaw obviously had his doubts about apartheid and wanted to see more of the black man in his natural environment; most likely to convince himself of the correctness of his theoretical and moral stance on the issue. David writes as follows about Laidlaw’s trip to the Transkei:  

Laidlaw was motivated by a strong desire to study the environment and the problems of the South African natives.

This deep-thinking Rhodes Scholar who is an introspective, even brooding young man makes no secret of his suspicions of apartheid.

I had the feeling, however, that he was a little shaken by his experience today and could appreciate, to a greater degree than before at least, that the merging of the Bantu and white societies is perhaps an impossible ideal. 

These pictures shows the All Blacks on arrival at Jan Smuts airport on Monday 15 June 1970. A crwod of 3 000 welcomed them enthusiastically both gald and relieved to see them in the country after all the fears that the tour will not eventuate.  

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