King’s Park, Durban.
Glorious summer’s day, temperature 30 degree’s.
Crowd: 45 000.
Referee: Ian Gourlay (Natal).
Ian Robertson (Rhod)
1 drop goal
Edrich Krantz (OVS)
Johan Oosthuizen (WP)
Peter Whipp (WP)
Gerrie Germishuys (OVS)
Gerald Bosch (TVL)
Paul Bayvel (TVL)
1 Con, 1 pen
Morné du Plessis (WP)
Jan Ellis (TVL)
Boland Coetzee (WP)
Andy Leslie (C)
Moaner van Heerden (NTVL)
John Williams (NTV)
Rampie Stander (OVS)
Robert Cockrell (WP)
Derek v/d Berg (WP)
The first test of the 1976 series was a classic encounter in almost every sense with lots before and after match controversy, some excellent tries. The match also panned out differently than expected with the NZ forward pack surprising the springboks with their physicality and superior technique and the Springbok backline outplaying the New Zealand backline. The match was eventually won by the team who made the least amount of mistakes.
Here are the pictures of the Springbok team originally selected and above are the names of the players who eventually played. Dawie Snyman had to withdraw because of a hamstring injury on the Wednesday before the test and was replaced with Peter Whipp with Ian Robertson moving to the fullback position.
Before the game incidents/issues/stuff
The drama started with some controversial team selections on both sides and ended with those selections being instrumental to the outcome of the match. On the New Zealand side the selection of Duncan Robertson –normally a flyhalf- on fullback ahead of the two touring fullbacks Laurie Mains and Kit Fawcett was a shocker.
Laurie Mains did not impress up to this stage on tour in particular with his place kicking which cost NZ the match against Western Province. The Kit Fawcett saga was a much more interesting story with Fawcett’s selection for the touring side being questioned by many as he was not even able to maintain his place in the starting line-up of the Auckland university team. Just after arrival he made a remark, to a female reporter, to the extent that the All Blacks expect to score more off the field than on the field which irked the All Black management to the extreme.
McLean has the following on Kit Fawcett and his omission from the team for the first test:
Fawcett bounded into the team on the strength of a fine trail a month before the team was chosen without any succeeding recommendations. A bouncy 21-year-old, potentially an outstanding athlete, he was soon found to be the eternal youth, in excelsis –brash, super-confident, harum-scarum. He had scarcely begun the tour before he was announcing that one of his pleasures in life was not conforming.
His genial greeting to John Stewart of “Hi Coach” while the All Blacks were preparing in East London for their first match produced such a ticking-off as might have reduced even an insensitive man to whimpers.
Kit, or, as he was known to his family, “Louie”, bounced along, charming himself each day with some new facet of his personality. In the background, Jay Jay” took to muttering that if some other bastard did not break Kit’s leg, or arm, he would.
When Jay Jay Stewart announced that, as for the first test, Duncan Robertson would play fullback, it was said to him: “It is a criticism that, if you believed Duncan was the man for the job, you did not play him a couple of times in the back before the test”. “I am aware of this,” said Stewart. “It is a fair comment. But I kept on hoping that Fawcett would come right”.
Fawcett’s relaxed style clearly did not fit into the All Black culture of respect for traditions and for senior members of the team. This and some on the field incidents which demonstrated lack of discipline and commitment to a pre-arranged game plan which caused the team to leak tries against provincial sides had much to do with the decision to play Duncan Robertson on fullback.
On South Africa’s side the inclusion of Edrich Krantz –a 21-year old winger from Free State who captained the SA u/21 side to South America the previous year- was the big surprise as was the inclusion of Ian Robertson, the Rhodesian fullback, on centre which broke-up the established Whipp/Oosthuizen Western Province centre combination. Jan Ellis was playing in his 38th test match equaling Frik du Preez’s national record. The three Transvalers in the team –Ellis, and the halfback combination of Bayvel and Bosch- were considered, before the match, as key to Springbok victory. As it turned out all three had very average matches.
The three Transvalers -Paul Bayvel, Jan Ellis and Gerald Bosch- in the Springbok team who was considered to be key players for the Springboks.
Derek van den Berg one of two members of the South African team who followed in the footsteps of their Springbok fathers.
