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Universities, Hawkes Bay and Bay of Plenty

A number of off-field incidents dominated the last three tour matches and turned the NZ public –being very positive, even sympathetic, up to this stage- against the touring Springboks. The most significant of these incidents was a very ill timed announcement by Dr. Verwoerd that Maori’s will not be welcome as part of the envisioned 1967 All Black tour to South Africa.

This was big news and the New Zealand media went ballistic. Danie Craven was in the center of it trying to blow out fires and to calm the emotions; stemming the accumulating negativity towards South African rugby.

This is was Terry McLean writes about this announcement, Craven’s response and the timing of the announcement:

Never in the field of rugby conflict can there have been so dreadful a day as this. The news started coming over the air at the breakfast sessions that the Prime Minister of South Africa, Dr. Verwoerd, had made an important statement, the burden of which was that the Maori’s could not be countenanced as members of the All Blacks’ team to visit South Africa in 1967.

There was hell to play on the New Zealand front. When I rang Tom Morrison at about 11:15, he had been on the telephone continuously since 7:30. He had prepared a statement for the Press Association to the effect that it was pointless to anticipate the worst because the South African board’s invitation, in due time would indicate the true situation. The New Zealand Rugby Council, he said, had never discussed the policy of “No Maori’s, no tour” because ever since the Dominions’ Rugby conference in Johannesburg in 1960, it had been convinced that the Maori’s would be eligible for selection in the team of 1967.

I had Craven on the ‘phone from Oamaru. What followed was extraordinarily interesting and, to my mind, sensational. Danie iterated and reiterated that the Verwoerd statement had only “indicated” the possibility that Maori’s would not be permitted; he had not positively said so. Until some official statement confirmed that Dr. Verwoerd had in fact announced a ban, Craven did not intend to believe the reports. “I have other facts at my disposal,” Danie said.

The ordinary bloke I spoke to seemed to have one thought: Someone should knock Dr. Verwoerd’s bloody block off for timing his statement to put the last of the tour and the whole of the Springbok team into the most difficult circumstances imaginable.

Today, with the advantage of hindsight and having been able to emotionally distance our-selves from previous Afrikaner endorsed cultural perspectives it is bone-chilling to see how just out of touch the Verwoerd government was -with international perspectives of the time- on the issue of racial segregation.

In the mist of all this turmoil was a team full of young Afrikaners (English and Afrikaans speaking) who had been trying their utmost -for three months on tour- to please the New Zealand public and to foster a positive regard about South Africans.

The public turned –after the announcement- almost instantly from being very positive to being predominantly negative towards the touring party. This negativity received some additional fertilizer when three of the All Blacks playing in the next match – for the NZ universities- got injured and had to leave the field; reducing the Universities team to just 12 players, for the last 30 minutes of the match.

This is what Terry McLean writes on this issue of the NZ public’s change of hearts towards the Springboks of 1965:

Circumstances alter cases. So do crowds. At the annihilation of New Zealand universities by the Springboks by 55 points to 11 at Eden Park today, the manners of the crowd towards the Springboks grew as churlish as had the manners of the crowd at Athletic Park against Mr. Millar, the referee, during the match against New Zealand Maori’s.

When du Preez appeared to be involved in a late tackle, the reaction of the crowd contained malevolence. There were many such uncomfortable moments for the Springboks.

For Danie Craven among the South African officials and Roelf Theunissen and Gert Kotze among the pressmen, these reactions must have instantly recalled the booing of the ‘Boks of ’56 during their early match with Auckland and their last match, in that fateful final test, with the All Blacks.

The Springboks were at the end of a long tour, homesick and tired. So when these events culminated into some further off the field incidents –which I’ll elaborate on as the discussion evolves- the situation perpetuated into the team becoming progressively more and more fed-up (gatvol) as they approached the fourth and final test.

The impact of this ill-timed Maori announcement and ensuing incidents/events on the morale of the team was in all probability the root cause for the all time largest thumping –up to that stage- the Springboks received from the All Blacks in the fourth test.

The morale was high after the victory in the third test and the team went into the match against the NZ university team in reasonably good emotional shape but received such a morale wrecking response from the crowd that they walked out of the match feeling more than a little disillusioned about their situation.

Auckland, 8 September 1965 - Springboks 55 / NZ Universities 11

The Springboks were back in Auckland for the match against the New Zealand University side which boasted five All Blacks in Ian Uttley, Ray Moreton, Mick Williment, Earle Kirton and Chris Laidlaw. There were also 5 players in the team that were not regular members of their provincial teams.

The Sprinbok team for this match was: Mulder; Brynard; Gainsford; Olivier; Mans; Barnard; Smith (Captain); Slabber; Schoeman; Botha; du Preez; Ellis; Macdonald; Malan; van Zyl.

Injuries turned a much anticipated match into a farce. The University side was reduced to 12 men in the last 30 minutes with the first injured player, Williment, leaving the field after just 7 minutes. Sixteen minutes later Laidlaw was on the sideline as well after landing on his head in a tackle.

