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Reaction on the first test: Wanganui and Waikato

The weather was muggy, heavy and oppressive the mood in the Springbok camp morbid, heavy and oppressive and the two hour bus ride to Wanganui felt murderously long and oppressively uncomfortable. Unexpected and naughty humor from Hannes Marais lightened the day whose post test melancholy –worsened by hangovers of varying degrees of profundity- was deepened by the frigidity of the weather all over New Zealand.

Gielie de Kock “die Landstem” sport journalist on tour was the man that suffered under Marais' ploy. The “Landstem” was known and notorious as a type of "Vice in the garments of Virtue” a sort of moral watchdog who specialized in putting stars and famous people under the spotlight with paparazzi style journalism in an attempt to act as protector of the truth or a higher moral code as they saw it. Gielie looking for sensational scoops, in accord with what his newspaper expected from him was therefore the ideal man for Hannes Marais’ con. Gielie was immediately very interested when Hannes Marais drew him aside and whispered: “Big news.” "They have found a queer in the touring party. Kobus is mad with rage. Tour committee had a meeting.” Gielie was dancing with excitement. “What? What is happing?” he wanted to know. Hannes pitched his voice even lower. “They know who it is,” he said. “Kobus is going to send the man home. Immediately. It is the story of your life.” Gielie was now unstoppable. “Tell me who it is! I must know. I demand you tell me. Who is it?” Marais leaned closer. “Give us a kiss, Gielie,” he said, “and I’ll tell you.”

Television has come to New Zealand –implemented only 5 years ago in 1960- and highlights of the first test was repeatedly shown and it was clear from the footage that the ball was propelled forward from Williment’s hands before Tremain picked it up to score. Several other referee blunders were also highlighted. Terry McLean takes a very philosophical position regarding the matter:

So What? Without the least possible doubt, though R. F. McMullen scored for the All Blacks against the Springboks in the rubber test of 1960 at Port Elizabeth, Ralph Burmeister, the extremely capable referee in charge of the game, said it wasn’t a try. So it wasn’t. Pat Murphy said Tremain’s was a try. So it was. That’s refereeing. That’s Rugby.

Springboks were quite discontented with an article featured in a South Africa newspaper stating that women from all over New Zealand is constantly calling the Hotel(s) –in which the Springboks are staying- to book rooms. This information was intertwined reprovingly with statements that players stay out late at night; the implication between the lines that the late nights was spend in the company of women. As can be seen in the photo’s below the ‘boks’ certainly did spent time in the company of the fairer sex. 

Keith Oxlee and Lionel Wilson chat with two of the local beauties at the dance for the team at Rotorua. The Springboks were always popular with the fairer sex and dancing partners were never hard to come by. 

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.

Frik du Preez and Abe Malan visited a stud farm where the photo below was taken among other things. Some of the Springboks went on duck and deer hunting trips and several tried their hands at sheep shearing. Stories of outstanding shooting and very average shearing -leaving sheep behind looking like honey combs- appeared in the newspapers. While the tales of remarkable marksmanship were uncovered as half-truths, the accounts of pitiable shearing performances proved to be the full truth. 

Frik du Preez (on horseback) and Abie Malan during a visit to a stud farm in Wanganui.

August 4, 1965 - South Africa 24 / Wanganui-King Country 19

Wanganui-King Country fielded a team with a formidable pack. The All Blacks locks Stan and Colin Meads, and two players who played for the Maori's namely Bill Wordley on hooker and Jerry Paiaka on prop -the latter two players also were All Black trialists.

In the backline, scrumhalf Brain Cressy has played for the Maori's while Phil Gaukrodger (wing) and Paul Tainui (centre) played in the recent All Black trials. 

The Springbok team for this match was: Mulder, Truter, Men, Gainsford, Engelbrecht, Barnard, De Villiers (captain), Hopwood, Slabber, Goshen, Du Preez; Ellis; Marais, Malan, Parker.

The river city put its best has foot forward for this match and the weather was perfect except for a light drizzle towards the end; 16 000 people attended the game. 

Wanganui, known as "the river city" 

Map showing the location of Wanganui on North Island.

It was a game of two halves. In the first half the Springboks were brilliant and scored four tries with outstanding counter attacks and some brilliant individual running by the likes of Mans, Engelbrecht, Du Preez and Ellis. Halftime Colin Meads rallied his troops and the second half the Wanganui team came back in splendid fashion making it a very exciting affair for the spectators. 

First points came after two minutes of play when the combined team gave away a penalty for offside play and Mulder kicked and easy goal. Ten minutes later, Ellis took an infield pass from de Villiers; slipping past several defenders with step and swerve before passing to Mans to score near the posts.