Two Springbok players followed in their father’s footsteps. Derek van den Berg was the son of Mauritz who locked the scrum in all three internationals in 1937. The other one, who received a lot more attention, was Morné du Plessis who completed a unique double when he emulated his farther Felix by leading the Springboks against New Zealand.
Morné was also primarily responsible for coaching the forwards.
The Springboks, under the guidance of Morné looked impressive in their workouts. Selection convener, Johan Claassen stayed true to his word that he would not don his tracksuit at the training when asked who would really be handling the coaching of the side. Ian Kirkpatrick –the former Springbok centre and coach- put the backs through some slick handling drills, done at smart pace.
Morné du Plessis leading the Springboks on the field in the first test of the 1976 series. Du Plessis was captain and coach and it was his infectious enthusiasm, will to win and leadership more than anything else that rubbed off on the 1976 Springboks and which settled the team in the nerve-wracked first and lifted them to victory in the crucial third test.
The preparations were, however, severely hampered when Dawie Snyman –the vice-captain and a vital link in the plans as an attacking fullback- had to withdraw due to a hamstring strain. Rumours buzzed about the Springbok camp when it was learnt that Snyman was flying home on the first flight and not staying for the test. Was there distention in the camp and did Snyman withdrew because we was told to pull out? That was just some of the questions and speculations flying around.
The biggest disaster was yet to come and on the Friday morning Gerald Bosch was in bed with a heavy dose of flu running a temperature of 102 degree. It was going to be a desperate close race to get him in any sort of condition to play a rugby test and this news had to be kept from the enemy at all cost as it could gave them a serious psychological boost.
Here is Gerald Bosch being led off by the Springboks team doctor Jack Sweidan –to be replaced by De Wet Ras- 10 minutes before the end. The Springboks gambled heavily with Bosch in this test and he could not do himself justice missing with 5 normally easy penalties for him and with the conversion of Krantz’s try –which hit the upright- and two drop goal attempts. Those long kicks deep to the corners driving the opposition back on their heels were also missing from his game and there was no snap about his general play.
The general predictions before the match were that South African should dominate set piece forward play and that New Zealand would be the better when it comes to backline play.
Moaner van Heerden and John Williams on the charge in the first test. The Springbok forwards did not dominate as expected in this test but van Heerden was a menacing presence right through the series and made his presence felt in no uncertain way with an infamous stepping incident in one of the later tests culminating in some grim exchanges between him and the All Blacks in the third and fourth test.
Run of play
Williams penalty goal, 31m.
Bosch penalty, 34m.
Germishuys try. Bosch converts.
Williams missed penalty kicks from 42 and 31 meters. He also missed the conversion of Jaffray’s try.
Bryan Williams had an average day with the boot.
Bosch missed penalties from 48, 45, 34, 22 and 48 meters. Bosch hit the upright when trying to converts Krantz’s try; he also missed two drop goals. De Wet Ras who replaced Bosch missed with a 48 meter penalty.
About the match
In between all the crises and controversies there was also some rugby, much of it error-ridden and nerve-wracked; some positively breathtaking in execution. In the end the 45 000 spectators and millions in front of the TV –this was in all likelihood the first ever Springbok test shown live on TV in South Africa- were served up a sort of match that one tends to equate with a test between the Springboks and the All Blacks.
South Africa kicked off and within a couple of minutes Gerald Bosch was having an attempt at goal –which failed- from near the halfway line.
Gerald Bosch kicking for goal in the first test with Krantz and Whipp in the background. Slotting goals under pressure of Test match demands require a clean bill of health. Yet the flu ridden Bosch -repute for his accurate place and drop kicking- although missing with 8 kicks were still able to contribute 5 points; slotting a penalty by halftime to make the scores 3 all and succeeding with the extremely vital conversion of Gerrie Germishuys’s try from an acute angle.
It was New Zealand who had the next scoring opportunity when Leslie chased a kick –initially he had a huge slice of luck as Boland Coetzee put him onside when the kick overhead touched him- dribbled it past Springbok fullback Ian Robertson and kicked it ahead for the goalline. He had three meters start on the nearest Springbok. A certain 6 points loomed, but then, at the last second as Leslie began to lunge for the try the ball developed a wicked curl and snuck around the upright, so that Leslie couldn’t get to it. “I’ve never been more frustrated than I was at that moment,” the All Black captain declared later.
