Emergence of the Giants

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Second Test against New Zealand, 1949, Ellispark


There was no international rugby from 1939 to 1949 when Fred Allen brought a fine All Black side to South Africa to resume battle with the Springboks. South Africa scraped home unconvincingly 15 –  11 in the first test at Newlands – five penalties by Okey Geffin against a goal, a drop kick and a penalty. This was a huge psychological victory for the All Blacks. 

1949 Springboks
Felix du Plessis leads his team onto the field

For the second test a number of changes were made to the Springbok team. The great Floors Duvenage did not combine well with Tjol Lategan in the Newlands test and was moved to the wing to make room for the hard tackling Ryk van Schoor alongside Lategan. Scrumhalf Ballie Wahl was also dropped for Fonnie du Toit and the second test would see establishment of the great combinations of Tjol Lategan and Ryk van Schoor in the midfield with Brewis and Du Toit on their inside. This foursome would become great legends of Springbok rugby. To top it all, the team for the second test now also included two new caps in prop Chris Koch and lock Salty du Rand – two of the all time greats amongst the Springbok forwards. This test thus saw the introduction to the international rugby theatre of six giants of Springbok rugby.

1949 Springbok Centres
Ryk van Schoor and Tjol Lategan


In this game the Springboks played very good rugby – much better than in the first test. The forwards secured far more ball and the backline were in an enterprising, attacking mood. The All Blacks drew first with a penalty by Bob Scott and followed-up with sustained attack. Jack van der Schyff drove them back with a 70 yard touch kick though. When the All Blacks were penalised in a scrum Okey Geffin kicked his sixth consecutive penalty in international rugby. Lategan made a lovely break and when confronted by full-back Scott he kicked over his head, but Scott got to the ball first. Both Geffin and Bob Scott missed penalties. Then Ryk van Schoor broke through in the centre and when tackled got immediately to his feet. He picked uop the ball and passed to Salty du Randt who gave it to Hennie Muller and then to Bubbles Koch who unfortunately dropped the ball.

The Boks were playing outstanding rugby at this stage. What followed was one of the classic tries in Springbok history. From a scrum near the All Black 25 Hannes Brewis set himself up for a drop, but when Grant blocked his way he changed his mind and shot round the blindside. He then wanted to pass, then wanted to kick for touch, but in both instances hung onto the ball until he reached the line to score a brilliant individualistic try. This was undoubtedly the “try of the series”. Geffin missed the conversion. Lategan then put Van Schoor away but the referee called them back for a forward pass. Halftime: 6 – 3.

Hannes Brewis
Hannes Brewis scores his famous try at Ellispark in 1949

In the second half the Springboks continued their onslaught on the All Black line. The forwards dribbled on, and when the ball got stuck Du Rand hooked it out. Fonnie du Toit gave immediately to Hennie Muller  who had come into the line. From him it went to Brewis, and then to Lategan who streaked through the gap with Ryk van Schoor and Cecil Moss on his outside. When the defence went for those two, Lategan cut through on the inside to score a great try.

The All Blacks responded by going on the attack with meaning, but could not score. They attempted a penalty but the kick was short. The Springboks failed to find touch and fly-half Kearney took the ball and kicked a fine drop. Soon afterwards Brewis also landed a drop a drop and the score was 12 – 6 (the final score). Just on time the All Blacks heeled from a scrum and sent their backs away. Fred Allen sent Elvidge through the gap and he made good ground before he passed to Meates on the wing who looked as though he was going to score, but Jack van der Schyff managed to push him into touch on the Springbok 25. 

This was one of the great Springbok – All Black clashes and some very good rugby was played by both sides. The Springboks, however, were really outstanding and unbeatable on the day.

*Written by Willem Frost

Real Rugby

Real Rugby

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