Laidlaw attempt’s to stay on the field; his two dramatic falls -once on the sideline, before going back, and a second time on the field just before permenatly leaving the field; his concussed stumbling on the field caused a bit of an emotional stir-up.

McLean writes:

Laidlaw stayed by the touchline for several minutes, during one in which he collapsed, dramatically by falling backwards. When he returned, he was so whoozy in the head that he played at extra fullback, in the company of Strang, who was posted there from the flanker.

He looked as silly as a headless hen, wandering around at fullback, plainly not knowing whether it was Wednesday or Michaelmas. Yet when the teams scrummed five yards vorm the South African goal-line, Laidlaw somehow got himself into the five-eighths line. Not only that, while on the run he let fly with a dropkick and, clean a whistle, the ball sailed between the posts.

Then he returned to halfway and, quite simply, collapsed again. That was the end of him.

Talk about a Hollywood and milking circumstances for dramatic effect. 

A concussed Chris Laidlaw during the University match

When Uttley, about 15 minutes later, also left the field as a consequence of an apparent late tackle by du Preez the crowd went wild with fury. The fact that all three players -leaving the field- were All Blacks convinced the crowd that the injuries were deliberately inflicted and insults were hurled at the visitors from all round the ground.

These circumstances did, however, provide vital ammunition for the introduction of replacements at all levels, and in 1968 the rule was changed to allow two injured players to be replaced in matches involving international teams.

A crowd of 40 000 attended the match played in bright sunshine on a hard surface; providing excellent circumstances for the Springboks to showcase their dangerous backs and so they did admittedly against only 12 players for most part of the match.

Jan Ellis took an in-pass within three minutes, after the start, and ran over to open the score. Mulder converted. Smith broke away from the scrum three minutes later starting a move that ended with Brynard sprinting in for a try. Barnard pounced on a ball spilled backwards by Smith after another brake to score in the 15th minute. Mulder converted. Hermansson the University no8 took over at No9 when Laidlaw was on the sideline and opened the scoring for the University team with a penalty goal from 30 yards; Springboks replied with a try by Gainsford converted by Mulder.

Osborne (No14) scored the Universities only try soon hereafter when he surged through a gap, kicked ahead and won the race against Mans to the ball to score. Laidlaw’s dropgoal came soon after the try before Ellis and Mans added tries for the Springboks in the first half. Mulder converted one.

In the second half there were further tries by van Zyl, Ellis, Mans, Slabber, Brynard and Gainsford in that order. Mans took over the kicking and converted four of these tries which brought the final score on 55-11. A convincing win with 13 tries but the Boks came out of the match slightly perplexed and discontented with reception received from the crowd, fully aware what precipitated this change in mind-set towards them.

McLean concludes his pièce on this match with this:

Kirton and Moreton in the five-eighths were not only wanting in speed, they were wanting in agility and firmness of tackle; and it was through holes such as they left that the Springboks, utilizing their pace, their backing-up, alertness, in short their vastly superior powers as running players, poured in a flood of green and gold for no fewer than 13 tries.

By the look of things they would still run in many of these tries, even if the Universities had remained fit throughout the match, for Gainsford, and Barnard in the backline looked all but irresistible, and in the forwards Ellis, most of all, and Schoeman, van Zyl and Slabber were swiftly aggressive.

There had to be criticism of the Springboks. It grated that Smith, far from appreciating that the only possible way to play the game after Uttley had gone was to turn it into an exhibition, full of joy and gladness, kept turning the screw as if the match were the Grand Final of all Grand Finals. 

Napier, 11 Sept 1965 - South Africa 30 / Hawke's Bay 12

The Maori thing didn’t want to go away and kept coming back, in the days leading to the next match in Napier, like a turd that don’t want to flush.

Terry Mclean writes:

Senator de Klerk had come out with a long statement partly aimed at discrediting and rebuking Danie Craven and principally aimed at settling all possibilities of Maori’s being allowed to compete for places in the team. The Senator said New Zealand could not be allowed to dictate to South Africa over the matter. He took a good swing at Craven for doubting the accuracy of Dr. Verwoerd’s statement and for having declared that he had “other facts” to his disposal which he would disclose if necessary.

Craven made a statement to the media in Napier essentially revealing the behind the scène discussions which took place between him and de Klerk before he left for New Zealand. He related that he interpreted de Klerk’s message –that Craven should gather facts and information onto how a deal could be fashioned to the satisfaction of both parties- to imply that the door to the inclusion of the Maori’s was still open.

Craven had a exclusive session with the Afrikaans speaking media afterwards and one of these journalist later told McLean that Craven was now conscious that his own head was on a charger and that he would have to take steps to protect himself from the fury of Verwoerd and his followers.

