Referee Professor Tinkie Heyns was the unlikely –and unwilling, one might add- hero of the fixture in Kimberley.
Kimberley goes with the accolade as the place which featured the ugliest incident during the 1970 tour. A full scale riot resulted in 1970 after a vindictive white punched a coloured running on the field –after the match- trying to get close to his hero Bryan Williams.
There were some ugly incidents in the run-up to this match which set the stage for this fixture to potentially turn just as brutal on the field as the Upington game and just as violent after the game as the 1970 game. The persistent skirmishing during the 1976 game in Upington led to a punch-up that evening in one of the pups between some local supporters and a few of the All Blacks.
The 1970 game resulted in some racial conflict after the game and in run-up to the ’76 fixture in Kimberley the possibility of a repeat of either the ’76 (fighting between players and supporters) Upington scene or the ’70 post match scenes (racial violence) or both become a distinct possibility because of the nature of a number of pre-match incidents.
The All Blacks are in trouble on the field and their friends the coloureds are sorrowing. The coloureds sided with the All Blacks and went out of their way too meet and see their hero's.
Taking the incidents preceding this match in Kimberley in order of occurrences there was first a scuffle in the cocktail bar of the Savoy hotel. A women sitting with two men attacked one of the men with a knife. Several All Blacks as well as AB manager Noel Stanley had a ringside view of these hostilities and only the intervening of a few journalists –escaping with some scratches and bruises- prevented this incident turning into something really nasty.
The fact that the incident reeked of disrespect for the dignity and well-being of other people could not escape the consciousness of the players. It is hard to treat people you play against (white South Africans or Afrikaners in general) with respect if you don’t respect them as a race/society anymore. It was the end of a long tour during which the Kiwi’s had been repeatedly disillusioned and disconcerted with lack of apathy between black and white and in general with Afrikaner mentality.
Next, JJ Stewart almost completely lost it when he saw the assistant hotel manager –and dual owner of the hotel where the All Blacks stayed- hurling a young coloured autograph hunter viciously to the ground in the hotel foyer just after the last mentioned took a picture of one of the All Blacks.
Stewart responded with anger; with his face inches away from the hotel owners’ he shouted: “No man does that to a human being, in my presence.” The situation was resolved in the assistant manager’s office but a substantial number of coloureds had gathered outside -by the time the cops arrived- silently but clearly unhappy watching proceedings unfold. The All Blacks went outside and started to mingle with them, signing autographs and generally treating them with acceptance and respect; this contributed to deflating a difficult situation.
All Black coach signing autographs for young fans. JJ Steward took serious offense when one of the coloureds were thrown to the ground by one of the hotel managers in the foyer of the hotel in which they stayed in Kimberley.
Into this mix was also the private dual between Frank Oliver and Hamish Macdonald for a spot in the test side as locking partner for Peter Whiting. Criticism against Macdonald was that he fades when things get hard. Oliver’s’ strength was his ability to brings fire to the pack. These two gents were paired together for this match -for only the second time in 23 matches- competing for a test place. The one out to show that he doesn’t fade when the going gets tough and the other one determined to confirm that he does make a difference to the pack with his fire and liveliness at mauls breakdowns and rucks.
The atmosphere was loaded, primed like an unstable powder-keg needing the slightest of sparks to ignite.
The match itself started off with fireworks similar to Upington and the situation was inches away from turning into yet another on the field bust-up with the potential to then spark some post-match violence. Tinkie Heyns with full appreciation of his duties took immediate and firm action and in doing so prevented a repeat of Upington 76 and Kimberley 1970. McLean writes:
Heyns was quick enough to see that from the second minute the fury in the Griquas’ forwards promised trouble. Lankester set at Leslie. Leslie responded. There was bitterness in the packs. Leslie was hit a second time. The punch was almost a knockout. Macdonald, not a man to be put upon or allow his teammates to be troubled, scrapped with young. It was the end of the road for Heyns. He spoke to both Leslie and Van As Jordaan and issued his general warning. “We knew then where we stood,” Macdonald said. “No sense in fighting after that.”
A little later in the match, Oliver found himself off-side at a maul (for which he was penalised) but Griquas flanker Jimmy Young -who had been very prominent in the first skirmish as well- let fly, and at, that very precise moment Heyns turned around saw the incident, and ordered Young off. McLean continues:
Young struck. He marched. Heyns was flustered, but firm. He was still flustered, later. He wondered at his career in refereeing. He could have been comforted by the sensible words of T.J. Botha in the Rand Daily Mail. “Professor Heyns’ decision,” T.J. said, “is an indictment of all those referees who have allowed players to start fights and go unpunished. If only one of them had had the courage to send off a player during any of those fight-marred games which followed the Northern Transvaal match, this tour would not have ended in the acrimony which has built up during the last month.” Hear, hear.
Referee Professor Tinkie Heyns has a ringside view as Hamish Macdonald leads with his left in the bout against Jimmy Young at Kimberley. Young was ordered off in the next round for hitting Frank Oliver.