Two interesting incidents during the first test. Above Tane Norton is landing a kick on Paul Bayvel. Bayvel didn’t get much protection from his forwards with the All Blacks dominating procedures upfront in this is one of quite a few occasions when the New Zealanders got to him. Below is a picture of the close-Andy-Leslie-try with players lying all over the place after the Springboks were able –thanks to a fortunate bounce of the ball- to dot it down.
It was all New Zealand for the first 15 minutes and there were a few more scoring opportunities for the All Blacks during this long period of almost complete dominance which they were unable to convert into points. Bryan Williams succeeded with a penalty in the 11th minute but missed with a second one and Sid Going was only inches away from dotting down –a Springbok hand winning the touchdown fractionally ahead of Going- under the posts after Paul Bayvel got caught near the line as he tried to run his way out of trouble.
The Springbok pack was being outplayed and the much-vaunted line-out jumping strength was playing second fiddle to a big match-inspired Peter Whiting. Whiting’s controlled line-out deflecting was a revelation. The department, in which the Springboks based so much pre-test faith, was taken over by the Kiwi’s. With a stream of possession from line-out, scrum and more important ruck and maul, the New Zealand bombardment continued unabated.
Terry McLean writes:
A serious error of judgment by the Springboks was the apprehension that their leading lineout players, John Williams and Moaner van Heerden, would demolish Peter Whiting and Hamish Macdonald in the battle for the ball within the lines and that, at the lineout’s end, du Plessis, 1.98 meters tall, would make a mockery of his contest with Stewart or Leslie. The All Blacks won the lineout contest by 19 clear-cut possessions to 13. It was a remarkable achievement. But the sum of South Africa’s blunders big and small was much, much less than the sum of New Zealand’s.
Some pictures of the battle between the locks in the first test. It was intense and New Zealand made a serious mistake by not playing more with their set piece in the second half because Whiting and Macdonald outplayed menacing Moaner and the Jolly Jumper Johnie.
Back of the line-out was also an even contest with Du Plessis slightly taller than Leslie while Kirkpatrick had a slight height advantage over Ellis.
Big Moaner charged downfield on a few occasions in storming rage but the lack of Springbok drive on the sides of the scrum was glaringly apparent. Jan Ellis and Morné threw the ball to each other ineffectively behind the scrum making everyone wonder what exactly they were up to while what they needed to do was to drive the ball up.
Ian Kirkpatrick, on the All Black-side, was almost unstoppable on the burst; running wide to make valuable yardage across the advantage line. Kirkpatrick was clearly the forward of the match his only mistake doing the runs maybe too often and getting isolated from his support creating turnover ball for South Africa in the process.
The Springboks forwards owed a debt of gratitude to their inside backs for the way these little guys went in on defense pulling down, hustling, bustling and hampering the likes of Ian Kirkpatrick, Ken Stewart and Andy Leslie as they tried to punch holes in the South African midfield.
Jan Ellis and Ken Stewart chasing after the ball. Ellis was outplayed at the breakdowns and looked just a bit tentative with the ball in the hand not taking it to the All Blacks and it was no surprise when he was replaced by Theuns Stofberg for the second test.
Boland Coetzee here in action. He had to play a lot tighter but played well enough to get a recall for the second test.
Another Boland Coetzee action picture; tackling Kerry Tanner.
Going clearing from behind the scrum.
The halftime score was 3 all and the All Black looked clearly in control. They opened the second half quite sensationally when they switched the kick-off with Leslie ordering a kick-off to the wrong side. Morné du Plessis got to the ball first but then threw a pass that was superbly read and intercepted by the illusive and inventive little Grant Batty. He plucked the ball out the air and set-off; slipped inside Edrich Krantz as if debutant 21-year-old Free State winger was not there and with beautiful controlled running, cleverly supported by Stewart, the ball eventually went to centre Lyn Jaffray who scored in the corner. The score suddenly 7-3 in favor of the All Blacks.
Lyn Jaffray who scored at the start of the second half after some clever running by Grant Batty.
This was the supreme test for Du Plessis’s captaincy credentials and indeed for the character of the 1976 Springboks.
