The McLook rugby collection

A personal collection that tells the story of Springbok rugby

Brief history of the Junior Springboks/Gazelle

After the trails for the selection of a Springbok side to tour the United Kingdom in 1931 the general feeling among selectors was that another equally strong Springboks side could easily be selected. That is a second Springbok team of almost equal ability that could potentially challenge if not beat the side that was selected to tour. 

A tour was consequently arranged for these unlucky players to Argentina and the team was officially called the Gazelle. This tour took place in 1932 under the management of Paul Roos and the captaincy of Joe Nykamp. The side consisting of uncapped players wore blue shirts emblazoned with springbok head, red stockings and white shorts. They played eight matches; won all of them and scored 269 points with only 24 points scored against them. The two matches against a representative Argentinian side the Gazelles won 42-0 and 34-3 respectively. Gimnasia y Esgrima, a club coached and captained by B.H Heatlie gave the South African Gazelles stern opposition and lost by only 11-5 in the last game of the tour. Heatlie was the man who captained South Africa in their first ever international against a British touring side. 

Without making any overgenerous assertions about the ability of this first Gazelle side Paul Roos said afterwards that the best fifteen ‘would have given any South African provincial team more than a good run for their money’. 

The team that went on this historic tour were: D Jordaan (OFS); J Vlok (WP); J Cunningham (Rhod); R.S. Elliot (N); Jack.H. Gage (OFS); I Townsend (WP); R Cornell (Bor); K Moodie (WP); P McCarthy (GW, Vice-captain); B Nolte (WP); J Gillett (Bor); A Smit (WP); R.S. Cheshire (Bor); M Rest (OFS); H Wardrop (SWD); J Seymour (N); Lappies Hattingh (OFS); W Wollheim (WP); J Robertson (Bor); Joe Nykamp (T, Captain); A Gerricke (GW); George D’Alton (WP); John Aspey (WP). Manager: Paul Roos. Referee G Finlay (T). 

Two of these players became Springbok test players and three Springbok tourists. 

 

 JackGage GeorgeDAlton
Jack GageGeorge D’Alton

Jack Gage and George D’Alton played for the Springboks in a test against Australia in 1933. J Vlok, J Seymour and J Aspey played in the trails for the team went to New Zealand in 1937 but did not make the team. 

 

JT (John Travers) Apsey (picture above) did howver play in three test matches. His debut was against the touring Australians as eightman in the 4th test at Crusader ground (PE) in 1933. He also played in the following 5th test. He then waited 5 years to play in his third and final test as flank forward against the touring British and Irish Lions of 1938.

After the 1949 trails a Gazelle team was selected for the second time in SA rugby history. The reason was yet again to provide an opportunity for players that missed out on selection for the Springbok side to play for a representative South African side. This side toured to Rhodesia in 1950 and played 5 matches of which they lost one against Mashonalan-Manicaland 14-26. 

The results of that tour can be seen in the table below. 

DateOpponentsPlaceScore
8 July 1950RhodesiaBulawayo12 -11
11 July 1950Matabeleland-midlandsGwelo17-6
15 July 1950RhodesiaSalisbury14-3
19 July 1950Mashonaland-ManicalandUmtali14-26
22 July 1950RhodesiaNkana24-14

The 1950 Gazelle side that toured to Rhodesia were: AC Keevy (ET); JK Osche (WP); R Boyes (WP); O Haarhof (ET); M Gilmour (EP); D Retief (NTVL); D Fry (WP); H Joffe (OFS); G Muller (T); G Woodward (Bor); A du Plooy (EP); HJ Bekker (NTVL); W Louw (EP); S Pienaar (SWD); W Koch (Bol); SP Fry (WP); G Dannhauser (T); E Dinkelmann (NTVL); HN Walker (N); E Norton (EP, Captain); A Hummel (GW); J Morkel (WP). Manager: At Horak (OFS). 

