Ivan the terrible's revenge
From a New Zealand perspective, the fourth test of the 1970 tour will be remembered for an incident that occurred a week before the test in Potchefstroom.
Two Canterbury players Alex Wylie and Alister Hopkinson pulled a mischievous trick on coach Ivan Vodanovich in Potchefstroom a week before the game; a prank that determined to a large extend the outcome of the fourth test. The story goes that the two Canterbury players Wylie and Hopkinson were standing at the bottom of the hotel steps, having a chat, when the coach came down the stairs in a hurry. Wylie put his foot out and tripped a hasty Ivan who plunged through the swivel doors and landed face down in the hotel foyer. "Right, no Canterbury players in the test team" was the coaches’ words as he picked himself up from the ground.
Vodanovich known for his sharp and sometimes peculiar sense of humor was initially not taken seriously, but a considerable number of players and media men begun to wonder about this remark after announcement of the AB team for the fourth test -without any Canterbury players. "Good joke, Ron, now tell us the real team" was Gabriel David's comment to Ron Burk, the team manager, after the team was read off. On Burk's answer: “It is the team”, David responded with: "Then God help you". Burk was at this stage, not aware of the incident in Potchefstroom.
When the names were read out one senior reporter looked inquiringly at the official and asked in all seriousness: “Are you sure this is the team, it’s not a hoax is it?
McCormick no longer the New Zealand fullback! Dick named as one wing-three quarter while the brilliant attacking Milner is left languishing on the sideline! Blair Furlong at first five-eight! The forwards were predictable although one could question the dropping of Wylie for Lister. Piet Visagie has a great fear of Wylie. But the backline –surely one of the weakest ever to pull on test jerseys?
Blair Furlong and Gerald Kember both played in their first and last tests on respectively 10 and 15; Bryan Williams and Malcolm Dick was back on, respectively, left and right wing; Graeme Thorne again on outside centre; MacRae was on 12 and Muller and Murdoch, the two props who have played so well against NTVL, were in the front row. The player selection for this test resulted in a situation that 27 of the 30 players on tour were used in the fourth tests. Involuntarily it makes one remember the agonizingly and catastrophic selection frenzy of the South African selectors during the 1974 British and Irish Lions tour.
The All Black team for this test can be seen here.
It was an important test within the context of the tour and the New Zealand media was understandably disturbed about the team; comments of concern and outright criticism was frequent before the match and for years afterwards; reasons and motifs with team selections is specifically questioned. Primarily the sentiment is that the coach had an agenda and that he over reacted on the Potchefstroom incident.
As outsider I find the actions of Wylie and Hopkinson totally unacceptable. I know a few South African coaches and they would not have tolerated such behaviour; it reeks of disrespect. Any Springbok who would even attempt something like that would immediately get send home and would in all probability never again get within even remote distance from a Springbok team.
This incident and the way it was handled raise questions about clicks, respect and discipline in the AB team. The Potchefstroom incident clearly figured strongly in conversions within the team after the side for the fourth test was announced; more specifically it led to an uncomfortable atmosphere in the team. Two obvious groups began to form and there was much soft talking in the corridors and hotel rooms. On the way to Ellis Park, on test morning, a shocked and pregnant silence followed when Hopkinson -just after the team got put on the bus- remarked: "Stand up all Canterbury players in the test side."
Jan Pickard's comment when he saw the team was: "What a negative approach" and Danie Craven's words were: "This team will never beat the Springboks."
Coach Ivan Vodanovich who -if you read between the lines- was actually playing with Fred Allen's prodigies. Fred "the Needle" Allan was the previous AB coach and this team won 17 tests on the trod over 5 years under his tutelage. Allan, however, retired before the 1970 tour and was replaced with Vodanovich whose team selection in the fourth test elicited several questions.
Syd Going and Laidlaw injuries
Going was in a race against time to recover from a knee injury and it influenced the AB preparations to such an extent that McCormick had to stand in at scrumhalf. Laidlaw was still in the hospital as a result of appendix surgery.
Fergie McCormick practicing at scrumhalf during the team's preperation for the 4th test.
Louis Luyt Lorenzo Marques jet trips
Since the match against Transvaal, Louis Luyt treated players with trips to -in his private jet- to Laurenzo Marques for a "good time". These trips have increased in frequency as the tour's approached its final days. There were also reports-in the media of women in the All Blacks hotel rooms; the All Blacks were apparently enraged and dismayed about this and David thinks it has motivated them for the fourth test. Where there is smoke there is usually a fire is an old South African truism and the facts on the table was that a multiplicity of evidence were emerging that focus, dedication and discipline was a problem in the AB camp at the end of a long tour.
Packing and Pillaging
The tour was over, and players began packing gifts, memorabilia, ornaments and other unique South African collectibles bought on tour that they have stored in crates; packed to be shipped to New Zealand. In this environment, there were several incidents where crates were looted and items were stolen, which was obviously something that has disturbed players and which have drawn their attention away from the upcoming test.
