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18 Sept 65 - Fourth Test; Eden Park, Auckland

In view of the scoring sprees on which the Springboks had embarked over the previous two weeks –after the win in the third test- a number of critics thought they were certain to tie the series, especially as the last test looked likely to be played in conditions that would favor the Springboks. The feeling was shared by the Springboks who approached the game with a great deal of confidence. 

The Springboks retained their winning combination of the third test.

The Springbok team who played in this test was: Wilson; Engelbrecht; Roux; Gainsford; Brynard; Barnard; de Villiers (Captain); Hopwood; Ellis; du Preez; Naude; Nel; van Zyl; Walton; Macdonald.

The home team, however, did made some changes to their team. Injuries to Williment and Dick made them unavailable, their replacements being Fergie McCormick and Ian Smith who had been dropped for Dick after the second test. The two centers, Moreton and Murdoch, were dropped, with the two Maori players John Collins and Mac Herewini taking their places. The All Black pack was unchanged. 

New Zealand leadership discussing strategy, in the fourth test.

The All Black team can be seen here.

Played in brilliant sunshine on a firm ground, the test attracted a crowd of 56 480.

New Zealand 20; South Africa 3

About this test Terry McLean writes:

A legend was shattered at Eden Park today – a legend of invincibility. Farewell the tranquil mind, South Africa, farewell content. The pride the pomp and circumstance of glorious war belong to New Zealand. The circus of Kobus Louw is in disarray, its poles shattered, the canvas torn and stretched. The All Blacks have won the final test, 20 points to 3, five tries to none, 17 points in the second half, 12 points scored within the space of 11 minutes. It is a beating, a defeat, beyond the experience of any South African team in history. It is subjection. Worse, it is a disgrace.

Having watched the highlights of this game on a purchased DVD my feeling is that McLean is way out of line with the above statement. The difference between the two teams was not that large at all. In fact New Zealand scored almost all their tries capitalizing on mistakes made by South Africa trying to run with the ball.

The Springbok game plan was to run at the All Blacks; to spread them wide; to use the dangerous South African backs; to exploit the dubious defense in the backline as they did in the third test. The Springboks did all the play; running the ball from every possible position on the field while New Zealand showed very little creativity at all. When there was 29 minutes left of play on the clock the score was still 3-3 but some risky play and consequently handling mistakes as well as poor defense cost South Africa the match.

Conway forced his way over the tryline after 7 minutes of play sort of against the run of play. It was all South Africa in the first half and the score was still 3 all with 29 minutes left on the clock.

The main perpetrator for South Africa on the day was Barnard. Three Barnard mistakes resulting in three tries; nine points against the Springboks within nine minutes and that was the end of it for South Africa and for Barnard in terms of his international career.

First, a pass from the de Villiers to Barnard was mishandled by Barnard. Birtwistle grabbed the ball and sprinted off down the touchline in the direction of Wilson with Barnard chasing after the flying All Black wing. Between them they should have tackled Birtwistle. Neither made a strong tackle and with a clever turn and twist, Birtwistle stepped inside Wilson and dived for the line for a try. 

Britwistle stepping inside Wilson with the try line looming in the background. 

Britwistle going over for his try.

Six minutes later de Villiers initiated a tapkick at a penalty in the Springboks 25. The ball went to Barnard who accelerated but angling sideways and hanging on to the ball to long allowed Rangi to cancelled out Roux. Indecisive but halfway though his pass Barnard threw the ball to nobody in paricular behind Roux. The ball went to ground and Smith snapped it up and sprinted 20 yards for a try in the corner. 

Jannie Barnard just before throwing a loose pass behind Roux that lead to Smith’s first try.

Three minutes later a kick by Barnard was charged down by Lochore who, gathering the ball, sent it to Rangi who was missed tackled by de Villiers before passing to Smith who raced away for his second try. 

Dawie de Villiers in process of being shrugged off by Rangi before he send Smith away for his second try. It is hard to believe that de Villiers -the Captain of the side who should lead with example- actually missed this tackle. 

Ian Smith scoring one of his two tries within a timespan of three minutes. Both tries the result of SOuth Africa trying to run with the ball in their own 25 yard area.

Shortly, hereafter Herwini snapped a dropgoal and then right on time a defensive slip by Barnard allowed Gray to made a break on the blindside of a scrum to run through for the All Blacks 5th try. 

Gray scoring the 5th New Zealand try right on full time.

Poor Jannie Barnard –one of the hero’s of the third test- had a shocker. His poor decision making like running from his own goal line and passing to no-one in particular as well his -and de Villiers'- shocking defense was primarily where it went wrong for South Africa. De Villiers miss tackle or should I rather say half hearted attempt to tackle Rangi in the last 5 minutes of the match probably summarize the South African attitude on the whole tour; lack of real belief and desire to win.

