A interesting relationship developed between Danie Craven, the media and the New Zealand public during the 1956 tour –when Craven was coaching the side. Adoration and apprehension probably the best way to desbribe the curious fascination they had with the man. They adored him for his dedication, his competiveness and the excitement he brought, by posing a real challence but they were apprehensive because of the uncertainty within that very challenge; the fear of not being able to overcome the challence or that their beloved All Blacks might lose. Craven was literally front page news -on a daily basis- in 1956. A man they loved to hate and in 1965 he was treated like royalty on arrival in New Zealand.
Terry McLean and Craven had a bit of a history; an intense relationship based on respect but also with a bit of needle and competitiveness –trying to outsmart each other. Craven tried to use the media to his advantage in 1956 but McLean had a way of using Craven's words to produce the exact opposite result; so the rivalry extended to a battle of words in the newspapers.
McLean’s observations and thoughts about Craven is therefore interesting. Here is what he has in his book about Craven’s arrival:
He came down from the airplane through the door of the first-class compartment -Good. The New Zealand rugby union was treating him as befitted his rank and station.
There were many other passengers in the aircraft and whether they rode first or economy class each was of importance to his family, his business, his friends.
But none was so important as this man – for this was Dr. Danie Craven, president of South African Rugby Board, a member of the International Rugby Board, a man of such prodigious influence in Rugby throughout the world that in east and west and north and south he was called, in the highest compliment, “Mr. Rugby”.
Mclean goes on to describe how Craven was swooped away by television and high officials; being made unattainable to the general newspaper reporter. He then describes how he essentially ignored all restrictions and forced his way into the room to have his moment with Craven.
I burst into the television room, prepared to plunge a cathode tube deep into the heart of anyone who attempts to bar the way. Instead, Danie comes, like a lamb.
“I have only two things to say at the moment, “says he. “I refuse to believe that these Springboks are not dedicated and-.” “Ah, but it’s true,” says AC Parker, firmly. “You shake me, but I can’t argue with you,” says Danie. “The second thing is that people of New Zealand feel sympathy for this team. This, I cannot accept.
They must tremble at the very name, “Springboks’. ”He throws back his head, his eyes dilate, as he speaks the word. In his utterance, there is the defiance of a battle-cry.
This is the real Danie - the man who has given his life to South African Rugby, to whom Rugby is the beginning and the end. It is impossible to withhold respect.
A delighted Danie Craven after the victory in the third test. Look at the intensity of emotion in his eyes. Notice also the body language of the players.
The Springbok team was announced and 5 changes were made to the team that played in the 2nd test; De Villiers in for Smith; Barnard for Oxlee; Hopwood for Schoeman; Naude for Goosen; Walton for Malan. Naude in all probability for his place kicking with Oxlee and Mans –the only two reliable place kickers- not playing.
The team was: Wilson; Brynard; Roux; Gainsford; Engelbrecht; Barnard; de Villiers (Capt); Hopwood; Ellis; Du Preez; Naude; Nel; Macdonald; Walton; van Zyl.
Only one change was made to the New Zealand side with Malcolm Dick –hitherto on the injured list- brought in for Smith on the wing. The New Zealand side can be seen here.
The day after the announcement of the team Naude, du Preez and Ellis were put to work as goalkickers. Naude was goodish, du Preez was a little beter and Ellis was hopeless. Danie Craven ran the team practice but the session did not impress McLean at all.
On the day before the test McLean wrote:
Mind you, the atmosphere generated by the Springboks and the newspapers has shaken Danie Craven as never before. He told Michael Robson during the afternoon that he had never known such pessimism around a Springbok team before a test match ever.
The ground was wet and greasy but bright sunshine prevailed throughout the game.
South Africa 19 / New Zealand 16
This test was described afterwards as the most dramatic comeback in the history of world rugby. After New Zealand took a commanding –even regarded as an unassailable- half time lead of 11 point (16-5) South Africa came back to score 14 points in the second half. The match had drama and suspense.
Drama: South Africa’s first try in the series in response to a try by NZ in the first 5 minutes to take an early lead; NZ running away with the score board thereafter -in the first half- with a opportunistic try and some good place kicking; South Africa scoring 3 spectacular tries from set play in the second half; good defense preventing some incredible backline created scoring opportunities.