After sixteen minutes into the first half the Springboks took the ball down the right touchline before Engelbrecht finally round the move off after what looked like a forward pass. Mans converted.

Thirty minutes into the first half Gainsford ripped the midfield defence open with an excellent line break before handing over to Du Preez to score near the poles. Mans again successful with the conversion.

McDonald (No15) succeeded for the combined team with a penalty after the Springboks have been guilty of obstruction. Tapsell (No14) broke through a few tackles shortly hereafter to score out wide; MacDonald missed with the conversion. Just before halftyd Engelbrecht break into space running well and when halted he handed to Ellis who crossed the goal line and ran around to score behind the posts. Mans converted. Halftime score 21-6. 

Everything indicated that the Springboks were going to run away with the match in the second half. Colin Meads however rallied the home team to a splendid recovery that almost toppled the South Africans. After just four minutes into the second half Paiaka (No1) dived on the ball after a kick by Barnard was charged down. MacDonald converted. Form a scrum Maurice Rush (No7) crashed when the ball came out at the side of a scrum on the Springboks goal line. The conversion was successful. Two minutes the combined team won a lineout in the Springboks 25 yards area and Ingham (No10) landed a drop goal to bring the home team within two points of the Springboks score. 

The crowd could now sense a local victory and went ballistic -every tackle and movement of the home team was loudly cheered. Seven minutes before full time Truter ran strongly against the left touch line and score wide out. This unconverted try sealed the victory of 24-19 for the Springboks.

Terry McLean described the last fifteen minutes and Truter's try as follows:

With 15 minutes to play, Rush got a try from a scrum near the goal line beating both De Villiers and Ellis to the rolling ball; and if the ball somehow hadn’t quite extricated itself as it should from the scrum, not a man in the audience was prepared to care a hoot for niceties; especially after MacDonald had placed the goal to make the score 21-16.

Within a minute, Spriggens Park went stark, staring mad. Ingham saw the gap, ran into it and placed a long, spearing punt far to the left. The ball entered touch five yards from the Springbok corner-flag. Pandemonium. Paiaka, who had given the ball out for the first kick, gave it out again. When Ingham received it, he steadied before letting fly with a dropkick. Over she went, dead-centre, 21-19 and nearly 14 minutes to play. Could it be possible that Wanganui-King Country, a team of lowly estate, was going to win?

Very skilfully indeed de Villiers placed a kick ten yards from the Wanganui-King Country goal-line out of the clasping arms of tacklers. The ball now fell behind the home side’s forwards. Cressy was overrun. Ellis and Malan hunted shoulder to shoulder. When the ball was checked, they had command of it. At the heel, de Villiers swept a pass to the left. Through two, three hands it fled, into the arms of Truter. Truter had been playing with unconscionable incompetence; now he swerved and sidestepped brilliantly past MacDonald before running in a try. By making the score 24-19, it removed the likelihood of the ‘Boks being beaten. 

Truter at Wanganui, brilliant one moment incomprehensively clumsy the next moment. Truter in one of his brilliant moments scored the try which sealed the victory for the Springboks against Wanganui.

Mulder performed well at fullback, Engelbrecht and Truter was impressive with the ball in hand but suspect on defence. In the back Barnard impressed; Ellis and Hopwood was outstanding in the loose. The Springboks tight forwards struggled, Malan lost the hooking contest and the Springboks had no answer for the Meads brothers in the lineout.

The next few paragraphs in Terry McLean’s book “the bok busters” provides a good summary of the game:

There were two distinct phases in the build-up of excitement. The first phase was the Springboks’ quite brilliant counter-attacking, especially by Hopwood and super little Jannie Barnard, and the running of some superb tries in which Engelbrecht, an Engelbrecht of unbelievable sure hands, wafted about like a flying fantail.

In the second half there was extremely fine forward play by the Wanganui forwards with the two Meads brothers leading the charge. Collin Meads several times rose like the statue of Liberty and with the ball in one mighty paw fired passes of 20 yards into the backline.

There were some complaints....Paiaka messing about too much in the front of the scrum; Rush getting a try from a ball that hadn’t properly gone into the scrum; Paiaka’s try being disputed by Ellis with more vehemence than Anthony displayed over the dead body of Caesar; too much barging against the Springboks in the lineout, especially by that master barger, Colin Meads. All the usual things usual to a tough match in which one team managed to play a whole lot beter than it ever should have been allowed to. But, in sum this match was by far the most exciting of the tour. 

August 7, 1965 - South Africa 26 / Waikato 13

The Waikato match was greeted with great anticipation because the victory against the 1956 Springbok side has something of a cult status in New Zealand. That 1956 win is probably the most famous victory in the history of Waikato rugby if not New Zealand rugby.