Sixteen of these players became Springboks according to Danie Craven (Rugby in South Africa). I was able to identify 10 (those in bold). Hopefully someone will be able to help identifying the others. W Koch was Willem brother of springbok Chris Koch, both played for Moorreesburg and Boland. Jakkals Keevy, George Dannhauser and Dennis Fry was tourist on the 1951/52 tour to the United Kingdom but never played in any test matches. 

The idea to use the Gazelle team to develop future Springboks came to light in 1955 and the name Junior Springboks came into use. This policy (to select a Junior Springboks side) was direct result of the achievements of the 1932 and 1950 juniors but mostly due to the fact that 5 of the 1932 team and 16 of the 1950 team did eventually became Springboks. The basis for selection set in 1955 was: a player must be a prospective Springbok and must be young. Once a Junior Springbok he should become a Springbok, all things being equal (Craven, D.H. 1964. Rugby in South Africa – 1889 to 1964. Johnston and Neville. p. 216

So in 1955 two Junior Springboks tours were organised through the interior of South Africa. The first tour during July 1955 under Danie Craven as manager and played three matches namely against Natal (9 July 1955 at Kingsmead – score 19-11), Central Universities (11 July 1955 at Maritzburg – score 31-14) and Rhodesia (16 July 1955 at Bulawayo – score 18-9). 

The team that played in these matches were: J du Toit (WP); M Antelme (N); F Roux (T); J Nel (WP); D van der Spuy (Rh); W Rosenberg (T); L Nel (T); C Ulyate (T); T Gentles (WP); W Koch (Bol); J Wessels (OFS); W Wessels (ETVL); M Bekker (NTVL); P Pelser (T – Captain); J Claassen (WTVL); V Wilkins (NTVL); DSP Ackermann (WP); J Bahlman (Bor); D Retief (NTVL). Manager: Dr DH Craven.

J Wessels was Koos Wessels and the brother of Piet and John Wessels who toured with the Springboks in 1951/52 and 1956 repectively. All three played hooker for the Orange Free State; two of them thus become Springbok tourists and one a junior Springbok. 

The second team under management of Basil Kenyon played 5 matches in September 1995 against Western Transvaal, North Eastern Districts, Border, the 1955 British and Irish Lions and Northern Transvaal. Piet Pelser was the Captain of both these sides. The September tour resulted in two matches lost namely against the British and Irish Lions (15-12) and Border (28-22). 

The second or September team was: D Holton (ETVL); (WP); M Antelme (N); F Roux (T); P Williams (T); P Montini (WP); J Nel (WP); J du Preez (WP); L Nel (T); F Gerricke (GW); P du Toit (WP); W Koch (Bol); J Wessels (OFS); M Bekker (NTVL); C de Wilzem (OFS); P Pelser (T – Captain); V Wilkins (NTVL); P van der Merwe (Bol); D van Jaarsveldt (Rh); R Johnstone (EP); GP Lochner (WP). Manager: Basil Kenyon. 

The match against the 1955 British and Irish Lions was played in Bloemfontein on September 14 – midway between the Lions’ third and fourth Tests – and resulted in a narrow 15-12 win for the tourists. 

 

The Junior Springbok team that played against the1955 Lions can be seen in the picture above.

Danie Craven writes in one of his books that the 3rd test had shown that the Springbok team was in need of strengthening in a few positions. The South African selectors were consequently keenly interested in quite a number of ‘juniors’. These include players like lock forwards Piet van der Merwe and Vic Wilkins, loose forwards Chris de Wilzem and Des van Jaarsveldt, scrumhalf Fred Gerricke as well as Jeremy Nel and Pat Montini in the centre. Everyone was expecting a fast open game but the juniors decided to keep it tight –‘soften’ them up in the forwards in the hope that the cracks will appear. Neither in the scrum nor in the line-out were the juniors however able to gain the upper hand. It was in the end a disappointing match with only Gerricke and Des van Jaarsveld impressing the selectors. Francois Roux (not Mannetjies) -who was considered a certainty on wing for the Springboks up to the Transvaal game against the Lions – scored an excellent try in the second half. Roux hoever had no change of making the Springbok team due to being totally outplayed by Tony O’Reilly when playing for Transvaal against the British and Irish Lions. The 19-year old O’Reilly went around Roux on a number of occations and scored two brilliant tries on that day. In his second try O’Reily accelerating like a racehorse went straight for the line from abot 20 meters out dragging three transvaal players including Roux over the line for a brilliant try (see picture below).

