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Tour matches up to first test

The afternoon of the same morning they arrived from South Africa the Springboks played in their first game against a combined team of Western Australia in PERTH.

Charles Blunt the President of Australian rugby formally welcomed every Springbok with a handshake before the first match (see Picture below). 

This picture shows Charles Blunt president of Australia rugby being introduced to the players by Hannes Marais before the first match. Here he shakes hands with Dirk de Vos.  

Tommy Bedford in action in the first match in Perth.

Not much information are available on this first match apart from the fact that the Springboks won by 44-18 and that Hannes Viljoen (scoring five tries), Morné du Plessis and Dawie Snyman played well.

Pressure on the Airline resulted in cancelation of flight bookings from Perth to ADELAIDE. Consequently, the team had to travel the 2320 km from Perth to Adelaide in 7 small aeroplanes’. This extended a normal 2 hour journey to 7 hours.

In Adelaide the prime minister of South Australia announced that his government did not support the tour and no real attempt was made by the South Australian authorities to stem the activities of the protestors.

The rugby authorities as a consequence had to go to extreme lengths to keep travel arrangement and hotel accommodations secret which saw the protestors going crazy; reacting on every rumour by charging to the supposed airport, hotel, restaurant and so forth in multitude.

Somehow the anti-tour activists always found their way to the Springboks; they whistled, megaphoned, blast crackers, and yelled trenchantly around-the-clock. Sleep deprived springboks had to stay in motels and play rugby on extreme skimpy meals (see picture below). 

Jan Ellis covering his ears in an attempt to block out the noise at the Mayfair hotel in Adelaide. In the second picture Hannes Viljoen has a sausage and two eggs for breakfast. Not the type of breakfast young healthy rugby players would fancy before playing for his country.

The game against South Australia was played at night which made running rugby pretty difficult as night rugby was not a common feature in the 1970’s and the lighting not as good as today. Too make matters worse the match was interrupted on a number of occasions by either smoke bombs or protestors running on the field. Local rugby people took no nonsense and local rugby players wearing white jackets helped clearing the field from pitch invaders and tackled some of the protestors into the hospital.

In spite of all these distractions, poor diet, and lack of sleep the ‘bokkies’ stayed focussed and smashed South Australia by 43-0. The try scorers were Hannes Viljoen, Gert Muller (2), Joggie Jansen, Piet Cronje and Thys Lourens. Piet Visagie succeeded with five conversions and five penalties.

Where the first games played in Adelaide and Perth was disrupted mainly by youth-led protesters the third match in MELBOURNE saw a well-organized attempt to end the tour. A 5,000 strong crowd, made up mostly of university students, gathered in the streets of Melbourne to march on Olympic Park. The demonstrators’ plan was to invade the field in mass and stop the match (makes one wonder why this ‘old’ strategy was actually successful in 1981 in Hamilton New Zealand).

The protestor’s plans were however greatly negated through some innovative measures by the police and rugby authorities. The players stayed with private individuals and the police used road blocks to ‘check vehicle safety’ to delay the protestors. Body searches were also performed on suspect individuals at the stadium. This way the police were able to prevent some of the typical throwing objects like smoke bombs, nails, and rocks as well as noise making tools like firecrackers, megaphones and whistles from entering the stadium. They were also able to identify and disallow some portions of the protestors from actually entering the arena.

In addition the police set up a wall of units around the stadium, using 650 policemen many armed with truncheons and some on horseback. In spite of these arrangements the match was interrupted on numerous occasions by people running onto the field and numerous smoke bombs and firecrackers went off and the there was a constant barrage of whistle blowing throughout the entire match. One constable lost his eye when a firecracker exploded in his face and some of the horses received knife cuts.  

Sun-Herald front page of the match in Melbourne.

It was in this match that one of the anti-tour fanatics attacked John Williams on the field. It was also in this match that some of the home team players tackled the protestors running on the field (see picture below). 

Gary Frost one of the Victoria players tackling one of the pitch invaders.

The Springboks selected test players to play against the Victoria team which fielded 7 New Zealanders, 5 Australians, 2 Englishmen and 1 South African – Pieter Lategan who was an ex-Matie (Stellenbosch university rugby player).

South Africa won the match 50-0 and the try scorers were Gert Muller (4), Jan Ellis (2), Syd Nomis (2), Joggie Viljoen (2), Dawie Snyman and Joggie Jansen. Joggie Jansen also converted seven of the 12 tries (I am not sure whether this information is actually correct because one would think that with Dawie Snyman on the field he would have handled the kicking).

The next two matches were played in SYDNEY. The first match against a team called SYDNEY was a tough encounter during which the Springboks trying as hard as they can could not cross the try line. They won the match 21-12 courtesy to a Piet Visagie dropgoal and Ian McCallum’s (6 penalties) accurate place kicking. Arthur McGill the Australian fullback succeeded with 3 penalties but missed with 4 easy kicks which could have won them the match. The only try of the match was scored by the Sydney team’s captain Peter Johnston.

It was in this match that Bedford fractured his cheek bone and Gert Muller broke his nose (See pictures below). 

The first picture above shows Hannes Marais inspecting Tommy Bedford cheekbone and the second picture Gert Muller with a broken nose on his way home.

Some other events overshadowed the rugby. The match was played at the Sydney cricket ground (SCG) because it was considered a less dangerous (or better defendable) venue. It was big news that the rugby league President Bill Buckley conceding the SCG to Union for the occasion (see newspaper clipping below). 