Suspense: An out of this world, almost impossible, penalty kick by Tiny Naude in the last 3 minutes, with a wet ball out of a muddy patch, to edge ahead on the scoreboard; desperate attacking by New Zealand in the last 2 minutes and a impossible and agonizingly slow, time wasting, place kick by Naude, from the half line, in the dying minutes just to miss and see New Zealand starting to run from their own goal line, breaking through several tackles, before the ball spilled loose, allowing Roux to hoof it over the side line.
To use Terry McLean’s words: It was a prince of a game. One of the greatest.
The drama started in the first minute when Roux charging out of line to take a flykick at a ball thrown over the lineout; missing it completely; leaving a gap in the defensive line wide enough to turn an ox wagon. Colin Meads ran into the bouncing ball at speed and went straight for the gap left by Roux. This forced Gainsford to come in and defend in Roux’s channel allowing Meads to send Tremain through Gainsford's channel to score his third try –one in each test- of the series. Why Roux didn’t just grabbed or fell on the ball only he will know? Williment missed with the conversion for NZ to lead 3-0.
Minutes later de Villiers hoist a clever box kick on the blindside. Engelbrecht chased and hassled, big Sakkie van Zyl was at hand to foot charge the ball towards the goal line.
A definite try scoring opportunity, prevented only because one of the All Blacks was at hand to force the ball dead.
A box kick by de Villiers on the blindside started South Africa’s first try in this test and the series. Here is Dawie de Villiers in the third test with Hopwood behind him.
Gainsford’s first try came from the ensuing scrum and was actually the result of a bit of a mix-up, in the Springbok backline.
The Springboks forwards were going for a push-over scrum. When their forward momentum got checked the ball went in a flash from de Villiers to Barnard.
Barnard drifting sideways, with the incoming ball, almost ran into Roux, who in an attempt to avoid a collision started to hang back and cross behind Gainsford; standing outside him but very close. This pulled the All Black defenders on 10 and 11 (the inside centre then) together and had them drifting sideways towards Gainsford. Barnard realizing he is going to collide with Roux popped the ball past Roux to Gainsford who instinctively stepped off his left foot passing in the process on the inside of the All Black numbers 10 and 11, bunched together, and charging at him. This placed the AB numbers 10 and 11 between Gainsford and his immediate opponent. Gainsford straightened in two or three strides, then chopped left a second time -inside the incoming cover defense- and in a few swift strides went over for a classic try.
A significant try.
The first try for the Springboks in the 1965 series; after the conversion also the first time the Boks took the lead in the series. But more importantly a try that gave South Africa the self-belief that they could break through the intimidating defensive structures of the black team and score tries.
John Gainsford scoring his first of two tries in this test match.
The lead and timid spark of self-belief didn’t last long, though, for the All Blacks scored a long range opportunistic try after yet another Springbok mistake. Pat Murphy -the man on whistle duty in all three tests, so far, in this series- instrumental. Murphy who pulled a hamstring in the second test -although able to hobble his way through that test- strained his hamstring, again, in an attempt to stay with the flying Rangi. It hindered him as he raced after the chasing All Blacks; unable to keep up he awarded yet another very dubious and controversial try against the South Africans.
This is how Terry McLean describes this particular try and both the referee and Lionel Wilson’s contributions to this underserved soft try:
From his own 25 yards area Moreton (No11) let fly with a high kick into the South African 25 yard area, so well placed that Wilson had to wait for it to bounce.
As it bounced it bounced into the dreadful muck left by the spectators in the in-goal area, he slipped and twisted. Nevertheless, he appeared fairly to force the ball a moment before Rangi travelling at speed, dived it to score a disputable try which Williment converted.
This was a serious misfortune for the Springboks and may well have been attributable to a recurrence in Mr. Murphy, the referee, of the hamstring injury which affected him in the second test.
Once Williment had placed the goal, Mr. Murphy whistled for himself to be replaced, a very sad experience for a referee making his seventh appearance in a test match –a New Zealand record.
Referee Pat Murphy leaving the field.