OReily 1955723

The Juniors did not get enough ball and the possession they did got was kicked away by flyhalf Lance Nel. Though the scoring margin was 15-12 in the Lions favor suggests a close match it did not accurately reflect the difference between the two sides in all-round forward play and finesse behind the scrum, according to Craven.

Vivian Jenkins, who covered the Lions tour for the London Sunday Times, felt the match was akin to a fifth Test for the tourists and suggested that it should be dropped from future itineraries, arguing: “It is unfair to the visitors to ask them to take on such a stiff fixture on top of their other commitments.” 

The opposite however happened. Due to the match against the 1955 British and Irish Lions it became policy to play the Junior Springboks against touring sides. In this way the Junior Springboks played against the Australians (1963, 1969), British and Irish Lions (1955, 1962, 1980, 1997 and 2009), French (1958), New Zealand (1960, 1970, 1976 and 1992), South American Jaguars (1980) and Ireland (1981) touring sides. 

South Africa lost the rubber to New Zealand in 1956 and also to France in 1958. A Junior Springbok team was consequently dispatched to Argentina in 1959 to build up South African rugby.  Kobus Louw was the manager and the Captain of the side was Peter Allen. The team that went on this 1959 tour was: C Meyer (WTVL); J Engelbrecht (WP); R Twigge (NTVL); Ormond Taylor (N); J Gainsford (WP); N Bridger (T); F Roux (WP); C Holtzhausen (N); D Steward (WP); Giepie Wentzel (EP); F Gerricke (T – Vice Captain); CM (Nelie) Smith (OFS); S Kuhn (T); D Putter (WTVL); D Holton (EP); D Edwards (Bor); J Wessels (T); P Allen (EP-Captain); P van Zyl (T); F de Jager (OFS); D Hopwood (WP); L Nel (T); W van Rensburg (NED); J Bezuidenhout (WTVL); H Meyer (OFS). Manager JF Louw. Assistant Manager: C Ackermann (Bol)

They played 13 matches won all 13 and scored 456 points with only 47 scored against them. The table below provides information about who they played; the venues and the scores. 

 

DateOppositionVenuePoints forPoints against
17 Aug 59C.A.S.IEsgrima403
22 Aug 59Buenos AiresEsgrima386
26 Aug 59OlivesEsgrima245
29 Aug 59C.U.B.AEsgrima420
2 Sep 59BelgranoEsgrima259
5 Sep 59ProvinciaEsgrima273
9 Sep 59PuerrydonEsgrima326
12 Sep 591st InternationalEsgrima146
16 Sep 59RosarioRosario810
19 Sep 59CapitalEsgrima190
23 Sep 59FrancesaEsgrima213
30 Sep 59ChileSantiago710
3 Oct 592nd InternationalEsgrima206

Argentina undertook non-Test tours of South Africa in 1965 and 1971, and the Gazelles toured Argentina in 1966 and 1972. The results of the matches played between the sides in those years were as follows (click on the links to see more info about these matches):

1965 – Junior Springboks 6-11 Argentina, Johannesburg
1966 – Argentina 3-9 Gazelles, Buenos Aires
1966 – Argentina 15-20 Gazelles, Buenos Aires
1971 – Gazelles 12-6 Argentina, Port Elizabeth
1971 – Gazelles 0-12 Argentina, Pretoria
1972 – Argentina 6-14 Gazelles, Buenos Aires
1972 – Argentina 18-16 Gazelles Buenos Aires

 

This is the complete team that toured to Argentina in 1972. Fifteen of this 1972 Gazelle side namely Paul Bayvel, Morné du Plessis, Dawie Snyman, Piet Cronje, Ray Carlson, Joggie Jansen, Niek Bezuidenhout, Gerrie Germishuys, Klippies Kritzinger, Kevin de Klerk, Dougald MacDonald, Jan Schlebush, Carel Fourie, Johan Strauss and Jackie Snyman became Springboks.

