RUGBY TRIVIA – Number 1
For 60 years from 1896 until 1956 the Springboks never lost a test series. The period covers ten tours to this country by the British Lions, All Blacks, Wallabies and France and six South African tours overseas. During this time the Springboks played 54 tests, winning 38, drawing 5 and losing only eleven.
- Springbok Annals 1891 – 1964. Compiled by Danie Craven 1964
The 15 forwards of the 1906/7 Springboks on the tour to the United Kingdom and France were Considered by the international media of the day as being giants – when in fact only six of them were over six feet in height with tallest being just six foot three. None of them weighed over 200lbs.
- Springbok Annals 1891 – 1964. Compiled by Danie Craven 1964
Hubert Castens our first ever Springbok rugby captain, holds a unique record in our history. When the 1891 tourists arrived here from the U. K. he refereed the first game of the tour, played in the second and third matches and then took the whistle once more for the 6th and 7th matches. The 8th game was the first test and he proudly led South Africa onto the field and featured prominently in the forward rushes. He played one more match against the tourists but by the time the third test came around he was once again the referee. Castens, who was from the Eastern Cape, studied law overseas and qualified as an attorney. He was later to lead our first national cricket side to England were they defeated a side at Lords led by W. G. Grace. He is recognised as the first real coach of rugby in South Africa. Unfortunately Castens lies buried in a paupers grave in London.
-Springbok Annals 1891 – 1964. Compiled by Danie Craven 1964 and -South Africa’s Cricketing Lawyers – H. Schulze 1999
Daisy De Melker, South Africa’s first convicted woman poisoner in 1932, having killed her first two husbands and only son, married again shortly before she was arrested to S. C. De Melker, a centre threequarter in Paul Roos’s 1906/7 Springbok side on the tour to the United Kingdom and France.
- Murder is my Business – Benjamin Bennett 1951
Jimmy Sinclair, a forward from what was then known as Transvaal, was selected for the Springboks in the 1903 series was better known as an international cricketer being the first South African to score a century in a Cricket Test. He was a prodigious hitter of the ball.
- Doc Craven’s Tribute to the Legends of Springbok Rugby 1889 – 1989. Editor K. Clayton.
Boy Louw, the legendary pre-war forward and holder of the then record of 18 test caps, played in every position in the scrum for the Springboks. In test matches, Louw played loose-head and tighthead prop, lock, flank and eighthman. Whilst on tour in 1937 in Australia and New Zealand he played in four matches as hooker. In later years Boy became a noted administrator, coach, selector and Springbok manager.
- A Statistical History of Springbok Rugby – T. Shnaps 1989
When we played England on the first Springbok tour in 1906/7 the match was played in atrocious conditions and the match ended in a draw. The media were upset with the result and led a campaign to have the Test replayed, even in calling the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies at the time to say his peace. Who was he.? None other then Winston Churchill, Britain’s leader in the Second World War.
-The Carolin Papers. A Diary of the 1906\07 Tour. Compiled and Edited By Lappe Laubscher and Gideon Nieman 1990.
The try scorer for England was Freddie Brookes, who had in fact played in the Springbok trials and was considered the second best wing in South Africa. There was no doubt he would have been included in the Springbok side but for a lack of residential qualification. English born he had only been in Rhodesia for four years. After the trials he took leave and visited the U. K. and was selected for this test, his only appearance for England. A Rhodesian Civil Servant by profession. He was an outstanding all round sportsman playing provincial rugby, cricket and soccer for Rhodesia, holding the 100-yard title in athletics as well as the national long jump record. For 4 years he was national Tennis singles champion as well as holding the men’s and mixed doubles title. At the age of 47 in 1930 he was still good enough to represent what was then Salisbury in the first inter-town squash tournament.
