Hanan Shield Districts
Bay of Plenty
The 1994 rugby season was an eventful one for South African rugby. The Springboks were branded as professionals, as vendors of violence, as having no discipline and little individual class. Controversy followed them every step of the long climb back up the mountain of re-entry into international rugby.
The professionalism versus amateurism issues where pushed to the forefront during the EOYT by the British tabloids. The Springboks were hounded by the British media during their EOYT to reveal details of payments received after rumours that the South African Super10 franchise players are getting paid.
There was increasing awareness in South Africa that a sport that engages its major performers from February until December could no longer call itself an amateur sport. The barrier of pretence (pretended resistance against professionalism) was gradually dissolving but it was the South African players that were taking the lead to change the ingrained mind set. Springbok Captain Francois Pienaar became a spokesman for professionalism in rugby during 1994 EOYT tour when he declared himself available to lead an informal grouping of senior players to campaign for clearer guidelines and structure for remuneration of players.
This seemed a logical step as the Southern hemisphere season had for the 2nd year in a row a February start -with the Super10 competition that started in 1993- and were still playing rugby in November. It involved the top performing provinces in New Zealand, South Africa and Australia and did not only lenghten the playing season from February to December but also involved more travel and time away from work. It became increasingly harder for rugby players to keep a job and play rugby at the highest level at the same time.
Transvaal, Natal and Eastern Province toured to New Zealand playing three matches each between March and May of 1994 (Transvaal played two in NZ and 1 in Brisbane against Queensland). The New Zealand sides in the competition (North Harbour, Otago, Waikato and Auckland) and the Australian sides (Queensland and New South Wales) were in the same boat. The 10th team in the competition was Western Samoa.
Natal and Queensland played in the final in Durban on 14 May 1994. Queensland won 21-10. The tables below provide information about the Super10 tournament of 1994.
The international season started in June. The Springboks played their first against England at Loftus Versfeld on the 4th of June 1994; they lost 15-32. It was a shockingly horrible display by the Springboks and 4 Springboks lost their places in the starting line-up for the second test at Newlands the next weekend. Joost van der Westhuizen was replaced by Johan le Roux; Adriaan Richter replaced Tiaan Strauss behind the scrum; Ian MacDonald moved in on the side of the scrum in place of Fritz van Heerden and Mark Andrews replaced Hannes Strydom at lock. This had the necessary effect and the team heroically overturned the upset of the previous weekend by beating England comprehensively 27-9.
They then embarked on a tour to New Zealand which was not a happy chapter in the annals of Springbok rugby. Not only were they unable to win a test match –losing the first two and drawing the last- but the tour was embroiled in controversy over foul play. James Small was send off against Waikato for reckless play while a punch-up against Manawatu saw Adri Geldenhuys getting his walking papers as well.
The cream de la crème of shame was however an incident in the second test when prop forward Johan le Roux got cited and send home for biting Sean Fitzpatrick’s ear.
The disappointment in SA with the Springboks was rampant at this stage. The general feeling was that the Springboks had spoilt -with ill-discipline- an unprecedented opportunity to exploit a sub-par All Black side.
Things got ugly at home when Springbok manager Jannie Engelbrecht and SARFU president Dr Louis Luyt became involved in a heated public stand-off. Things got so bad that Luyt resigned. Under pressure from Minister of Sport Steve Tshwete Luyt rescinded his decision within 24 hours. He and Engelbrecht called an uneasy truce and Engelbrecht retained his position but McIntosh was replaced by Kitch Christie as coach.
Kitch Christie’s stint as Springbok coach started with two matches against Argentina on the 8th and 15th of October; South Africa won both 42-22 and 46-26.
The year ended with 13-match tour through the United Kingdom. South Africa lost only a midweek match against Scotland A (17-15) but won Scotland (34-10) on 19 November at Edinburg and Wales (20-12) at Cardiff on 26 November. Most impressively was the style in which the Springboks won. They scored 5 tries against Scotland and 3 tries against Wales.
The season ended with South Africa having played 9; winning 5; losing 3 and drawing 1.