Six sensational Wellington encounters
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Springboks and the All Blacks have met 14 times in Wellington, notorious for its wind.
They are at it again this Saturday, where the forecast is sunny but “breezy” – which is New Zealand speak for blowing a gale.
The two great rugby nations have met 14 times in Wellington. The All Blacks have won nine times, the Springboks four times and the first was a draw.
The first seven of the 14 matches were at Athletic Park, which was up on the hill to get the full force of the wind blowing down onto New Zealand’s capital city.
The next seven have been played at Westpac Stadium down at the harbour, near the city centre. Known as the Cake Tin, Westpac Stadium was built in 1999 and is the venue for this year’s (only) Rugby Championship match between New Zealand and South Africa.
Every match between Springboks and All Blacks carries a story worth telling.
We have chosen just six of the 14, mostly from the Athletic Park days, matches beyond living memory!
Let’s start in 1921.
1. New Zealand vs South Africa at Athletic Park on 17 September 1921
The Springboks toured New Zealand, the first rugby contact between Springboks and All Blacks at national level. (There had been contact during and after the Anglo-Boer War and again during and after World War I, but not by national teams, All Blacks and Springboks.)
By 1921 the All Blacks and the Springboks were acknowledged as the world’s strongest rugby teams, and the tour was seen as a sort of play-off. It was a three-Test series. New Zealand won the first Test 13-5 in Dunedin and South Africa won the second 9-3 in Auckland, and it was all to play for in Wellington.
Wellington was wetter and windier than usual, the field awash with water, described by the Springbok Tokkie Scholtz as “a lake with the occasional patch of mud showing here and there like raisins in a poor man’s Christmas pudding”.
South Africa had the better of the first half with the help of the wind, New Zealand the better of the second half with the help of the wind, as the players struggled to stay on their feet and just to see one another.
Both sides had chances to score. Gerhard Morkel hit the upright with a penalty, Mannetjies Michau lost the ball over the line and Bill Zeller missed a drop. On his deathbed Keith Siddels believed that he had scored but referee Albert Neilson did not think so. Jack Steel slipped and fell when he seemed certain to score.
And so the score was 0-0, the first of three draws in 97 matches between the two countries.
And after the match the toast was: “Until we meet again.”
That is all delightfully innocent but just before the Wellington Test, the Springboks played the Maori in Napier and after the match a journalist, Charles Blackett, sent a cabled report to South Africa in which he was critical of the way the “New Zealand Natives” played and the “European” spectators who cheered on “a band of coloured men to defeat members of their own race”. The cable was made public in New Zealand and caused much upset that was to last till 1992 – 71 years.
New Zealand: CN Kingstone, J Steel, KD Ifwersen, MF Nicholls, SK Siddels, WR Fea, EJ Roberts (captain), EA Bellis, J Richardson, AL McClean, AH West, CJC Fletcher, WD Duncan, JEW Moffitt, R Fogarty
South Africa: PG Morkel, AJ van Heerden, CduP Meyer, SSF Strauss, WC Zeller, JS de Kock, JP Michau, WP Morkel (captain), AP Walker, MC Ellis, JA Morkel, GW van Rooyen, NJ du Plessis, PJ Mostert, FW Mellish
They met again in South Africa in 1928, when the series was drawn and the toast remained: “Till we meet again.”
Again was in 1937 when New Zealand won at Athletic Park and South Africa won in Christchurch and Auckland to break the deadlock.
The deadlock took further destruction in 1949 when the Springboks won the series 4-0, thus ensuring that New Zealand was on a war footing in 1956 when the Springboks toured. New Zealand won the first, South Africa the second at Athletic Park and New Zealand the third, thus winning a series against South Africa for the first time.
In 1960, the last all white All Blacks lost the series, touring in the face of increasing opposition to Maori-less team in South Africa.
In 1965, there was hope – at least in Dr Craven’s heart – that the All Blacks would be allowed to choose their own team in 1967, but there was to be a rude awakening.
The Springboks had lost five Tests in a row when they faced New Zealand in the first Test
- Conitnue below video …
2. New Zealand vs South Africa at Athletic Park on 31 July 1965
It was no surprise that it was cold, windy and wet at Athletic Park and New Zealand played with the wind in the first half and they scored two tries in the half.
For the first, new cap Bill Birtwistle on the wing took a pass from fullback Mick Williment on the blind side and scored in the corner. The second scorer was Kel Tremain and it was a controversial try for the Springboks believed that he had knocked on when tackled by Dawie de Villiers.