Graeme Thorne goes back to centre but he’s in no mood to be elated. He had dispatched a large crate filled with souvenirs and many household items designed to decorate his new home when he marries his airline hostess in November. Total cost of the contents was $200. His fiancée goes along to pick up the crate, opens it and finds a torn, used test ticket –nothing else. Someone had done an excellent job of pillaging.
The New Zealand test side is not getting into any tense mood about the fourth international. It is too busy packing and organizing insurance of baggage. The boat carrying the crates will be heavy laden. Never has so much been sent home by a touring side.
Other disturbing events
There were several incidents in the run up to the Test. New Zealand supporters -1500 in the total- complained about the way they were treated by the Transvaal Rugby Union specifically with regard to problems to get tickets.
The Springboks again ignored and broke the international rule of not assembling 48 hours before a test match; New Zealand as before -for the sake of good relations- decided not to process an official complaint. It did not prevent the kiwi media to whinge and complain about it and to reinforce the Kiwi image of South Africans as people who would use illegal tactics in order to win.
Sport journalists of the Transvaler newspaper were refused access to Ellis Park for the test after Jannie le Roux had a squabble with a female reporter working for the Transvaler. These incidents also contributed to reinforce the existing image that New Zealanders have of South Africans as bombastic, belligerent people without finesse.
South Africa 20 / New Zealand 17
Comments on New Zealand's game
New Zealand was the better team today in this crucial international that meant so much in terms of rugby prestige and tour evaluation, but deserved to be beaten because once again there were basic mistakes and a nondescript backline played exactly like a nondescript backline.
Going and Furlong had nightmare matches and was clueless and tentative on 9 and 10; the result was that the AB never really dictated: they lacked direction in the decision making positions with a pack clearly in control for a substantial amount of time. The halfback and first five eight’s inability to stamp their authority and direct play also hampered the playmakers on their outside.
Thorne was in brilliant mood and made the famous Joggie Jansen look like just another provincial player making his test debut. Williams scored a dazzling try in which he offered the supreme insult to the opposition by weaving, side-stepping and accelerating past players behind their own goal line. But these two fine players were severely handicapped by the restricted skills of the inside backs.
The two new props -Muller and Murdoch- were not the world breakers the kiwi's thought they were. Their struggling and inability to keep-up the pace as a result of being slowly weighed down by the opposition influenced Urlich play on hooker and contributed to the New Zealand pack totally running out of puff late in the second half. David writes:
...it was astonishing, even humiliating and quite an embarrassment to watch a strong New Zealand pack, rampant for a good part of the game suddenly slow down to a walk when only four points were needed for the victory and 10 minutes remained to achieve it. That was when the test was really lost.
Comments on the Springboks
The Springboks played probably the worst match of the series but they deserved to win because they were allowed it. It was a match in which the Windhoek flanker Jan Ellis got away with murder. He was so often off-side he should have been wearing the sliver fern jersey. The referee Mr. Bert Woolley caught up with him at times but it was so infrequent it was shameful.
Chris Greyvenstein is of the opinion that the two players who dominated this test were the place kickers McCallum and Kember; together they scored 28 of the 37 points. McCallum slotted an enormous kick of 65 meters; a kick that he himself said he would not attempt under normal circumstances. Dawie de Villiers, according to McCallum, instructed him to kick for goal so that the forwards could get a breather without any expectation that McCallum will be successful. Write Chris Greyvenstein:
McCallum’s place kicking in the series was so good that the All Black’s coach Ivan Vodanovich praised him later as the kicker with the best technique he had ever seen, a view I share even now that we are in the era of round-the-corner kickers.
Ian McCallum who, according to the New Zealand coach was the place kicker with the best technique he had seen. McCallum basically won the fourth test for the Springboks with his place kicking and had overall a decisive influence on the outcome of this test series. McCallum played in 11 tests for the Springboks (1970-1974).
Terry McLean has the following on Ian McCallums’ place kicking:
Twenty-four points from penalties in one match! It was the penalties that turned the tide –penalties and the loss by Lochore of the toss. De Villiers was correct in breaking the old South African habit of playing into the wind for the first half.
By half, McCallum with three penalties had put South Africa into the lead by 14 points to three –surely an unshakable and uncrackable lead in a test.
The first, from 55 yards and given against Going, was a fine kick. So was the second, for a crooked put in at the scrum, from 45 yards.
The third, three minutes from half-time and given for some offense or other at a ruck, was from 60 yards. It was bearing left, wide of the uprights, and then the strong wind caught it and deflected it between the posts and it was an effort of unearthly, supernatural skill.
Piet Visagie's clever break and outstanding try is also mentioned by Greyvenstein as well as Gert Muller's try and Mannetjies Roux and Joggie Jansen's role in it.
