The series was square -one test all- and the third test was therefore of critical significance for both sides. As is often the case with so much at stake it was a brutal affair.
The tempers flared.
Tension related jittery movements caused heaps of unforced errors during the match while tentative decision making and mind boggling unintelligent option taking, incompetence and idiotic mistakes manifested itself at crucial stages before and during the test.
This test could be labeled the error-ridden test or the violence test –take your pick.
In terms of violence it was intense and Going later said it was the toughest test of his career. Not dirty; but the label violent justifiable based on a number of brutal occurrences before, during and after the match.
There was the teargas incident before the test, the Moaner van Heerden stepping and dust-up incidents during the test and the Johan Strauss head butt incident after the match (more about this in the section entitled before and after match incidents). In the final analyses the test was won by the side most desperate to win -which was South Africa- but that desperation resulted in questionable tactics and application to the extent that it was no victory for SA rugby, according to Terry Mclean. McLean writes:
South Africa deserved to win the match. The probability of her victory had strengthened as one critic after the other screamed through the preceding week at the incompetence of Professor Johan Claassen and his selection committee and at the corresponding incompetence of the Springbok team the selectors had chosen.
It was not possible to believe that young, ardent and proud men invited to play for their country would suffer these insults –as many were- without feeling a powerful revulsion against the critics and an even more powerful determination to blast their eyes and damn their bloody souls.
He also writes that the South African tactics and the blemishes of the South African referee –such as turning a blind eye to certain practices of the home team- smeared South Africa’s reputation as a sporting nation. The expression of team tactics and referee blemish was in McLean’s words a statement spiritual in its dept, of the South African determination not to be beaten. This was nationalism, Afrikanerdom more likely, bared before all witnesses. It was neither warming nor charming.
McLean also state: South Africa did not win entirely by these (foul) methods, though they were undoubtedly helped, but they did themselves and the rugby of their country a grave disservice.
The main complaint of the kiwis was new prop forward Johan Strauss. Not only did he lift Kevin de Klerk in the lineouts but he used illegal tactics to force the scrums to collapse on kiwi put-ins. Even though Carwyn Jones the 1971 British Lions coach believed the Springboks achieved little advantage from Strauss’s tactics –which he described as both dangerous and illegal – this disruption of the scrum took All Black playmaker Sid Going out of the match. The confident general lauded as the mastermind of the All Black second test victory stumbled and slid down the slope of mediocrity as a result of the All Black scrum being repeatedly disrupted at Newlands.
Terry McLean main story line –that the methods used to ensure victory epitomized Afrikaner nationalism desperation- seems to be based on the referee Gert Bezuidenhout’s unwillingness or reluctance to take control with regard to the brutal stepping tactics of Moaner van Heerden; the illegal scrummaging methods of Johan Strauss; the lifting of Kevin de Klerk; the glaringly obvious foot-up tactics of Piston van Wyk and awarding Snyman a dropkick which had swung outside the right-hand upright. The way Bezuidenhout “deliberately” positioned himself at scrums and lineouts so that he “could not see” the infringements of the Springboks bordered for McLean on criminal and was for him offensive to the spirit of rugby.
McLean might just have been a little wrapped-up in post match disappointment when he wrote his piece on the third test. It is hard –even for modern day referees- to determine exactly what is going on in the scrums and the Springboks contented that Strauss scrummed within the laws and that it was his intense strength and scrummaging expertise that caused Harris to wilt, buckle and collapse so often.
Referees are human too and not immune to the tension and mental strain of the occasion and are therefore just as prone as coaches and players to make mistakes in such extremely loaded situations. McLean would have been more accurate or at least more reasonable and fair in his assessment if he took a deep breath and stepped away from his prejudged Afrikaner nationalism mindset theory and interpreted happenings and occurrences from the perspective of tension and human error.
Benefitting from 34 years of post match emotional detachment and from having had at least 15 years –since the abandonment of Apartheid- to come to grips with 30 years of personal Afrikaner nationalism indoctrination it seems more sensible for me to analyze this test from the perspective of it being the error-ridden test. Not only were the two tries scored the result of errors but the scrum vows of the Kiwi’s seems to stem from selection errors made by the New Zealand coach Jay Jay Stewart.
Piston van Wyk's foot flashed out like a striking rattlesnake but was never penalised for foot-up, according to Terry McLean. Powered though he was by a huge pack, van Wyk beat Norton only once in a contest on Norton's head and in turn was beaten himself once -a commentary on his inadequate technique and his venerable years writes McLean sounding just a little bitter.
Stewart made as many as four changes to the victorious second test line-up. Kevin Eveleigh had been dropped for Ken Stewart and Doug Bruce for Duncan Robertson. These players had been linchpins of the Bloemfontein victory; Bruce’s tactical kicking and Eveleigh’s speed of the side of the scrum had disrupted the Springbok inside backs.