Upon arrival in Hamilton, the Springboks found the city in rugby fever; a parade of 63 floats and a 1 mile long procession followed the Springboks through the streets on the way to their Hotel. The enthusiasm, fervour and expectations were enormous. The 1965 Waikato team were keen to life up to the expectations and the performance of their predecessors. The 1965 Waikato team was however not nearly as formidable as the 1956 team but the expectation was that they would give the ‘boks’ firm competition. Rex Pickering (No8) was the only All Black in the team and the only remaining player from the famous 1956 team.

Joe Porima (No1) was a New Zealand junior player as was Dave Flavell (No15). Ian Cathro (No9), Ray Wells (No. 12) and John MacKenzie (No14) was All Black trials players. Graeme Clarke (No5) was the brother of Ian and Don Clarke two famous All Blacks.

The Springboks rested most of their top players. The team was: Mulder, Mans; Brynard; Roux, Truter, Barnard, Smith (Captain), Slabber, Schoeman, Naude, Botha; Janson, MacDonald, Malan, Parker. Interesting was that Gertjie Brynard -actually a wing- was selected on centre with Mannetjies Roux. 

Piet Botha against Waikato

The weather and field conditions were perfect and 30 000 spectators attended the game. Waikato was ahead 3-0 after a drop goal from Johnson (No. 13) at halftime. Within a minute after the start of the second half they increased their lead to 8-0 when Truter was caught in possession; the ball came loose; Johnson (No13) picked it up drew Mulder and gave it to Wells (No12) in space who ran over for a try which Flavell converted. 

Truter in trouble against Wanganui. Against Waikato, he was also caught in possession leading to Waikato's first try.

South Africa's first points came after a forward rush that ended with a try by Naude near the poles. Mans converted and shortly afterwards Naude succeeded with a long range penalty to tie the scores. Botha the other lock forward burst through the defence shortly hereafter before handing to Schoeman who scored near the posts for Mans to convert.

Jannie Barnard scored the Springboks third try after a brilliant side-stepping run. Mans converted.

Waikato scored their third and final try when Pickering (No8) outstripped the defence after Kemp (No10) slipped though a gap left by Brynard. Flavell succeed with the conversion and with five minutes left on the clock the game was wide open until Smith capitalized -when Waikato dropped the ball after a daring move in their own 25-yard area- and scampered away for a try in the corner. Janson scored the ‘Boks’ sixth and last try after a drive and rush by the forwards. Mans converted to bring the final score on 26-13. 

For the ‘Boks’ Macdonald was outstanding with good support from Naude and Malan. Schoeman stood out in the loose. Barnard was often brilliant, and Mulder gave another sound display at fullback. Mans kicked well and made several good runs.

Here are some selected paragraphs from Terry McLean's book (The Bok busters) that provide a great synopsis of the game:

David versus Goliath. That was the way of it. Just before the battle reached halfway, David struck. 3-0. Soon after it had begun again, David struck again. 8-0. It was absurd. It was fantastic. It was wonderful. Thirty thousand for whom David was the star screamed with pleasure and anticipation. This could be ’56 all over again. Then Goliath, mighty Goliath, began to roll. When Mr. Millar blew his whistle to bring the contest to an end, Goliath had 26 points, David only 13.

The Springboks announced that they were getting sick of themselves by staging two fine runs in the 10th minute of the second half. This was followed with a tight-head by Malan, Slabber, playing extremely well, jigged out of half-hearted tackles and Naude, taking his pass plunged over for Mans to goal.

The match started to turn slowly and grindingly in favour of the Springboks. Naude placed a penalty from 47 yards. Slabber, having been held by both Kemp and Catley, was allowed to depart and Schoeman, taking his pass crashed over for Mans to goal. Barnard with sidestep and speed went past three men in a run of 20 yards for a try Mans also goaled.

For a moment, Waikato came back into the game when Kemp went through a gap carelessly left by Brynard; and Pickering, backing up, saw the gap, ran trough it for 20 yards and scored amid the wildest elation, which was renewed when Flavell placed the goal.

One more wild move by Waikato, by Kemp, Johnson and others, ruined by an ankle tap by Roux, and then it was Springboks, Springboks, Springboks. First, Smith with a try after 20 yards of speeding down the blindside. Then Catley, just after being hurt, was caught by Naude, and Malan and Janson, backing-up, charged over for Mans to place the converted goal. 

Rex Pickering score for Waikato; Pickering, the only All Black in the Waikato team; the only survivor of the 1956 team; the only player who scored against both the 1965 and 1956 Springboks.