New Zealand went on attack and stringed a barrage of vigorous charges while camping in South Africa’s 25; swinging the ball first to the right, then to the left and when the ball carrier got checked -close to the goal line- they set it up, recycled quickly and attacked the narrow side at speed. The ball went from Laidlaw to Murdock (No10) who ran straight and hard before sending it to Moreton (No11) who with Birtwistle on his outside skidded in for a try near the corner.
The teams went into the half time break with New Zealand leading 16-5.
Dawie de Villiers sensed a relaxation, on defense, by the New Zealanders after Brynard first try, early in the second half, and urged the forwards for more ball. The result was that the 11 point deficit was reduced to a zero point lead within 20 minutes of play in the second half. Barnard, Gainsford, Roux and Brynard were elusive and full of enterprise on attack and apart from Brynard scoring two tries and Gainsford scoring a second try there were at least two other close calls when Engelbrecht first and then Naude were stopped just short of the line after inventive play in the backline.
Barnard in process of executing a clever stab-through-grubber, in a gap between the two New Zealand centres, with Mannetjies Roux next to him. Like a falcon, swooping down on his prey, Roux accelerated onto the rolling ball. He scooped it off the ground in a flash, then blitz past two defenders with a 20 meter rocket like take-off, as he came out of the scoop-up like a sprinter out of his starting blocks, before sending Engelbrecht –ball tucked under his right arm-, gliding like a Greyhound, towards the corner flag. Engelbrecht was eventually forced over the touch line, just short of the corner flag. This move started in the Springboks 25 yard area and happened in between the two Brynard tries with South Africa trailing by 6 points. The Springboks sensed they had the upper hand in the backline and were running from every possible position trying every trick in the book.
Brynard first try, in the left hand corner, came after 5 minutes in the second half with Barnard, Gainsford and Roux combining in sterling fashion to put a flying Brynard in space. This is how Terry McLean describes Brynard first try:
At a scrum to the Springboks right near the New Zealand 25, Hopwood picked up the heel and made to the right, towards touch. Then he checked and chucked the ball left to de Villiers, to Barnard, to Gainsford, who trust through the opening, to Roux. Roux gave to Brynard and the latter skedaddled in at the corner. Two tries from set-piece plays? In a test match? Wow!
Play went on and there was a drop kick attempt by New Zealand before Engelbrecht was first flung out the corner after a long run, set up by Barnard and Roux. Then from the lineout South Africa mauled and the whole pack drove towards the goal line with Naude eventually taking a plunge at the line through a wall of humanity. Hopwood was sure it was a try. It was no try. Recompense was soon offered, though, in the form of Brynard’s second try which resulted from the scrum following the Naude plunge.
De Villiers, Barnard and Roux were the architect’s. De Villiers ran on the blind then switched play to the open side. Barnard ran across the field through a gap, after receiving from de Villiers, and then send a high overhand pass - over Roux’s head who was boxed in- to Brynard on the wing. Intuitively and cleverly, Brynard changed his line of running -on receiving the overhand pass- to cross behind Roux, and wrong footing the cover defenders, before diving over three defenders for a spectacular finish.
This is how McLean narrates the second Brynard try.
Ellis was the originator. His assistants were de Villiers, Barnard and Roux, all running fast and trickily. Brynard, with a stroke of genius, crossed Roux to take the pass and as he reached towards the goal-line, he flung himself right in the air. Momentarily, it seemed as if Williment and Laidlaw between them would hold him, in mid-flight. Vain hope. Brynard was down, it was a try, it was a goal for Naude and the Springboks with 26 minutes left, were 13-16. Wow!
Brynard scoring his second try by diving over two defenders.
Gertjie Brynard in full flight.
1965 to 1968.
Here is how Terry McLean profiled Gert Brynard in his book “the bok busters”:
Gert Steenkamp Brynard was always known to his team-mate as, phonetically, “Kairkee” (Gertjie in Afrikaans), and this was measure of the special regard they had for him. He deserved it, too. Having been a graduate, in 1964, of the medical school at Stellenbosch, he doctored their ills, advised upon their complaints and, if they were foolish enough to play poker against him, took their money.
As a wing, a centre and a scrumhalf in various stages of his career, he took on all three positions during the tour. He disqualified himself as a centre because he had an obsessive desire to play the game according to his own rules, played two blinders at scrumhalf when de Villiers was injured during the matches with New South Wales and Auckland, and was put, rather tentatively, at wing, the theory being that if he couldn’t be a Springbok at centre, he might show some faint traces of skill when removed as far as possible from the main area of conflict.