New Zealand led 6-0 and half-time but the Springboks had the advantage of the weather. Keith Oxlee dropped a goal but that was South Africa’s only score as Wilson Whineray’s mighty pack dominated.
For New Zealand:
Tries: Birtwistle, Tremain
For South Africa:
New Zealand: M Williment, WM Birtwistle, JL Collins, RE Rangi, it Smith, PH Murdoch, CR Laidlaw, BJ Lochore, RJ Conway, KR Tremain, ST Meads, CE Meads, KF Gray, BE McLeod, WJ Whineray (captain)
South Africa: LG Wilson, JP Engelbrecht. JL Gainsford, FduT Roux, GS Brynard, K Oxlee, DJ de Villiers (captain), JA Nel, JH Ellis, J Schoeman,, JP Naudé, FCH du Preez, AW MacDonald, GF Malan, CGP van Zyl
South Africa won the third Tests but before the fourth Test the prime minister HF Verwoerd made his notorious Loskop Dam speech to a cheering audience, in which he said that there would be no Maori in the New Zealand team to tour in 1967, cancelling the tour.
In 1970 South Africa allowed New Zealand to choose its own side. South Africa won the series.
Opposition to South African apartheid grew louder and more energetic until 1981 when New Zealand endured a civil war between supporters of the Springbok tour and those opposed to it. The opposition to the South Africans had gone beyond sport. After all, New Zealand was allowed to chose its own team and South Africa could now have racially mixed trials and Errol Tobias was a Springbok. The fight was now against apartheid and the Springboks were the South African group at hand against which disgust of apartheid could be expressed.
New Zealand won the first Test and the second was played in Wellington. The Springboks slept in the Athletic Park changing rooms before the match, the old place with its narrow passages which the visitors called the Grandstand Hotel, devoid of star ratings.
3. New Zealand vs South Africa at Athletic Park on 29 August 1981
Unsurprisingly, the rain fell and the wind blew, and the Springboks won 24-12, a match with only one try, scored by long-striding speedster Gerrie Germishuys who had come close to scoring earlier in the match. The other 20 South African points came off Naas Botha’s boot.
For South Africa:
Pens: Botha 5
For New Zealand:
Pens: Hewson 4
New Zealand: AR Hewson, SS Wilson, LM Cameron, ST Pokere, BG Fraser, DL Rollerson, DS Loveridge (MW Donaldson), MG Mexted, KW Stewart, MW Shaw, AM Haden, FJ Oliver, GAJ Burgess, AG Dalton (captain), JC Ashworth
South Africa: ZMJ Pienaar (JW Heunis), RH Mordt, W du Plessis (JJ Beck), DM Gerber, JS Germishuys, HE Botha, DJ Serfontein, W Claassen (captain), MTS Stofberg, J deV Visser, PR van der Merwe, WJH Kahts (RJ Cockrell), OW Oosthuizen
4. New Zealand vs South Africa at Athletic Park on 23 July 1994
Apartheid was over, Nelson Mandela was in charge, and the Springboks were welcome in New Zealand with no embarrassment in their baggage. And it was a tour, a 14-match tour. Sadly that first trouble-free tour was also the last tour.
The All Blacks won the first Test in Dunedin. The second of the three-match series was in Wellington which, unsurprisingly, was cold and wet.
New Zealand won. They scored two tries to nil and thoroughly deserved the 13-9 victory.
For the Springboks it was goodbye to the series which they drew 18-all in Auckland after scoring two tries to nil.
But that was not all. New Zealand television showed many times how Johan le Roux bit Sean Fitzpatrick’s ear and went home. Defeat was one thing; disgrace was worse.
For New Zealand:
Tries: Timu, Z Brooke
For South Africa:
Pens: Van Rensburg
New Zealand: SP Howarth, JKR Timu, FE Bunce(WK Little), AI Ieremia, JJ Kirwan, SJ Bachop, GTM Bachop, ZV Brooke (JHW Joseph), MR Brewer, BP Larsen, MSB Cooksley, RM Brooke, OM Brown, SBT Fitzpatrick (captain), RW Loe
South Africa: JTJ van Rensburg (AJ Joubert), JT Small, JC Mulder, B Venter, CM Williams, HP le Roux, JP Roux, AJ Richter, JF Pienaar (captain), CP Strauss, S Atherton, MG Andrews, JHS le Roux, J Allan, GR Kebble
There was a World Cup in 2011. The Springboks were thought to be playing B teams in the TriNations, for they were really preparing for the Rugby World Cup that year.