Piet Visagie slotted a brilliant drop goal with the left foot in the first test. His tactical kicking was outstanding throughout the whole series and he scored an excellent try in the fourth test with a sharp break. It was also his clever scissors move with Jansen in the second test which resulted in a try that put South Africa right back in the match in that test. He played in 25 tests for the Springboks (1967-1971). His last test was in 1971 against Australia. The Springboks lost 4 out of 25 tests with Visagie in the No10 jumper. From him Frik du Preez said: No flyhalf let you as forward feel as safe as Piet Visagie, because with him in the No10 position you know the pack will go forward. "
Terry McLean in his book "Battling the boks" throws in this paragraph on the Piet Visagie try:
In his only moment of running enterprise in the four test matches –one moment in 320 minutes- Visagie shifted his feet as he approached Furlong and Furlong, slow of reaction, was thrown out of tackling position. Visagie sped on the angle for the goal-line and sped was the word. MacRae, Thorne and Williams, who were all on the angle with him; Kember, who was to have him covered, and Lochore cover-defending, were all involved.
There was some hindrance to Visagie and Lochore seemed to be the one who finally grasped him. He brought him down and held him down, with the ball on the ground. It was a tackle, quite decisively, and never more clearly was this established than in the mind of Lochore, the most trustworthy of witnesses.
Yet Visagie, on the bounce, sprang to his feet and dived across the gaol-line, and Woolley signalled a try. This was calamitous because, in effect, it cost the test match.
McLean states further that the Springboks lineout play was outstanding throughout the series and that it played a pivotal role in the eventual outcome of the series. One of the innovative things that the Springboks did, and which worked well was to move Frik du Preez to 5 in the lineout.
Frik in the fourth test deflecting a ball at 5 in the lineout.
Blunders that cost New Zealand the test
David refers to several blunders, in addition to team composition and poor play by the halfbacks (Going and Furlong) which in his opinion was instrumental in New Zealand losing this test.
Blunder one was poor / skew throw-in work at the scrum by Going which lead to several penalties one converted by McCallum into points.
Blunder two was poor defending by the backs and especially Furlong and the flankers which allowed Visagie to score.
Blunder three was the AB forwards who run out of puff and started walking with 10 minutes of play left on the clock.
Blunder four was Kember dropping the ball forward when he came into the backline and was tackled by Jansen. The ball spilled forward and hopped into the hands of Mannetjies Roux who ran onto the ball at speed who then fed Gert Muller to score the Springboks second try at a critical stage in the game. Says McLean:
It was not bad play that lost this match. It was careless play. It was a test that should never have been lost.
Run of the test
The Springboks won the toss and started the first half with the wind from behind. In the seventh minute, Visagie sped past Furlong and angled his way through weak cross defence to score just right of the uprights. McCallum converted and slotted a penalty three minutes later for the Springboks to 8-0.
Kember was successful in the 21st minute with a penalty against the wind to put NZ on the score board. Shortly hereafter McCallum slotted a 65 yard monster and two minutes before half time he added another one for the Springboks to lead 14-3 lead at half time.
Two minutes after half time Kember kicked his second penalty; McCallum answered with one three minutes later the score now 17-6.
In the twelfth minute of the second half Williams scored a brilliant try that Kember converted to bring the score on 17-11.
Bryan Williams on his way to his try in the fourth test. Here he is already in the Springboks ingoal area sidestepping his way past Muller and Jansen too score behind the uprights.
Four minutes later Kember added another penalty and suddenly it seems that New Zealand could win. Lochore indicated that he sensed at this stage that the Springbok forwards were tiring but so was the All Blacks as they were unable to keep the momentum up.
With 13 minutes left on the clock the ball spilled loose from the hands of Kember when he was upended by a shuddering Joggie Jansen tackle. Mannetjies Roux ran into the ball at speed passed to Gert Muller who angled inward moving to the inside of Roux and wrong footing one defender coming in on cross defence in the process; he then swerved to the outside going wide again to ran around another defender to score in the corner. Kember kicked one more penalty shortly before the end to bring the final score on 20-17.
Mannetjies Roux on the first photo with Gert Muller next to him. As can be seen on the first photo Muller started angling inward even before receiving the ball to evade the player on the first picture coming in on cross defence. He then went wide again to run around Furlong and Dick for his third try in the series.
End of the road for several players
Apart from Kember and Furlong -for who this was their only test matches- it was also the end of the road for several All Blacks and Springboks.
Malcolm Dick played in his fifteenth and final test; Graeme Thorne returned to SA and played for awhile for Tukkies and Northern Transvaal but never played test rugby again; Ian MacRae also hanged-up his rugby toks after 17 test appearances.
Ron Urlich the hooker who played two tests was selected for AB team of 1972/73 touring to the UK but didn't play in a test. Destined to play one last international game Brain Lochore represented the AB for the last time as captain.
On Springbok side, it was the end of the road for Lofty Nel (1960-1970 - 11 tests) Mof Myburg (1962-1970 - 18 tests) Johan Spies (Only four tests) and Mannetjies Roux (1960-1970 - 27 tests). Dawie de Villiers announced his retirement after 22 tests as Springbok captain. It was De Villiers's second series as captain against the All Blacks; he was also captain of the 1965 Springbok team touring to New Zealand.
Dawie De Villiers carried shoulder high off the field. De Villiers, according to Chris Greyvenstein had time for one little jump of joy -after the final whistle- before being lifted by his teammates and carried shoulder high off the field of play. He represented South Africa in 25 tests (1962-1970), only three of them not as captain.