The Springboks were happy to accept an invitation to spend a morning and lunch at “Brooklands” the 2000-acre farm of Lou Harris about 15 minutes drive from Napier. The envisioned a quiet picnic type morning but was gripped with frustration when on arrival found at least 250 people awaiting them and having to front-up for yet another social obligation. They retreated into themselves but did mingle and staged a topdressing display. However, when told soon after lunch that they need to step-up and get into the bus because they need to be in Hastings no later than 3:30 to honor another invitation, by the major and citizen of Hastings, Kobus Louw’s jaw clamped tight. Enough was enough. The Boks had a rugby game the next day and Kobus demanded that the team be taken back to their Hotel in Napier. 

Some pictures of Napier

The unwillingness of the Springboks to honor the Hastings invitation was of course all over the Newspapers by that evening and did not help at all to improve the ill feelings that the New Zealand public was harbouring towards the South Africans.

The Hawkes Bay team had a good record in 1965 and the Springboks named a strong side for the match. The team was: Wilson; Engelbrecht; Gainsford; Roux; Mans; Oxlee; de Villiers (Captain); Hopwood; Schoeman; Naude; du Preez; Nel; Macdonald; Malan; Parker.

The home team fielded three All Blacks – Captain Kel Tremain, Ian MacRae and Bill Davis- and two players who were later to wear the silver fern, Blair Furlong and Neil Timberley. There were also a couple of Maori as well North and South Island team representative players and a few who had taken part in the All Black trails.

The most interesting Hawkes Bay player –from a South African perspective- was the right wing Floris Duvenhage. Duvenhage was a former Transvaal player but would also later play for the junior All Blacks (according to an Affies Newsletter; I not sure whether this is actually correct). At one stage during the tour the Springbok managers considered calling Duvenhage, whose father played two tests for the Springboks against the 1948 All Blacks, into the team to alleviate their injury problems. 

Floris Duvenhage who played two tests for South Africa on centre against the 1948 All Blacks. His son played for Hawkes Bay against the 1965 Springboks in Napier.

The Springboks were penalized at the first scrum allowing Hawkes Bay to open the scoring by converting the penalty. Oxlee equalized a few minutes later. Then Naude scored, after a break by de Villiers from a scrum with Schoeman receiving it from the No9 and breaking through a few weak tackles before handing to Naude.

The scores were leveled when Bishop (No 15) goaled a penalty, awarded against Parker the Springbok No1.

In the second half the Springboks took control and scored 5 further outstanding tries. Engelbrecht scored the first of his three tries with a 35 yards run after de Villiers dashed away from a scrum. Davis the Hawkes Bay left wing then scored for the home team after a good run by Johnson (No8).

Engelbrecht scored his second try after a drop-goal attempt by Neale (No 9) was charged down and the Springboks ran the ball almost the full length of the field with backs and forwards combining splendidly. Naude kicked a penalty before yet another break from de Villiers put Engelbrecht away for his third try.

The last two tries were scored by Du Preez and Gainsford. Du Preez scored after a line break by the backs with the ball going to Engelbrecht who passed to Du Preez running up in support. Gainsford scored the easiest of tries after receiving from de Villiers who intercepted close to the Hawkes Bay goal line.

For the home team Davis and McRae made some penetrating runs and Duvenhage and Smith defended well.

The star of the match was Dawie de Villiers. Oxlee had one of his beter games and Engelbrecht scored some good tries. Wilson was solid on fullback and du Preez the best of the forwards.

Terry McLean writes concludes on this match:

It’s “Dawie’s day”, with bells on. But Dawie is not the only Springbok of note, not by a long shot.

There’s Naude, in whom one can now see elements of greatness; du Preez, who scores a try with the with the absolute finality of Tremain; Nel, who gets around the field like one of the keener members of the Arthur Lydiard long-distance running school; Gainsford and Roux, who are once more happy with not only their own work but also in each other; Engelbrecht, whose three magnificent tries speak for themselves; and so and so on.

It’s a great team performance, perhaps, all things considered, the best of the tour. 

Rotorua, 14 Sept 1965- South Africa 33 / Bay of Plenty 17

Bill Gray, Kevin Barry, Dick Conway and Bruce McLeod were the All Black who played for the Bay of Plenty combined team against the Springboks in Rotorua. Paul Scott (No1) was named an All Black reserve in 1966. The combined team –as is the case with combined teams- were hampered by lack of combinations and structure as a result of players not having player together previously. 

Wilson, Nomis, Truter and Oxlee with two local girls relax in the sun as a launch whips them across one of Rotorua's scenic lakes.

A crowd of 26 000 showed-up and the Springboks entertained them with a thrilling display of running rugby on a hard surface.

The Springbok team for this match was: Mulder; Engelbrecht; Gainsford; Olivier; Truter; Oxlee; de Villiers (Captain); Hopwood; Schoeman; Goosen; Botha; Janson; Marias; Walton; Parker.

The Springboks scored 9 tries with Engelbrecht notching-up his second hattrick in two consecutive matches. Eben Olivier made some telling breaks in the midfield but the forwards linked well with the backline and scored 5 of the nine tries. Apart from Engelbrecht’s three tries there were also tries by Oxlee, Hopwood, Schoeman, Piet Botha, Janson and Walton.

De Villiers had another good game and Hopwood and Janson the pick of the South African forwards.