Book Review: The Waltzing Wallabies
This is Hans Saestad’s 10th book and it may just be his best, as he continues to make a marvellous contribution to South Africa’s rugby literature.
The Waltzing Wallabies deals with Australia’s 1933 rugby tour to South Africa, a manager and 29 players for 23 rugby matches and a cricket match in South Africa plus two rugby matches en route to South Africa. The tour lasted three months and six days and covered great distances from Salisbury to Cape Town. It was Australia’s second tour abroad and the only five-Test series in rugby’s history.
The Wallabies were young and athletic, and their rugby was adventurous. That made them most popular tourists and engendered much home criticism of the Springboks and their forward-based approach.
Springbok rugby could claim to be the strongest in the world at the time but the series score in 1933 was just 3-2 in their favour. Just the names of some of the Springboks tells a story of the calibre of player involved – Danie Craven, Bennie Osler, Flip Nel, Boy and Fanie Louw, Gerry Brand, Jimmy White and Pierre de Villiers – men to take on the world.
It certainly is a tour well worth recording, and Saestad has done the tour proud.
It is a beautiful book and a comprehensive coverage of the tour – the matches, the players’ profiles, the trials before the tour and the statistics of players and matches at the tour’s end. Along with all of this is an astonishing array of illustrations which make it a colourful book. Each match has a context, a detailed report, and the names of the teams, the referee and the scorers.
It is a beautiful book in every way with lots interesting bits – how Osler’s reacted to not being chosen as captain and his fatal reaction to criticism of the conservative Springboks,, the wing picked for South Africa who withdrew because of a boil and never became a Springbok, the Springbok wing who had played for Ireland the year before, the efforts made to contain the fighting on the field, why there were five tests, the colours the teams wore, and more.
Both countries held trials and the trail details are there.
It is certainly a book worth having and is obtainable only from Hans Saestad. His email address: email@example.com.
Price: R480 plus postage. There are also 20 copies in semi-leather, a deluxe edition which is numbered and not more than 20 copies will be printed. It costs R580 plus postage.
Title: The Waltzing Wallabies
Author: Hans Saestad
Published by Hans Saestad
Hard cover (case lining) or leather cover
Illustrated throughout in colours and black and white