 Jannie van Aswegen718

Jannie van Aswegen was the Captain of the 1972 side in this picture shows him in his Junior Springbok jumper

Carel Fourie720 

Carel Fourie (also known as Tossie) was a future Springbok that went on this tour. Here is Carel in his Junior Springbok jersey.

After 1965 things become a little blurry with regard to criteria for selection. For intance in 1966 Dawie de Villiers captained a Junior Springbok side to Argentina in spite of the fact that he was already the captain of the Springboks (captained the Springboks to New Zealand in 1965). Jan Ellis was another 1965 Springbok that went on the 1966 tour as a Junior Springbok. In 1977 Gerald Bosch played for the Junior Springbok against a Presidents XV in a curtain raiser for the match between the Springboks and a world XV with the opening of the new Loftus Versfeld. Carel Fourie who played for the Springboks against the French in 1975 also played in that match for the Junior Springboks.  

With regard to the jersey as can be seen in the pictures above the 1972 team known as the Gazelle played in green with a red collar and white shorts. So it seems that the general practice was that Gazelle played in green and red with white shorts while the Junior boks played in dark blue jerseys and shorts as can be seen in the pictures below.

This picture shows Gerald Bosch playing for the Junior Springboks in 1977

Carel Fourie on his way to score a try for the Junior Springboks against a Presidents XV in 1977.  

As far as the criteria for selection for the Gazelle and Junior boks the general perception among the South African rugby public is that the Junior Boks consist of players of any age who have not yet played for the Springboks. The Gazelle is considered to be a selection of non-capped players younger than 24. 

For a bit more info on the Puma South Africa rugby history read here.  

The table below provides statistics of the Junior Springboks/Gazelle/Emerging Springboks against international touring sides. Those in blue provide match description (if you click on it). 

DateInternational sideVenueScore
1955British and Irish LionsBloemfonteinLost 12-15
1958FrancePort ElizabethWon 9-5
1960New ZealandDurbanLost 6-20
1962British and Irish LionsPretoriaLost 11-16
1963AustraliaSpringsWon 12-5
1969AustraliaSpringsLost 17-27
1970New ZealandPotchefstroomLost 25-29
1976New ZealandPort ElizabethLost 15-21
1980South American JaguarsPretoriaLost 19-30
1980British and Irish LionsJohannesburgLost 6-17
1981IrelandPretoriaWon 18-15
1992New ZealandPretoriaLost 25-10
1997British and Irish LionsWellingtonLost 51-21
2009British and Irish LionsCape TownDraw 13-13

Interestingly, the 1968 and 1974 British and Irish Lions did not play against the Junior Springboks and neither did the 1967 French side. The 1974 British and Irish Lions did play a match against the Quagga Barbarians (which they almost lost 27-20) who was essentially a junior Springbok team (see below).

 

For the 1980 match against Bill Beaumont’s Lions the team’s official title reverted to Junior Springboks lately they are referred to as the emerging Springboks. 

1980 gazelle721Brief summary of the 1980 British and Irish Lions against the Junior Springboks

1980 Gavin Cowley722 

This picture shows Gavin Cowley trying to start something playing for the Junior Springboks against the 1980 British and Irish Lions.

The Gazelle also played against a combined and invitational side from the United States, the Cougars that toured South Africa and Zimbabwe in 1978. The Cougars played six games in South Africa: against Natal, Combined Universities, Griquas, Northern Transvaal, South African Gazelles and Rhodesia, and won once. The victory was against Nortern Transvaal the reigning Currie Cup campions.