The crucial selection error was however in the frontrow. The situation had been complicated by injuries and illness and Stewart made selections choices based on his believes that neither Billy Bush -injured ankle- nor Kerry Tanner – recently recovered from mysterious bug illness- would be able to stand-up to the rigors of test level scrummaging.
In he brought the totally inexperienced Perry Harris on loosehead while first choice loosehead Kent Lambert were moved to the tighthead position. It was a huge gamble with both frontrowers and it cost New-Zealand dearly as Transvaal strong-man Johan Strauss buckled, bent and finally destroyed his opposite number, and the ill effect spread through the rest of the team.
Davis and Harding in their book "Toughest of them all" opiniates that the deciding moment of the '76 series was when the Springbok selectors finaly got it right and selected Strauss and Kevin de Klerk in the pack. This selection resulted in the Springboks dominating the set piece (scrum and lineout) to the extent that NZ couldn't get into the game. The impact of that selection was undoubtedly amplified by the fact that the tourist got it wrong with their frontrow selection. The inexperienced Harris (on the far end furthest from the camera on the right) and Kent Lambert (on the left) selected out of position had a torrid time in the scrums.
Trouble up front for the Kiwi’s in the third test
Struggling in the set piece the NZ halfbacks was under extreme presure with Boland Coetzee a real menace through-out the match. Here Coetzee chase onto Duncan Robertson (on the left) and cramp-in Going (on the right).
The Kiwi scrummaging problems was not helped by the fact that Whiting’s right ear was almost ripped off by the boot of Moaner van Heerden in the 59th minute. First a strip of plaster was put around the head. Later a second strip was wrapped on and still later a third strip. After the match six stitches were required to re-attach the ear but the wound impacted on Whiting’s play as it was painful and it stopped him from applying pressure upon his prop as he packed into the scrums.
Moaner van Heerden also kicked Sid Going in the head in the 27th minute. McLean writes as follows about the Moaner incidents:
Going rose up and for all that he was outweighed in pounds and overborne in height, he whaled into van Heerden, driving him with hard, shrewd punches to the body down the field. Along the way, someone biffed Moaner van Heerden on the left cheek, a good punch.
Whiting did not react so strongly, for the adequate reason that his right ear, as he stood up, was spouting blood and hanging from his head.
See footage of Going charging into Moaner van Heerden in this video clip. The New Zealand commentator is totally confused as who is the guilty party.
A determined Ian Kirkpatrick playing lock in this fourth test sorting out Moaner van Heerden. The All Balcks were determined to get to Van Heerden in the fourth test after he almost raked Whiting’s ear off his head in the 3rd test as can be seen in the top pictures.
Being the astute observer that he was McLean was not at all oblivious to the fact that New Zealand contributed to their own demise. He writes:
The All Blacks aided the South African cause by committing Rugby’s version of hara-kiri. It was stupid of Sid Going to miss three attempts at penalty goals, two downwind, one up, from within 30m or less of the goalline.
It was damn silly of Going and Duncan Robertson, who admittedly were placed under constant and severe pressure, to mull passes and catches.
It was idiotic for Duncan Robertson, Morgan and Fawcett to attempt to thread through a defence that was poised, quick and valiant. It was breathtaking –like a kick in the solar plexus- for Williams, Bruce Robertson, Stewart and countless others, to miss tackles, especially when the superior efforts of the Springboks could be constantly observed.
1 con; 2 pen
Morné du Plessis (C)
Andy Leslie (C)
kevin de Klerk
Moaner van Heerden
Piston van Wyk
The match official was Gert Bezuidenhout (Transvaal); Match attendance was 47 000.
Run of play
Bruce Robertson try
Bosch penalty, 34 m
Williams penalty, 54 m
Bosch penalty, 27 m
Oosthuizen try, Bosch convert
Williams penalty, 31 m
Snyman dropgoal, 31 m
Bosch missed penalties from 40, 43, 18 and 22 meters. Williams missed one from 52 meters. Going missed penalties from 18, 25 and 31 meters. Going was disallowed to kick a penalty by the referee because he took too long as a result of the ball falling over three times.
The Springboks began with tremendous zest and although they conceded the first try –an opportunistic effort by Bruce Robertson- they played throughout with greater fire, used better tactics and took less risks.
Boland Coetzee taking the ball up. The Springboks started with lots of zest and passion and played with greater desperation and fervour throughout the match.
The Bruce Robertson try in the 7th minute resulted from two mistakes by the South African wingers Chris Pope and Gerrie Germishuys. First, Pope kicked a ball that he should have popped over the sideline high over the forwards down the throat of Kit Fawcett; with nobody to chase Fawcett sent it back with interest; into no-man’s-land behind Germishuys.
Germishuys turning around to get the ball first tried to run out of trouble and when he got caught he flicked the ball back in the direction of Dawie Snyman. Robertson was at hand and he dribbled the ball in the direction of the Springbok goalline and had no trouble outsprinting Dawie Snyman in the race to the ball to score the first try of the match.