All of a sudden, the player who had looked lucky to be on the tour began to make the fullest use of his natural talents. These attributes were, not necessarily in order of importance, a sharp brain, a heart the size of a pumpkin, the feet of a feather-weight boxer, and the speed of a springbok –four legged, not two. Match by match “Kairkee” kept improving. By two thirds of the tour he was easily the most improved back of the team.
In many ways, thanks to that oversized heart, he was also the best back. He scored many tries and, being on the left wing, which is the right wing for scoring tries, he would have scored many more if his centres had appreciated how gifted he was.
If he had a weakness, it was his obsessive belief that three cards could beat a straight flush. But that was the wonderful, lovable thing about “Kairkee”. He took on life as if he was always playing at centre.
In the 23rd minute of the second half Roux made a half break from a scrum in the home teams 25 before flipping the ball to Gainsford who hand-off one defender and then went round Williment to score in the corner. Here is McLean version of this try:
The original fault was Williment’s, for placing a dropout from the 25 directly into touch. At the scrummage on the 25, South Africa heeled. They ran to the right and Roux made a break. Gainsford, 20 yards out, put his ears back and ran and when Williment came at him from his left he simply sidestepped to the right, out of arms’ reach, and dived in at the corner for a masterful try. Another try from a set-piece. Wow!
Gainsford on his way to his second try in the third test.
The scores were even now and Hopwood was screaming at the forwards, smashing a clenched fist into an open palm. Ellis made a long kick down the field. The Springbok backs charged after the ball and Barnard hacked it ahead. Laidlaw on cover was rushed into a hasty clearance kick, which was short, and caught by Wilson. Colin Meads in a desperate attempt to stop Wilson, in the clear, tackled him from an offside position. The penalty was called and the Springboks decided upon the penalty kick where Wilson caught the ball -5 yards from the sideline and about 3 to 5 yards outside the home team’s 25- instead of a scrum at the place where Laidlaw kicked it. What followed was one of the most dramatic events in Springbok rugby history. A moment which, above everything else, defined Tiny Naude for the rest of his life. This is how Terry McLean describes the unfolding of this incredible moment:
No one except the two concerned knew the comedy which went on while Naude came up to take the kick. Brynard, slippery, quicksilvery Brynard, urged Naude to take a tap-kick instead of a shot at goal –he and Naude could run the ball to the goal-line and score.
Brynard trying to convince Naude to tap-kick and run.
Naude’s heavy bass responded that against the All Blacks’ poised defence, the possibilities were small. Brynard whispered some more. Naude answered, doubtingly. All the time, Naude was using Brynard’s jersey to wipe down the ball.
By now, the touch-judges were at the goalposts. Naude shrugged way the last despairing whisper. With Detailed, almost maddening care, he teed the ball up.
Naude setting up the ball for his place kick; taking meticulous care.
After he had stepped back his run, he stood upright, his head sunk on his chest, and for long seconds meditated himself into the right frame of mind for his kick. Then he ran forward, struck at the ball and waited. Waited while in its low flight the ball ducked a little, slithered through the air and carried the bar.
Naude kicking his famous kick. Second photo Nel embraces Naude after the kick.
Waited while Nel rushed at him to embrace him, while other Springboks stood on tiptoe, their arms high above their heads, yelling in intoxicated delight.
Never again in his lifetime will Naude know such a moment as this -the triumph, the pleasure, the overwhelming sense of happiness.
Tiny with Frik du Preez later in his life.
1963 to 1968.
Terry Mclean profiling Tiny Naude:
Jacobus Naude acquired a certain dubious fame among the Springboks after a passage with a leading member of the Tour Committee (no doubt Abe Malan although not stated by McLean) following the victory of the All Blacks in the first test. “You were checked by Whineray at No. 4?” the committee-man asked. Naude nodded. “Whineray was putting you of your gait, you couldn’t jump properly, right?” said the committee-man again. “And the referee wasn’t stopping this?” Naude nodded. “Then why on earth didn’t you kick him?” A heavy frown gathered on “Tiny’s” great long face. “But I couldn’t,” he said. “I like the man.”