- The Carolin Papers ; as above
In the days before teams were flown around this country South Africa had an advantage with distance and altitude which we used to good advantage. In 1949 between the First Test in Cape Town and the second at Ellis Park in Johannesburg we packed the New Zealanders off by train to what was then Rhodesia forcing them to spend 8 out of 11 nights on the train. On their way back their train collided, in the middle of the night, into the rear of a Goods Train. This caused some players to be thrown out of the upper bunks, with one player, Charlie Willocks, a forward, so badly damaged his shoulder that it affected him for the rest of the tour. And these day’s they complain of a bit of food poisoning.
-Bob Scott Story by R. W. H. Scott and T. P. Mclean 1956
On another occasion, but much earlier, one of the first British Isles sides to tour this country arrived in Cape Town on the mailship mid morning on the Thursday after nearly three weeks at sea. The first fixture was against the Town Clubs which was effectively Western Province, then on the Tuesday the tourists played Country Clubs, which was effectively Boland. Two days later on the Thursday the fixture was against the Cape Colony which was in effect a combined Western Province, Boland, South Western Districts, Eastern Province, Border and Griqualand West side.
- History of South African Rugby Football by I. D. Difford 1933
We are always told that in the good old days the game was completely amateur. In 1919 a New Zealand Service Team visited us on their way home after the First World War. The people of Kimberley were so pleased to see them that the popular visitors were individually presented with medallions of South African gold; each inset with a diamond from the local mines. There is no record whether this was ever brought to the attention of the International Rugby Board.
- Rugby in South Africa. A History 1861 – 1988 by Paul Dobson
In the era before neutral referees, V. H. (Boet) Neser set a record in this country which is unlikely ever to be broken. Boet refereed 9 tests in this country involving the Springboks including all four against the 1928 All Blacks. A talented sportsman himself, whilst attending Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar he gained his ‘blue’ in 1919 as a flank forward and the following year due to injuries he played fly half playing so well that he scored one try and made another in his sides victory. He also obtained his colours for cricket and on his return to South Africa captained his country from wicketkeeper against the 1924/25 English tourists. Off the field he was equally talented for on his death he was a Supreme Court Judge of the Transvaal Division based in Pretoria.
- Wisden Book of Cricketer’s Lives – Compiled by Benny Green 1986.
1. 1896 TO 1956 THE SPRINGBOKS WERE UNBEATEN IN TEST SERIES – 60 YEARS
2. LIGHTEST SPRINGBOK : BILLY SENDIN - 1921 TOUR TO AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND - 60Kg’s
3. THREE OLDEST CLUBS IN SOUTH AFRICA : HAMILTONS – C.T. (1875), VILLAGERS -C.T. (1875) AND BUFFALO’S – BORDER (1877)
4. AVERAGE WEIGHT OF 1906/7 SPRINGBOK FORWARDS – 84Kg’s
5. SOUTH AFRICAN RUGBY BOARD FORMED 1889, FIFTEEN YEARS AFTER THE RUGBY BOARD OF INDIA
6. FIRST TEST 1949 VS NEW ZEALAND ALL 15 PLAYERS WERE NEW CAPS PLAYING IN THEIR FIRST TEST
7. THE MORKEL FAMILY OF SOMERSET WEST PRODUCED 10 SPRINGBOKS FROM 1903 TO 1928
8. YOUNGEST SPRINGBOK : JACK HARTLEY - 1891, A WING, WAS 18 YEARS AND 18 DAYS ON DEBUT
9. LONGEST SPRINGBOK CAREER – 13 YEARS 1891 TO 1903: BARRY HEATLIE (W. P.) AND J. M. POWELL (G. W.)
10. BOY LOUW, SPRINGBOK FORWARD 1928 TO 1938, PLAYED IN ALL 8 FORWARD POSITIONS, IN MATCHES FOR SOUTH AFRICA
11. FIRST BRITISH SIDE TO SOUTH AFRICA CONSISTED OF 21 PLAYERS AND THEY PLAYED 20 GAMES IN 60 DAYS LOSING JUST ONE
12. FIRST SIDE IN 1903 TO REPRESENT PRETORIA (BLUE BULLS) CONTAINED 6 NEW ZEALANDERS.