During May and June 1984 England toured South Africa playing a series of seven matches including two test matches against the Springboks. They won four of the seven matches but lost both of the test matches as well as drawing the fixture against Western Province.
Tour record of the 1984 England team in South Africa
Date - Venue
19/5/84 - Kingspark
Currie Cup "B" Section XV
23/5/84 – Danie Craven Staduim
South African Federation
26/5/84 - Newlands
29/5/84 – Border Rugby ground
South African Rugby Association XV
2/6/84 – Boet Erasmus
5/6/84 - Sasolburg
19/6/84 - Ellispark
The team left for South Africa in the face of much criticism, and in spite of covert political pressure, the England Rugby Football Union decided that the tour of South Africa should go ahead, but probably with hindsight, in the light of results, later wished that they had not. Many players were unable to tour (not for political reasons, only Ralph Knibbs of Bristol stood up to be counted in that respect) and the squad was relatively inexperienced. Ten of the 26 players were uncapped before the tour and 7 gained their first caps in South Africa.
The English Touring party was:
J.P. Scott (Cardiff)
W.H. Hare (Leicester)
N.C. Stringer (Wasps)
M.D.Bailey (Cambridge University)
S.B. Burnhill (Loughborough College
P.W Dodge (Leicester)
J.A. Palmer (Bath)
A.M. Swift (Swansea)
D.M. Trick (Bath)
G.H. Davies (Wasps)
R.J Hill (Bath)
J.P. Horton (Bath)
N.G. Youngs (Leicester)
B. Barley (Wakefield)
P.J. Blakeway (Gloucester)
S.E. Brain (Coventry)
C.J.S. Butcher (Harlequins)
D.A. Cusani (Orrel)
J.H. Fidler (Gloucester)
J.P. Hall (Bath)
S.G.F. Mills (Gloucester)
G.S. Pearce (Northampton)
M. Preedy (Gloucester)
P.A.G. Rendall (Wasps)
G.W. Rees (Nottingham)
J.P. Scott (Cardiff)
M.C. Teague (Gloucester)
P.J. Winterbottom (Headingley)
It is because of the inexperience in the side that these two test count -in my book- as the most enjoyable and not the most satisfying and/or best wins against England. We demolished them and the boks scored some brilliant tries including a hat trick by a vintage Danie Gerber in the second test but it was against dubious opposition. Nevertheless, it was fun to watch and Gerber was at his exhilarating best. It was enjoyable and unforgettable rugby but that uncertainty factor which add satisfaction to a win was lacking and in the absence of real quality opposition one can hardly describe these wins as the best wins against England.
For the first time in history the Springbok team had two black players in the team namely Errol Tobias –the first black Springbok- and Avril Williams. Tobias who played in his first test in 1981 against Ireland on centre was playing on flyhalf in this series with Williams on the wing. Click here to read more about Tobias.
There were a number interesting players playing for South Africa as can be seen in the photo below.
Back: Hempies du Toit, Vleis Visagie, Schalk Burger, John Villet
Middle: Johan Heunis, Avril Williams, Gerrie Sonnekus, Carel du Plessis, Chris Rogers, Errol Tobias
Front: Danie Gerber, Divan Serfontein, Cecil Moss (coach), Theuns Stofberg (captain), Prof Daan Swiegers (manager), Rob Louw, Ockie Oosthuizen,
Schalk Burger senior was the one lock with Vleis Visagie –two huge men- John Villet –the poor man’s favorite centre- on inside centre. Gerrie Sonnekus who made his debut on scrumhalf in the third test against the 1974 British lions was back in the Springbok team but this time on No8 and Theuns Stofberg was the captain.
Big Schalk Burger with the ball in one hand in the second test.
I wonder how many people can actually remember that Stofberg Captained the Springboks. I also wonder how many people can remember the Gerrie Sonnekus right hook on the Wasps prop Paul Rendall (see photo’s below) in the second test.
Sonnekus getting ready to sort Paul Rendall on the first picture and delivering the right hook on the second picture.
Carel du Plessis opened the scoring in the first test. His try can be seen in the video clip below.
There were also tries by Rob Louw and Danie Gerber in the first test (see video clips below) and the Springboks won the first test 33-15.
The second test was by far the better of the two tests with the Springboks scoring 6 tries. Theuns Stofberg opened the scoring in the second test after some good running by Carel du Plessis (see video clip).
There were also tries by Errol Tobias and Gerrie Sonnekus but the cherry on the cake was the three stunning tries by everyone’s favorite centre Danie Gerber.
Gerber bamboozled the English backline and ran circles around them.
For his second try Gerber ran over 50 meters and then slid in classic Gerber style on his back over the line in the right hand corner but did not place the ball he then got up and ran in the in goal area to place the ball behind the uprights (See photo’s below). I’ve never seen another player do this before or since Gerber.
Danie Gerber scoring his second try in the second test.
Tobias first contributed to Danie Gerber’s last try with some nice stepping and aggressive running and then scored in the corner after a stupendous hand-off (see clips below).
Errol Tobias scoring the Springboks towards the end of the second test.
The last try of the match came from Gerrie Sonnekus (See clip below).
The Springboks totally outplayed the English scoring 9 tries in the two tests and one was left with a euphoric feeling that all is well in South African rugby. How can anything go wrong if we have somebody like Danie Gerber in the backline was the prevailing or lingering thought in the back of your mind.