Interestingly, the fighting and brutality of the 1976 tour started during the Northern Transvaal game mainly as a result of inciting articles by John du Toit and Quintes van Rooyen. These articles in essence stirred players and spectators to take action by putting attention on the “bullying” behaviour of Billy Bush.
Specifically, these articles sort of questioned the manly hood of South African rugby players by stating that –up too the NTVL game- none of the SA teams were able to put Bush at his right place; suggesting between the lines that SA players were either too soft, too scared or not able to sort the bullies in the All Black team.
A tackle by Thys Lourens in front of the main stand on Billy Bush -during the NTVL game- was cheered out of normal proportions indicating that the articles did stir-up players and spectators regarding Billy Bush. The trend was set for the ensuing games. The unspoken but very clearly understood message, was, that any average provincial rugby player could become a folk hero by sorting Billy Bush or any other All Black, for that matter, that seemed a little aggressive or robust.
Jimmy Young ended up the fall guy by responding on the robust play of Macdonald and Oliver who in essence were just competing for a test spot. Oliver and Macdonald jumped mightily in the lineouts and dashed about like spare loose forwards. The difference between the two came in the tight, driving play.
Macdonald was good; Oliver was outstanding. He prompted Griquas scrumhalf Gert Schutte to declare that Oliver was the best driving forward he had encountered all season. Oliver’s mighty game was awarded with fourth test selection the following morning. The margin between agony and ecstasy was pretty slim because either Macdonald or Oliver could have been the ones who got the marching orders that day in Kimberley. As a result of the fighting Andy Leslie suffered a broken denture and prop Perry Harris sported a beaut of a black eye.
Several of the All Blacks later confided that they wouldn’t have been surprised if one of their own players got the marching orders as well.
The game itself was an entertaining conglomeration of errors. Entertaining - because the All Blacks threw the ball around gaily. This resulted in a stuttery performance with some 50/50 passes and an agonising number of handling mistakes but the Kiwis ran in some spanking good tries. Bruce Roberston impressed scoring one try and making a try for Terry Mitchell. The other try scorers were Neil Purvis (2) and flyhalf Duncan Robertson. Laurie Mains, however, played himself right out of contention for the test side. He was indecisive, fumbled around, and got caught in possession too many times and kicked poorly.
Lyn Jaffray in all sort of problems as the All Blacks tried to run the ball against solid defence. Daan Wiese (No 11) is around his knees while Tielman de Villiers is going high.
Griquas’ only score was a penalty by winger Daan Wiese but did impress with their general structuredness and speed. Gert Schutte the Amazol and Griquas scrumhalf in particular made a good impression. Terry Mclean has the following on the Griqualand West team and Gert Schutte:
Griquas were too good a team to need to fight. Most impressive of their many qualities was speed. Every man raced to his job. The tackling was sharp.
Dirk Slabbert lost only one heel on his own head, a compliment to the qualities and firmness of the packing. Gearge Cronje (2.03 m) and Van As Jordaan (1.98 m) made most effective use of their height and from go the whoa were confounded nuisance to all except Knight, who ripped about like a man determined to win a cap.
Gert Schutte as a scrumhalf was outstanding quick. His pass to Tielman de Villiers on the right wing was so sharp that the later made 18 m and almost made the last five to the tryline. Quality here, no doubt of that; and one wondered why he had not reached higher than the reverse spot for two internationals.
Stanley Esterhuizen, his partner, was nifty, too, and Tos Smith, playing his 156th game for his province, was a sound and effective back until the pace applied by the All Blacks, especially in the three quarters, became intolerable.
Picture of Gert Schutte who made quite an impression on the Kiwis so much so that they unreservedly voted him the best scrumhalf they had seen on tour.
Griquas Captain and No8 is leaping high here while Jimmy Young on the left is trying his best to interfere with Leslie and Eveleigh.
Tielman de Villiers#
Van As Jordaan (C)
Andy Leslie (C)
Kielie de Kock
# replaced by Jock Sinclair after 79 minutes.
+ replaced by Henk Coetzee after 64 minutes
= ordered off after 37 minutes
Referee: Tinkie Heyns (Western Province); Crowd 8 000.
Run of play
Duncan Robertson try
Purvis try. Mains convert
Bruce Robertson try. Mains convert
Wiese penalty, 27 m
Mitchell try. Mains convert
Wiese missed two shots at penalty. De Villers tried a dropgoal attempt from a penalty and Esterhuizen missed with a penalty from 34 m. Mains missed two from 23 m and sliced a 43 m drop at goal from a penalty.
Oliver was one of four changes for Ellis Park. The others were the recall of Doug Bruce at flyhalf; the switching of Duncan Robertson from flyhalf to fullback in place of Kit Fawcett; the switching of Kent Lambert to loosehead prop for Perry Harris and Billy Bush at tighthead in place of Lambert.
The front row changes meant that the All Blacks went into the fourth test with their fourth front row combination (a different one for each test); Tanner and Lambert for the first test; Johnstone and Bush for the second; Harris and Lambert for the third and Lambert and Bush for the fourth.