Newspaper headlines of The Sun published on the Friday 9th of July 1971.

As can be seen in the newspaper clipping above the other big news was the fact that several people attempted to saw down the goal posts at the SCG prior to the match. In addition, a gigantic anti-apartheid effigy was hung from the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Sydney inhabitants were shocked by the events at the SCG on July 6, 1971. The Sydney Herald wrote: “Sport which has to be conducted behind barbed wire is, in this country, an ugly absurdity – and we can do without it. The sooner this dreary tour is over, the better. We have problems enough without this kind of unnecessary controversy.”

According to Meredith Burghmann one of the leading firebrands, the rugby tour was a crucial target, but to stop the summer's cricketing visit was the ultimate goal. They were successful in this regard as the cricket tour was called off due to security reasons. Burghmann later to become a member of parliament was arrested 21 times in her life for protesting and spend some time in jail after the she got arrested for running on the SCG during one of the two matches played at the SCG during the 1971 tour. 

Picture showing a smoke bomb exploding at the SCG while the Springboks scored one of their tries against New South Wales.

The protesting gained in intensity for the next match against NEW SOUTH WALES at the Sydney Cricket Ground 3 days later. The demonstrations were by far the most intense so far on tour and this quote can be found in the Sydney Herald article entitled ‘Deadly weapons used at Springbok match’ regarding the demonstrations during this match: “In the blackest day in Australian sport, police charged 110 people after anti-apartheid demonstrations at the Sydney Cricket Ground. They crushed desperate attempts by the demonstrators to invade the ground and wreck the NSW Rugby Union match. They confiscated a Molotov cocktail, smoke bombs and other riot weapons”. 

Picture showing the Springboks looking down from the hotel balcony (the Squire Inn) at the demonstrators.

Almost at arrival in Sydney the Springbok team was told: You’ll win the test matches but you won’t beat New South Wales. This conviction stemmed from the fact that NSW won both the 1937 and 1965 Springboks and were fielding 10 international players. The Springboks however not deterred in the slightest by the anti-apartheid demonstrations totally annihilated NSW 25-3 with forwards and backs combining to score 5 tries by Viljoen (3), Ellis and Morné du Plessis.

The Springboks forwards dominated right from the start with Frik du Preez and John Williams dominating the lineouts and Jan Ellis, Piet Greyling and Morné du Plessis unstoppable in the loose. 

Pictures showing Jan Ellis and Morné du Plessis in action during the NSW match.

Hannes Viljoen scored the first try in the eighth minute with a 25 yards run. Four minutes later they ran the NSW defense ragged with Jan Ellis scoring and abrasive try in the corner.  

Hannes Viljoen scoring one of his three tries against NSW.

The tries by Ellis and Morné du Plessis was something special. The next sequence of pictures shows Jan Ellis scoring his try. Ellis got the ball after 6 or so Springboks handled the ball; when confronted by a defender he shifted the ball to Piston van Wyk; Van Wyk send the ball back to Ellis a moment later and Ellis then proceed to smash through the defense of wing Rod Botterham and fullback Arthur McGill to score his try.  

Sequence of pictures showing Jan Ellis scoring against NSW.

The highlight of the match was the try by Morné du Plessis which was later described by president of Australian rugby, Charles Blunt, as the best he has seen in his life. The try started when McCallum received a ball in the Springboks 25 yard area. Instead of kicking he set off across to the left side of the field before passing the ball to Hannes Viljoen straightening up. Viljoen passes to Hannes Marais on his right but angling to his left side as he ran past him. Marais then set-off running like a wing next to the left hand touchline angling infield again before shifting the ball with another in pass to Piet Greyling on his right but angling to his left. Greyling then threw a long pass to Morné du Plessis who caught the ball with out-stretched hands running flat-out against the left hand touchline before scoring in the left corner.

One morning newspaper wrote afterwards: “Superb, magnificent, the greatest – are just three of the many superlatives you could tag on the Springboks after their annihilation of the NSW before a crowd of 27402 at the SCG yesterday. They were too fast for New South Wales.”  

Joggie Viljoen in action against New South Wales.

ORANGE a small rural town with no demonstrators was the next destination. 

Bottom picture shows Hannes Marais ‘helping’ a little with the cattle of Mr G Blunt where he stayed during the Springboks visit to Orange. Top picture illustrate the light airplanes that flew the Springboks to Orange 160 km inland from Sydney.

The farmers showed-up with their trucks and Piet Greyling (who captained the team) and the rest of the team found themselves in a toughest match so far on tour. 

The defense was hard and merciless and the tempers ran short. The Springboks were tackled to a standstill and it took them 20 minutes in the first half and 21 minutes in the second half before they scored the first and second tries respectively.

Tries were scored by Ian McCallum, John Williams and Hannes Vijoen while Dawie Snyman succeeded with a drop goal and Ian McCallum with a penalty. Brain Weir scored for Orange. The final score was 19-3.  

Bottom picture shows the South African commentators sitting next to the field at Orange and the top picture the two coaches. 

Bottom picture shows Theo Sauermann blocking a punch with his right cheek and top picture John Williams jumping high in the line-out that was won by the Orange team. 

Action pictures of Thys Lourens, Dawie Snyman and Hannes Viljoen against Orange.