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From Upington to Windhoek

The All Blacks were not at all reluctant to take leave from Kimberley, which they found quite boring. Even a visit to the big hole -which did not impress them much-, could do little to leave them with a good impression or with any positive regard towards Kimberley. 

Big Hole in Kimberley

From Kimberley the All Blacks travelled to Upington for their next game against North West Cape. Except for the coloured females in Upington they found the place just as dull if not more boring than Kimberley. Here is what Gabriel David writes about Upington:

We had our first glimpse of the attractive coloured girls in Kimberley but the waitresses at the team hotel here in Upington would leave them all for ugly.

He also writes about a hunting expedition that some members of the team made into the Kalahari during which they shot 19 springbok and two Gemsbok. He concludes his piece on Upington with the following observation:

It is doubtful if the All Blacks felt sad at leaving Upington and shaking the red dirt of this small town from their shoes. It had been a dull stay, enlivened only by the hunting trip and not everyone could get a piece of that excitement. 

Street photo of Upington

All Blacks 26 / North West Cape 3

About the match David writes:

It is not uncommon for a rugby side to play at least one "stinker" of a game while touring and the All Blacks can mutter a small prayer that their "stinker" was against such a weak side.

The ground was filled to capacity with about 1,500 non-whites crammed into the small section provided at the northern end.

They were a noisy lot, all on the side of the All Blacks and when scoring movements did they erupt they got so excited that they burst through the wire mesh fence.

The All Black pack played like eight individuals and the team made hard work against a charged-up North West Cape team. Sid Going had butter fingers; where uncertain; tentative; under constant pressure and generally lethargic behind a forward pack that did not play as a unit.

Sid Going against North West Cape. The North West Cape player is no 9, Ravenscroft

The All Blacks was impressed with the size of the North West Cape forwards and surprised by the vim and vigour of their play. McLean writes:

The All Blacks had been told North West Cape were the worst team this side of the Black Stump and when they discovered that, instead Prinsloo at prop and Engelbrecht and Young at lock were huge men of about 17 stone, that van Eden on the flank and Mostert at the back were useful flank forwards, a certain amount of disagreeable humour with the tale-tellers became evident.

Everyone in the North West Cape team had a go at knocking the All Blacks down and Longland, de Waal and van Tonder in the midfield incessantly plundered the attacking forces.

Bokkie Basson, a lovely handler, made a great impression as a polished fullback and an even stronger impression by retailing that he customarily travelled at least 10,000 miles a year to play rugby. Ravenscroft at scrumhalf was good and Conradie on the wing had the drop on Thorne for pace. If this were indeed the worst team in South Africa, then God help New Zealand.

The superior talent and class of the AB team showed through and the constant pressure they applied with phase after phase of probing paid off and eventuated in 8 tries for the visitors. North West Cape’s only points came from a penalty. 

Wayne Cottrell on the run against Nort-West Cape in Upington.

Thorne scored 3 tries while Meads, Dick, Lister, Davis and McLeod also dotted down behind the goal line for The AB.

All Blacks 16 / South West Africa 0

Out of Upington into Windhoek, the capital of South West Africa, was like emerging from the desert into an oasis. This city with its historic background and German background and controversial present is a fascinating place, 5.428 feet above sea level and populated by 30, 000 whites and 25.000 non-whites. Its architecture, culture and people are Teutonic to the hilt and the climate is superb. The boys fell in love with the place immediately.

Terry McLean absolutely raved in his book “Battling the Boks” about Windhoek as these paragraphs indicates:

...the special quality of the city stems from its remoteness, from the feeling it communicated in you that it were not quite of the known world, that famine, war and pestilence occurring elsewhere were not really important.

Windhoek is wonderful in many other ways. It lies more than a mile high, its barren hills and plains surround the city like the rim of a saucer. Its streets are wide and handsome, its buildings are modern and skilfully designed, its gardens of poinsettia and bougainvillea bloom brilliantly against the harsh beige light cast by the desert country round about, the terrace of the Continental Hotel a haven of sunlight where a man may peacefully dream out his days and its girls are tall, stately and very beautiful.

Windhoek from the air 

Windhoek business area. 

More images from Windhoek 

Some of the AB's went on another a hunting tip and returned with two 6 springbok and two kudu. However, in the photo below it seems that at least one of the animals shot was a hartebees. 

Hunting pictures of the AB.

About the match David writes:

Oh, how the prophets of doom clacked ominously away at their typewriters after this match. In just one week and two matches we have plummeted from the greatest side ever to visit South Africa to a mediocre team that will be annihilated by the Springboks.

The South African writers telegraphed the joyous news all over the republic. I fear that a good many of our South African colleagues misinterpreted this match. They did not read it accurately, mainly because the need to reassure themselves and South African rugby public that the All Blacks are beatable.

There is no side that is not. But the fact remain that the All Blacks won with some authority and the All Black line has yet to be crossed.

David laments again about the fact that the AB's had 90% of ball and that they did all the play. This was apparently a topic of conversation – even maybe a subtle or disguised attempt of bragging; suggesting that they are actually the nation with the superior rugby ability - in the NZ camp. Ron Burk noted afterwards – tongue in cheek and with quite some cynicism - at the press conference that the AB's are getting depressed because they are the only team who are playing attacking rugby.

Below is some action pictures of the match against SWA.

Ian Kirkpatrick outplayed the renowned Jan Ellis according to Gabriel David most probably, as David indicate in his narrative, because Ellis had to play a tighter and more defensive game in a pack that was overshadowed by the All Black forwards.

There was some rough play with the Southwesters attempting to intimidate the All Blacks and Thorne as well as Laidlaw was roughed-up by Schrader (SWA no 8) but the AB maintained good discipline and scored 3 tries by Hunter, Strahan and McCormick to win with 16-0. SWA could not score any points. 

Jan Ellis chaired off the field. Ellis had to play tight in a losing pack but had a few good runs including scoring a try after the whistle went and according to the SA media he was better than Kirkpatrick while the NZ media state the opposite.

The heat and altitude undoubtedly had an effect on the visitors performance in this match (and probably also in the Upington game). David made the following remarks:

The ground was firm, the heat oppressive and the crowd enormous for the accommodation - a record 12.000. The second half was notable for the injuries received by the All Blacks. Every few minutes someone would be on the ground and called the medical team called on the field. It was significant that the players all rushed the water bottles whenever injuries occurred.

I can believe that the AB's were struggling in the heat. I remember as a child a game we played in Thabazimbi, and how the heat took us totally out of the game. Kiwi's are not accustomed to heat, and keeping in mind also the altitude at which this game was played, it is actually quite surprising that the AB were able to win so comfortably (in terms of points on the board).

The end result of all this -at the time- was that the nobody really knew how to interpret the match. As the article below state some South Africans believed that the match was reason to celebrate as it provided evidence that the AB's can be beaten, while others were left aghast by the efficiency of the All Black forwards in the heat. The New Zealanders self were uncertain but quietly confident that the team was still coming to terms with SA teams, conditions and referees and that there was no reason for concern.