The McLook rugby collection
20 July 1976 - South African Gazelle 15 / All Blacks 21
Boet Erasmus, Port Elizabeth
Weather: fine, warm with a wisp of a breeze.
Crowd: 27 000.
Referee: Max Baize (Eastern Province).
“Doc” Louw (Natal)
Cheeky Watson (EP)
Christo Wagenaar (NTVL)
Dirk Froneman (OVS)
Hermanus Potgieter (OVS)
1 try, 1 pen
De Wet Ras (OVS)
Barry Wolmerans (OVS)
1 Con, 3 pen
Nick Mallet (WP)
Eben Jansen (OVS)
Corrie Pypers (TVL)
Hennie Bekker (WP)
Theuns Stofberg (OVS)
Noel van Rensburg (OVS)
Wouter Hugo (OVS)
Okkie Oosthuizen (WTVL)
Tane Norton (C)
Barry Wolmarans here playing for the Springboks during the 1981 tour to New Zealand. He was one of the future Springboks who played for the Gazelles against the 76 AB’s.
Hermanus Potgieter also played in this match. Here he is on his way to the 1977 try of the year against an invitation XV.
Before the game incidents/issues/stuff
Port Elizabeth was hit by a howling gale the day before the match and there were fears that the wind will “blow the match away as a spectacle”.
Happily, on match day the wind had ease of to just a gentle breeze.
A Mercedes-Benz 350SE automatic was made available to All Black skipper Andy Leslie for his exclusive use while in PE.
The All Black coach J.J. Stewart caused quite a stir when he was quoted in one of the local newspapers saying that the Springboks would win the series. “We are not a great side,” he said, “and New Zealand rugby is passing through lean years at the moment.”
A set of white rugby jerseys -purchased on behalf of the All Blacks by Phillips Ltd- was presented by the All Blacks in PE to the Leopards. The Leopards were the South African representative team of black players -who normally wears black jerseys -and they were due to play against the All Blacks in the 19th tour match.
Run of play
Knight try, Fawcett convert.
Pypers try. Ras convert.
Ras penalty, 23 meters.
Williams penalty, 27 meters.
Ras penalty, 24 meters.
Ras penalty, 58 meters.
Williams try, Fawcett converts.
Morgan try, Fawcett converts.
About the match
This was an extremely talented SA junior Springboks side and the majority of them later did wear Springbok colors (10 of the 15 later becoming Springboks with Doc Louw, Cheeky Watson, Corrie Pypers, Noel van Rensburg and Wouter Hugo being the unlucky five who never played for SA).
Terry McLean wrote this about the Gazelle team:
The youngsters had many qualities. Confronted though they were by a powerful pack which, in the vent, determined the game, the Gazelles’ forwards were game and quick.
The locks, Hennie Bekker and Theuns Stofberg, were huge and ardent, Corrie Pypers on the flank chased and chased, and a boy who was thought to be a Springbok in the making Nick Mallett, certainly showed promise as a Number 8, thought there was a suspicion he had been praised too much.
Barry Wolmarans was dynamic quick and effective at scrumhalf, Cheeky Watson on the left pointed himself out as a fine player with an especially fine chase across the field to nail Terry Mitchell, and Louw at fullback might get to be a Springbok ahead of Mallett because not being the darling of the critics, he simply got on with the job.
Lastly, the Gazelles had de Wet Ras –no Tony Harris, no Keith Oxlee, no Hansie Brewis this lad but- boy can he kick. He landed a 64 meter penalty with ease and declared afterward it was not his longest by quite a stretch.
Cheeky Watson (Luke Watson's infamous dad) played for the junior Springboks against the 1976 All Blacks. He also played for EP against the kiwis and on the photo he is shown making an excellent try saving tackle in the EP match.
Theuns Stofberg was moved into the lock position (with Hennie Bekker) and he and Corrie Pypers had blinders playing like Frik du Preez and Piet Greyling of yester year. Pypers scored the Gazelles only try in the 33rd minute after storming through a lineout.
The Gazelles led 15-9 with 15 minutes to go and they were in front not necessarily because of superior play. There was nothing wrong with the kiwi’s lineout or their work at the rucks. The kiwis had the beating of the Gazelles; winning the linouts 15/12; the rucks 7/1; and the tightheads 1/0. The aspiring Springboks were found wanting in the last fifteen minutes of the match when the AB's shift gear and started running with the ball. The kiwis were behind because of two factors, one their goalkicking had hit rock bottom and two the kicking game plan they utilized or more specifically the poor execution of tactical kicking by Duncan Roberton on flyhalf that nulified the original game plan.