Nine minutes later the Springboks moment of glory manifest itself in a glorious Gerrie Germishuys try after the wingman legged it down the left hand touch line and eluded the defense of the two Robertson’s (Bruce and Duncan) with just a hint of an in-and-out.
It was a full backline move; the ball flowing down the backline for once. Peter Whipp quickly summed up the situation and send a long pass past Oosthuizen into the hands of Ian Roberston coming in from fullback.
This allowed Ian Robertson to pull Williams in on defense before putting the flying winger in space.
Germishuys had little room in which to manoeuvre but the sheer speed with which a ran into the ball allowed him to slip past Bruce and then with just a slight in and a huge outside swerve he shed off Duncan’s attempt to get hold of him and scored a great try in the corner that set the crowd roaring. Bosch slotted the conversion and the boks where ahead and stayed ahead for the remainder of the game.
Gerrie Germishuys scoring a magnificent Springbok try in the left hand corner.
There was 7 minutes left on the clock when Bayvel broke from a scrum, going blindside. He showed a surprising turn of speed and was slipping away from Going when Sid in a despairing dive were able to ankle tap him. Bayvel started stumbling –eventually falling forward- but was able to slipped the ball backwards. Duncan Robertson was coming in at speed and bent to pick it up, missed, and swooping in to collect and score was Edrich Krantz.
Series of pictures showing Edrich Krantz’s try in his first test. At the top Bayvel breaking away. Second picture Bayvel at full speed with Going diving forward to ankle tap him. Third picture showing Krantz lying in disbelief on the ball after scoring. Fourth picture big Jolly Jumper John Williams walking hand over shoulder with Krantz after he helped the stunned Krantz -who was lying on his stomach staring at the ball in disbelief- on his feet.
The All Blacks came back with a vengeance after kick-off. They tried hard to score through spirited use of the backline, but the Springbok defence held. Five minutes from the end Ian Kirkpatrick stormed away from a line-out. Going kept things moving and when Doug Bruce got caught the whole pack enveloped him and drove forward in a wave of bodies that the Springboks seemed powerless to check. Only yards remained and a try looked a certainty when referee Ian Gourlay, “criminally” penalized Leslie, seemingly, for being in front of the ball. No such penalty exist, of course, and Ian Gourlay did not do himself or South African referee’s any favours with vague evasive responses after the match like “I don’t remember that” or “I don’t know” or “when was that?”
Sometime later, sources close to Gourlay reveal that he penalized Leslie for over-robust play. It appears that Leslie was penalized for kicking at Du Plessis’s groin after the boks skipper had grabbed his counterpart by the throat in a fierce exchange. Somehow even that just doesn’t have a ring of truth.
“I knew at that moment we could not win this test,” said a dejected Leslie later.
The last points came in the final minutes of the match when Duncan Robertson failed to find touch from inside his 22 and Ian Robertson slammed a low flying drop goal.
After the game reactions/occurrences
Apart from the Leslie penalty in the last 5 minutes there were a number of other incidents which caused some controversy and spirited debate afterwards.
The replacing of Bosch 10 minutes before the end being one of them with the Kiwi’s complaining that South Africa bent the substitution rule by replacing someone who went onto the field ill and was not injured or indisposed by anything that happened on the field. They were also highly skeptical when it was revealed that Bosch left the field due to a blow to the head.
The All Blacks felt afterwards that they allowed this match to slip away by making too many errors; in execution; on the defence; not reading the game tactically well enough. There were defensive lapses on the All Black side with both the South African tries -scored by Germishuys and Krantz- which left the Kiwi coaching staff unhappy. Another critique was that tactically they should have played more with their forwards as they were clearly in control up front. You win test matches by not making mistakes under presuure and by taking your changes and the All Blacks, writes Terry McLean, came-up short in both regards in this test they failed to take their changes and they made collectively more blunders than South Africa.
They were warned before the match, by the survivors of 1970 series, about debilitations of Durban’s humility and it was felt by the South Africans that the heat got to them contributing to lapses in concentration towards the mid and later parts of the second half.
Grant Batty cooling off during the test which was played in 30 degree heat an which Terry McLean call the shirt-sleeve test.
Grant Batty also re-injured his knee in this test. Here he is curling in pain on the ground while being ignored by the South African players.