It sounds familiar.
New Zealand vs South Africa at Westpac Stadium on 30 July 2011
A penalty in the third minute put New Zealand 3-0 ahead. After three tries they led 18-7 at half time and then in the second half they scored three more tries for a 40-7 victory.
Come the World Cup, and the Springboks suffered the humiliation of elimination in the quarterfinal
For New Zealand:
Tries: Crockett, Guildford 2, Jane 2, Slade
cons: Carter 2
Pens: Carter 2
For South Africa
New Zealand: JM Muliania, CS Jane, CG Smith (SB Williams), MA Nonu (CR Slade), ZR Guildford, DW Carter, QJ Cowan (PAT Weepu), AJ Thompson, RH McCaw (captain), J Kaino (LJ Messam), AJ Williams, SL Whitelock (JMRA Hoeata), BJ Franks (IF Afoa), AK Hore (CR Flynn), WWV Crockett
South Africa: M Steyn (C McLeod), BA Basson (OM Ndungane), AA Jacobs (W Olivier), JL de Jongh, LN Mvovo, P Lambie, R Pienaar, DJ Rossouw, JR Deysel (AF Johnson), GJ Stegmann (AF Johnson), AJ Hargreaves, G Mostert (R Kankowski), W Kruger (CJ van der Linde), JM Smit (captain), MD Greyling (MC Ralepelle)
Then, lest we forget, the biggest score in matches between New Zealand and South Africa in Wellington – the extravagant match of 2018 when 10 tries and 70 points were scored.
New Zealand vs South Africa at Westpac Stadium, 15 September 2018
New Zealand scored and led 12-0 early in the match but the Springboks came back and led 24-17 at half-time. A try by Cheslin Kolbe pushed the scored up to 31-17.
With six minutes to play, Ardie Savea scored a try to make it 36-34. the conversion missed and the Springboks hung on for a 36-36 victory.
For New Zealand:
Tries: JN Barrett, AL Smith, Ioane 2, Savea
Cons: BJ Barrett 2
For South Africa:
Tries: Dyantyi 2, Le Roux, Marx, Kolbe
Cons: Pollard 4
New Zealand: JM Barrett (DS McKenzie), BR Smith, AR Lienert-Brown (EJ Goodhue), RS Crotty, RE Ioane, BJ Barrett, AL Smith (TTR Perenara), KJ Read (captain), Cane (AS Savea), LIJ Squire (PT Tuipulotu), SK Barrett, SL Whitelock, OT Franks (AOHM Tu’ungafasi), CJD Taylor (LJ Coltman), GK Tuinukuafe (TG Perry)
South Africa: WJ le Roux, JA Kriel, L Am (C Kolbe), D de Allende, ET Jantjies), AO Dyantyi, H Pollard, F de Klerk, WR Whiteley, P-S du Toit, S Kolisi (captain) (L-FP Louw), FJ Mostert, E Etzebeth (RG Snyman), JF Malherbe (WM Louw), MJ Marx (MT Mbonambi), S Kitshoff (T Mtawarira)
Back in 2019
These are players who appeared on the field in the last match above and are due back on the field on this Saturday.
New Zealand: Beauden Barrett, Ben Smith, Rieko Ioane, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, 5 Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, Thomas Perenara, Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
South Africa: Willie le Roux, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Handré Pollard, Faf de Klerk, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Bongani Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira, RG Snyman, Francois Louw, Cheslin Kolbe, Jesse Kriel.
New Zealand vs South Africa in Wellington – Results
1921: Draw 0-0 at Athletic Park
1937: New Zealand won 13-7 at Athletic Park
1956: South Africa won 8-3 at Athletic Park
1965: New Zealand won 6-3 at Athletic Park
1981: South Africa won 12-24 at Athletic Park
1994: New Zealand won 13-9 at Athletic Park
1998: South Africa won 13-3 at Athletic Park
2002: New Zealand won 41-20 at Westpac Stadium
2006: New Zealand won 35-17 at Westpac Stadium
2008: New Zealand won 19-8 at Westpac Stadium
2010: New Zealand won 31-17 at Westpac Stadium
2011: New Zealand won 40-7 at Westpac Stadium
2014: New Zealand won 14-10 at Westpac Stadium
2018: South Africa won 36-34 at Westpac Stadium