Max Baise, the referee, awarded a staggering 30 penalties in the match and had the AB’s landed all their kicks they would have won quite comfortably but they established themselves in this match, most conclusively, according to Terry McLean, as the worst goalkicking All Black team in living memory. This goalkicking failure as well as Laurie Mains’ goalkicking breakdown against Western Province culminated in the surprising selection of Duncan Robertson –normally a flyhalf- on fullback for the first test with Bryan Williams taking responsibility for the place kicking.
De Wet Ras kicked 11 points (3 penalties and 1 conversion) missing only one penalty of 47 m while Williams missed penalty attempts from 36, 42, 34, 31 and 36 m. Fawcett missed penalties from 27, 23, 36, 54 and 36 m.
The positive side of this goal kicking fiasco, from a spectator’s perspective, is that the match turned into quite an exciting spectacle with a number of rather crazy moments. The winning try in the 78th minute, in particular was one of those screwball moments with the All Black snatching a bizarre win after seemingly having resigned to the fact that they could do no more than rescue the match from the jaws of defeat with a draw.
The winning try was the result of the unpredictable bounce of the rugby ball and the never say die attitude of Joe Morgan. Terry McLean entitled his section on this match “Then along came Joe” in his book “Goodbye to Glory” and here is how he describes this try and Joe Morgan’s contribution:
GOD SAVE US, what was Duncan Robertson doing, trying for a dropkick at goal with the score tied, 15-15, and the minutes ticking inexorably towards fulltime? It was the end of the road, good-bye to glory, blind faith, inglorious stupidity and all the rest. And then – and then . . . Along came Joe. As the ball bounced in the in-goal area, having swerved well wide of the upright, “Doc” Louw reached for it this way. The ball went that way over his head. And then, along came Joe.
The most astonishing fact of the game was the New Zealand game plan. Totally out of character for the team Duncan Robertson on flyhalf hoisted kick after kick on Natal fullback Doc Louw. These kicks were so badly aimed that Louw had no problem catching them, lining himself-up and sending the ball right back from where it had come; in most instances even further back. Yet Robertson persisted. Not even the diligent endeavours of Lyn Davis to clear the ball rapidly enough for the three-quarters like Bill Osborne to have time and space produced a flicker of appreciation of the match-winning possibilities, or probabilities, of running the ball, according to McLean.
It seemed that the All Blacks took onto the field with a preconceived plan to tame the young Gazelles by the old might and power of 10-man rugby and they kept at it for 64 minutes. It was only when they had their backs against the wall –unable to land their penalty kicks and being 15-9 down with only 16 minutes left on the clock- that they started to run the ball. It was obvious at that stage that they will not win with penalties; they had to score tries. For 5 minutes they hammered away inside the Gazelles 22, twice getting desperately close to pushover tries. They declined close-range penalties in a bid to achieve a match-saving try.
It came nine minutes from time. From a scrum close to the posts Duncan Robertson moved right and tossed a high, lobbed pass to Bryan Williams whose class did the rest. He went round Cheeky Watson to score in the corner. Most people at the field would have bet their bottom dollar that Fawcett would miss the conversion but to everyone’s surprise he goaled it to make the score 15-15.
The Gazelles stormed back; Bekker and Stofberg leading the charge. Wolmarans went off on a dangerous run but the AB intercepted his pass and surged downfield and forced a lineout inside the Gazelles 22 m. It was from here that Robertson attempted his dropkick which eventuated in Morgan’s try.
Christo Wagenaar making a tackle on Bryan Williams with Cheeky Watson grinning in the background.
There was some more helter skelter stuff in the last 90 seconds –three successive interceptions seeing play sweep from one end to the other- before Max Baise blew the final whistle.
After the game reactions/occurrences
The big talk after the match was the announcement of the Springbok and All Black test sides with surprises in both teams. In the bokside the big news was the inclusion of Edrich Krantz in the place of Chris Pope on the wing.
The omission of the All Black number one fullback Laurie Mains and the discarding of Kit Fawcett the second string fullback for flyhalf Duncan Robertson was the big shock in the All Black team. The audacity of Stewart to go into a test without a recognized goal kicker –relying on the erratic boot of Bryan Williams- was the thing that shocked both the South African and New Zealand rugby public.
Dirk Froneman the Free State centre also destined to play for the Springboks, here on the left, chasing a ball while playing for the Gazelles against the 76 All Blacks. The All Black No10 running towards the ball is Duncan Robertson who was major news after the match for various reasons. One, his poor tactical kicking almost cost the All Blacks the match, two, he kicked the dropkick that led to Joe Morgan's winning try in the last minute of the game and, three, he got selected in the fullback position for the first test ahead of both the two touring fullbacks Laurie Mains and Kit Fawcett.