The tour committee dumped Naude from the next team. When he was reinstated for the third test, he won eternal fame and immortality by placing the goal which won the match and nothing else about his play that day is ever likely to be remembered.
Fact is his greatest contribution had been made long before the opportunity of the kick. Whineray, Gray and Colin Meads had jostled him out of effectiveness in the first test; in the third test, it was Naude who jostled Gray and even Colin Meads out of effectiveness. Whatever they did he did beter.
From here to the end of the tour, his improvement was startling. He became an automatic choice for the first team. He demonstrated that he was the most improved forward in the side.
Don Clarke said of Naude at an early stage: “He kicks like a girl.” He always did kick like a girl at the short ones, many of which he missed. But he got the kick that really mattered –really mattered a great deal more than any kick he might have aimed at Whineray.
Interview with Colin Meads
In a recent interview on the rugby channel -about this series and the third test in particular- the question was posed to Collin Meads: “What happened in that third test -how did you end up losing with a half time lead of 11 points?”. The great Pinetree’s response was something along the lines of: “I don’t really know, maybe we relaxed a little. We might have been a little too confident which affected our focus resulting in less concentration in defense”.
Fact of the matter is that South Africa played with a lot more urgency and presence at the breakdowns and there was also more driving, structure and forward momentum in the lineouts, as compared to the previous two tests. The 11 point lead was misleading because it resulted from three soft tries. New Zealand was not really dominating procedures to the extent that they thought they were but that perception -the All Blacks had at half time- of being totally on top, in all probability, created the psychological framework for this fantastic comeback.
Meads also remarked that they made sure not to make the same mistake in the fourth test which culminated in an easy win for NZ. That also is a bit of a wrong impression as South Africa did all the play in that fourth test running from impossible positions with NZ just feeding of the Springbok mistakes. The difference between the two teams as the 1970 series 5 years later would show was not that big at all. Political issues –about which I’ll write later more- as well as lack of leadership and confidence -the result of selecting a young team and captain, the wrong manager, an introvert for a coach, and no leader for the forwards, as well as having a tour committee being run by a previous captain -not good enough the make the test side- all contributed to indecisiveness, lack of cohesiveness and commitment in the team and played a bigger part in the outcome of this series as what the New Zealanders wanted to admit.
Run of the game
Tremain scored New Zealand’s first try after of over throw in the lineout and a flykick attempt –coming out of the defensive line- by Mannetjies Roux. Williment missed the conversion.
Gainsford scored after a 5 meter scrum; stepping of his left foot twice. Naude converted.
Barnard missed with a dropkick.
Rangi scored a long range try after Moreton kicked the ball into the Springboks in goal area and Wilson got beaten by the bounce. Williment converted.
Referee left the field with a hamstring injury to be replaced by the touch judge Mr. Alan Taylor.
Van Zyl was ruled offside and Williment placed the goal from 45 yards out.
Moreton scored on the blind side after continuous attack by the All Blacks. Williment missed with the conversion.
Naude missed with a 40-yard penalty.
Brynard scored his first try after a line break by Gainsford. Naude missed with the conversion.
Engelbrecht bundled into touch at the corner flag after innovative play by Barnard and Roux.
Brynard scored his second try just left of the upright by diving over three defenders. Naude unsuccessful with an easy conversion.
Naude hit the upright with a penalty from 35 yards out.
Drop kick by Barnard floated under the cross bar.
Gainsford scored his second try in the right hand corner after a break by Roux. Scores are even now on 16 all. Naude missed with the conversion.
Williment unsuccessful with penalty attempt from 40 yards.
Naude kicked the match winning penalty from about 26 yards out of a muddy patch against the touch line.
Naude misses with a longe range penalty from the half line.
Doug Hopwood after the third test.
Terry McLean finishes his section on this match as follows:
Heroes? Hopwood. Naude. Du Preez. Macdonald. van Zyl. De Villiers. The backline. The entire backline. Roux –wonderful hands. Gainsford –magnificent sidestep. Brynard –electrifying alive. Barnard –an admirable servant. Al heroes, all the Springboks. For they did what sportsmen aren’t suppose to be able to do –they came back.