The Bruce Robertson try can be seen here.
This series of pictures show the first try. First, Germishuys got caught and held up with a hand around his throat. Look how ineffectively Johan Oosthuizen joins the situation; upright in no position to drive forward and no attempt to get his hands on the ball. The next series of pictures shows Robertson toeing the ball forward and him and Snyman chasing after it.
The all Blacks were still leading with the Springboks finding it very difficult to breach their defence in the 57th minute of the match when New Zealand made a crucial error in judgment which effectively ended their challenge to win the series.
Electing not to play percentage rugby -while ahead- the All Blacks spun the ball from a lineout inside their own half. Duncan Robertson moved the ball on to Joe Morgan as Kit Fawcett raced up to take the pass at centre, Bruce Robertson sprinting ahead as a decoy. It was the same move from the same situation which put the All Blacks ahead 27-26 against Northern Transvaal. That was a desperate situation as compared to the situation in the test where NZ was in the lead and South Africa chasing.
Bruce Roberson wasn’t far enough ahead as Morgan threw the pass and Fawcett wasn’t properly balanced as he came in at speed to take it. It is not clear whether the ball bounced off his shoulder or whether he knocked it backwards with his hands as he reached for it but the ball leaped way from Fawcett and hang in the air for a moment. Johan Oosthuizen swooped in on it in a flash and raced towards the New Zealand goalline only about 30 meters away.
Top: Johan Oosthuizen on his way to the goalline after intercepting the ball. Bottom picture: dotting down with Duncan Robertson too late.
The Johan Oosthuizen try can be seen here.
South Africa forwards held the initiative from here on and Bosch and Bayvel made sure to keep the ball in front of the pack and that the game were played in the New Zealand side of the field, during the last quarter.
Few of the All Blacks played well. Going, Duncan Robertson, and Fawcett had dreadful games in the backline and the forwards never achieved the control they had enjoyed at Bloemfontein.
Some before and after match occurences
The Cape Times preview on the morning of the third test had put the question: “Are the All Blacks just another good team or are they the most successful side to come to South Africa – today will tell.”
Alan Sutherland remembering it walked into the cocktail party after the match and said: “I regret to say, men, that we are just another good team. We are not the greatest.”
The South Africans -to use a boxing term- came off the ropes fighting as the heavily criticized team went into the third test and an event that evening epitomized the attitude of mind of the South Africans, for Terry McLean. Alan Masters, an Englishman who managed the Springboks hotel was head butted that evening by Johan Strauss for making the fatal mistake of telling one of the Springboks –with Strauss listening in- that he felt Kevin de Klerk was lifted in the lineouts.
Demonstrations continued throughout the All Black stay in Cape Town with the main street Adderley Street being closed down for several hours on both the Thursday and Friday. Until Cape Town, the All Blacks had viewed the unrest and the reports of rioting with a sympathetic but, nonetheless, detached air.
The strikes, however, took on a new meaning for at least two members of the party on the Friday before the test. Ian Kirkpatrick, Bryan Williams and at least two Kiwi journalists attended a lunch-hour book signing session at a store in the city centre. Minutes after the book signing riots broke out and the police tear gassed the whole area.
Running blindly after having swallowed large gulps of teargas Kirkpatrick and Bryan Williams was eventually recued by police (see photo below).
Picture showing Kirkpatrick in a police wagon getting treated after being exposed to teargas.
Kirkpatrick was violently sick on his return to the hotel, while the rest of the kiwi's involved were badly shaken-up by the incident.
Severely disappointed that the dream of winning a series in South Africa was done and dusted and with mounting frustration regarding referees and with some unhappy squad members –overseen for positions in the test side- like Kerry Tanner, Laurie Mains, Kevin Eveleigh and Doug Bruce the All Blacks travelled into Upington. Here the irritation and frustrations culminated into a big dust-up with desert hardened Namib and Kalahari boys who seemd more intend on sorting the All Blacks out with big tackles and some stolen punches than playing the game.
Some action pictures from the third test
Top: Bayvel preparing to kick. He and Bosch kept the ball before their forwards.
Middle: Going slipped into mediocrity as a result of playing behind a struggling scrum and under scrutiny of Boland Coetzee.
Bottom: Dawie Snyman again didn’t impress.
Top: Oosthuizen passing.
Middle: Springboks on the charge. The boks played with passion and determination and were dominant at the tackle area.
Bottom: A determined Stofberg charging into the cavalry.
Top: Going didn’t have a good day with the boot and couldn’t land one penalty.
Middle: Is that lifting in the lineout. Kevin de Klerk being supported by Strauss.
Bottom: Moaner van Heerden Charging into Mcdonald and Kirkpatrick after a kick-off.
The face of Morné du Plessis showing the strain of test rugby.