So in a sense McLean is correct. It was a disgrace but not because South Africa didn’t have the ability or the players, it was a management, coaching and lack of application, disgrace.

Which make it even worse!

McLean continues:

The conditions of the match extended rather than diminished the quality of the disgrace. The playing surface was firm and fast. The sun shone brightly and warmly. The wind from the west, blowing down the field, was a wisp, though a little stronger than it seemed. These were South African conditions, the kind the Springboks were reared on from boyhood, the kind they had been praying for since the start of the tour.

Twice, trice, in the first half, the Springbok backs boomed down the field. The pace of the rushes was swift, the support of the runner with the ball was exact, the nature of the movement exhilarating. Correspondingly, the tackling of the All Blacks was fragile, puny. Nothing could possibly prevent the tries. Something did. Smith harassed Engelbrecht before he had received the ball, put him of balance and, when he had caught the ball, was able to check him. Engelbrecht another time knocked on a simple pass when a catch would have meant a try. At least one other move of the highest promise floundered. These moves by the Springboks, especially by their backs, were dazzling. It was embarrassing that New Zealand’s counters were so obvious, so inferior in speed and power. 

Jannie Barnard made a brilliant break in the first half at a time when the boks looked ominous but the New Zealand defense held. 

Here is Gertjie Brynard at his elusive best. Brynard tried his heart out and had some good runs including this one. Unfortunately he slipped in process of side stepping the last defender and the move came to nothing.

McLean ends this discussion with a quote from Phillip Nel, the captain of the victorious 1937 Sprinbok team. Nel said in 1937: “Test matches are not won by guile, or strength, or speed. They are won on mistakes.”

This is exactly what happened with the 1965 Springboks in the fourth test.

They lost the test and the series because of lack of leadership (on and off the field) which culminated in a naïve game plan; a game plan where they put themselves under pressure by trying to run the ball from impossible positions. This resulted in handling mistakes which was exploited by New Zealand.

The potential was there both in talent and leadership but the powers in charge decided to appoint a youngster in the person of Dawie de Villiers as captain and another scrumhalf as vice captain and ignored the likes of Abe Malan (a previous Springbok captain) and Doug Hopwood (another senior player) that is of course apart from the fact that a number of experienced players were left at home. This in essence, in my mind, was the major problem with the 1965 Springbok team. One springbok supporter captured it well when he said after the match: “Craven can keep his puppies”.

The coach, Hennie Muller, was marginalized by these well spoken puppies and the manager Kobus Louw was more concerned with keeping the puppies happy than with making hard decisions. The team committee was in charge and the broth was spoiled by too many puppy cooks culminating in lack of application -a constant source of amazement for the New Zealand journalists -during training sessions, poor structure on the field and lack of self-belief.

In the end we lost because of lack of leadership; not taking our changes; lack of experience in key positions and a naive game plan.

Yes, New Zealand was better in this series mostly because of the reasons mentioned above. The margin between winning and losing is pretty small at the highest level –in the 100 meters at the Olympic Games the difference between 1st and 10th is sometimes less than 1 second. So, if you don’t have your off-the-field and on-the-field structures in place you will not succeed when you compete against the best in the world; it is the attention to detail that produce the small marginal edges necessary for victory at the highest level. 

All Black captain Wilson Whineray passing to Colin Meads in the fourth test.

As the 56 480-strong Eden Park crowd sang “Now is the Hour” to send off the popular tourist, whose visit had excited none of the unhealthy intensity of 1956, there was an air of uncertainty with regard to the future. The planned tour of 1967 was in jeopardy after the Dr. Verwoerd announcements that Maori would once again not be welcome in South Africa.

Today we know that the 1967 tour did indeed not take place but there was a tour in 1970 after much hustle and bustle, another in 1976 both under very difficult circumstances which strained the relations between the countries to the limit before the 1981 tour which almost caused a rebellion in New Zealand.

From a New Zealand perspective the defining moment of this tour was probably the three tries within 9 minutes in this fourth test. From a South Africa perspective the tour had two defining moments; both of these moments had a direct and causal impact on the team and how they applied themselves, from what I could gather in at least three sources. The first was the appointment of de Villiers and Nelie Smith as captain and vice-captain, respectively. The second defining moment was the shattering impact of Dr. Verwoerd’s ill-timed Loskop Dam speech. It turned the New Zealand public against the tourists and consequently had an pernicious effect on team spirit going into the fourth test. 

All Black captain Wilson Whineray being chaired of the field after the fourth test of the 1965 series. This marked the end of his career.