The picture below shows Rob Louw in action against the 1978 Cougars. The Cougar player directly behind Louw is Clarence Culpepper the captain of the 1978 Cougar team. The other Gazelle players on the picture from left to right are a young Schalk Burger senior, Ockie Oosthuizen and Martiens le Roux. Apart from the fact that Rob Lous scored a try and that the Gazelle team won I have no further info about this match 

 

 This picture shows the Jaguar centre Rafael Madeiro scoring against the Gazelle team in 1980. The Gazelle player look like W Kirkham.

The Gazelle teams that played against the Jaguars in 1980 and against the All Blacks in 1992 can be seen in the table below. 

 

1980 team vs Jaguars

Positions

1992 team vs All Blacks

C du Plessis (Tvl)

15

Gerbrand Grobler (NTvl)

B Koch (WP)

14

Jacques Olivier (NTvl)

J v/d Heever (NTvl)

13

Heinrich Fuls (Tvl)

C du Plessis (WP)

12

Bernard Fourie (Tvl)

W Kirkham (Tvl)

11

Chris Badenhorst (OFS)

W Dirksen (NTvl)

10

Jannie de Beer (OFS)

M van Blommenstein (WP)

9

Joost v/d Westhuizen (NTvl)

JP Geldenhuys (WP)

8

Tiaan Strauss (WP - Captain)

J Wessels (OFS)

7

Botha Rousseau (WTvl)

B Geldenhuys (NTvl)

6

Ruben Kruger (OFS)

De Villiers-Visser (WP)

5

Drikus Hattingh (NTvl)

B Pienaar (NTvl – Capt)

4

Kobus Wiese (Tvl)

F Baartman (NTvl)

3

Piet Bester (GW)

C Rogers (Rhod)

2

Harry Roberts (Tvl)

P v/d Merwe

1

Johan Styger (OFS)

Prof D Swiegers

Manager

 

Nelie Smith

Coach

 

Reserves

P Kruger (NTvl)

16

 

J Fenwick (WP)

17

 

F Weitsz (WP)

18

FC Smith

H Viljoen (NTvl)

19

 

R Whyte (N)

20

 

P Oosthuizen (WP)

21

 

Dr Johan Gouws

Referee

 

It is interesting to note the difference between the Gazelle team that played in 1980 against the Jaguars and the team that played against the 1980 British and Irish Lions. It is in essence two completely different teams (compare the team in the table above with the team in the picture that shows Burger Geldenhuys playing against the Lions). 

The 1992 game against the All Blacks was a bit of a disappointment. The junior boks had no idea how to construct a try; how to build phases; the importance of dominating the advantage line and how to use starter moves to create forward momentum. Kick and charge was the basic game plan. In short they got outsmarted and outplayed in the line-out and at the breakdowns. It was a case of every player that gets the ball just charged straight ahead trying to break through tackles. In most cases they then lost the ball forward when the All Blacks tackled in on the ball or they got rucked of the ball once they went to ground with the ball. Placing the ball in the tackle with supporting players that bridge over the ball was a foreign concept and they had really poor technique and discipline at the tackle ball. They kept falling over the ball and/or lost the ball forward or came in from the sides and were as a consequence extensively penalized by the referee. At once stage the referee actually lost his patience to such an extent that he started lecturing the South African players on the field.  

The New Zealand Cavaliers of 1986 also played against a Junior Springbok team see below.This team consited of the following players: Hugh Reece-Edwards, China Bell, Helgaard Muller, Frans Wessels, Jaco Reinach, Schalk Naude, Garth Wright, Jannie Breedt (Captain), Gert Small, Adolf Malan, Andre Markgraaf, Japie Wessels, Keith Andrews, Wessel Lightfoot, Paul Nieuwoudt. The Cavaliers won with one point 22-21.

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