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10 July 1976 – SA Invitation XV 24 / All Blacks 31

Newlands, Cape Town. Weather, fine, dry, cool in the shade. Crowd 35 000.

The referee: Steve Strydom (Orange Free State).

The SA invitation XV side was assembled or finalized just two days before the match and was a blend of formidable players eight of which would later become Springboks. 

The team was: 15: Ronnie Louw; 14; John Noble; 11: Carel Fourie; 13: J Coetzer(Hans?); 12: De Wet Ras; 10: Gavin Cowley; 9: Divan Serfontein; 8: Wynand Claassen; 7: Theuns Stofberg; 6: Morgan Cushe; 5: Louis Moolman; 4: Moaner van Heerden; 3: Broadness Cona; 2: John Trollope 1: Richard Prentis.

The All Black team for this match was: 15: Kit Fawcett; 14: Bryan Williams; 11: Grant Batty; 13: Bruce Robertson; 12: Joe Morgan; 10: Doug Robertson; 9: Sid Going; 8: Alan Sutherland; 7: Kevin Eveleigh; 6: Ian Kirkpatrick; 5: Peter Whiting; 4: Hamish Macdonald; 3: Kent Lambert; 2: Tane Norton (Captain); 1: Brad Johnstone.

Before the game incidents/issues/stuff

Search the English language for words descriptive of amazement and admiration and you come up with the word “Cor”. A word/saying that originate from, “Cor Blimey!” derrived from the middle-aged expression “God, Blind Me!” used when someone saw something they shouldnt have. Commonly used in expressions by upper-class brits, etc, when in shock, suprised etc. mainly as a form of really stupid exaggeration. The word has a sort of double meaning namely genuine surprise but with a bit of mock irony or surprised sarcasm; how could someone be so stupid/disgusting/ignorant.

Morgan Cushe putting pressure on Sid Going. Cushe was one of many black and coloured players who demonstrated lots of natural talent and ability against the touring All Blacks of 1976.

Terry McLean entitled his section about this match “Cor!” I do get the feeling that he was genuine in his surprise and appreciation for after careful reading I can’t really point out traces of sarcasm in his remarks.

McLean was astonished and amazed by a number of things including the “sight of natural athleticism and superb natural talents” of the coloureds and black players playing in the curtain raiser and main match in particular Ronnie Louw; the sight of the invitation teams forwards in particular Louis Moolman, Theuns Stofberg, and Moaner van Heerden; “the prodigious punting” of the South African players; the kicking of de Wet Ras; the way Gavin Cowley bamboozled the All Black backs and forwards with boxer-like shifting of his feet; and lastly the quality of the match.

Gavin Cowley in process of executing a chip kick with Andy Leslie in pursuit. Cowley bamboozled the All Blacks with his foot work.

Run of the game

Time Event Score
21th minute De Wet Ras left-foot drop goal, 30 meters. 3-0
22nd minute Williams penalty goal, 31 meters. 3-3
25th minute Bruce Robertson try. 3-7
39th minute Bryan Williams penalty goal, 25 meters. 3-10
43rd minute De Wet Ras penalty, 31 meters. 6-10
45th minute De Wet Ras penalty, 36 meters. 9-10
47th minute Fourie try, de Wet Ras convert. 15-10
49th minute Fawcett penalty, 20 meters. 15-13
51st minute Bruce Robertson try, Williams convert. 15-19
54th minute De Wet Ras, penalty, 31 meters. 18-19
67th minute Fawcett try, Fawcett convert. 18-25
68st minute Van Heerden try, de Wet Ras convert. 24-25
78th minute Williams try, Fawcett convert. 24-31

About the match

The first points of the match came in the 21st minute when de Wet Ras wheeled out of a Joe Morgan tackle and from 30 meters out knocked over a left-footed drop goal. In the first 5 minutes of the second half, after a lineout penalty and an absurdly late tackle of Gavin Cowley by Kevin Eveleigh, de Wet Ras goaled from 35 and 40 meters to reduce the All Blacks half time lead to 10-9.

De Wet Ras who landed a left-foot drop goal to start the scoring in this match. Ras, in general, scared the living daylight out of the All Blacks with his prodigious punting and place kicking. Normally a No10 he played on the inside center in this match.

Then in the 47th minute Fawcett bobbled the ball forward while trying to run out of his 22. As he approached Carel Fourie he gave the ball and even larger bobble. It jumped forward into the hands of Fourie who sped through open field to score next to the goalposts. De Wet Ras converted for the Invitation XV to take the lead 15-10.

Carel Fourie who played on the wing in this match and scored the Invitation XV’s first try. Mclean has the following on Carel Fourie: “Fourie was a powerful wing who was not in the least fazed by Williams’ approaching sidesteps.”

The All Blacks showed great composure and regained the lead after a penalty by Fawcett and a try by Robertson which was converted by Williams. After another De Wet Ras penalty Fawcett scored and converted for New Zealand to lead 25-18.

Bruce Roberson scoring one of his two tries against the Invitation XV with Carel Fourie (according to the source) on his back and Gavin Cowley also too late. Notice Carel Fourie with No13. In the name list above he is No11 which is of course because that is the modern practice but in 1976 the inside centre was No11 and the wing No13. After some consideration and based on the fact that De Wet Ras had No12 on his back (see next photo) my conlusion is that No13 is probably J Coetzer and not Carel Fourie. The numbers in the backline changed round-about this time; in the tests the Springbok centers were in 11 and 12 while the All Black centers were wearing numbers 12 and 13.

Then after a good field kick into the All Blacks 25 -which Fawcett had extremely difficulty in fielding- the South African side forced a scrum. On the heel the moved to the blindside and Carel Fourie broke though a poor tackle by Joe Morgan to put Moaner van Heerden in for a try which de Wet Ras converted.

The match with 1 point in was building up to sensational climax when Williams sped infield to take a scissors pass from Duncan Robertson and cleave through densely-populated territory for a try only few meters from the side line.

The spectators went wild. It was the icing on the cake of a game of extraordinary excitement, marvelous fluidity and drama, writes Terry McLean.

McLean continues and ends his section on this match with this paragraph.

Newlands is pretty nearly a perfect ground for Rugby. Spectators are close to the touchlines, visibility is excellent, and the mood becomes rapturous. As Steve Strydom blew his whistle for the last time, 35 000 English and Afrikaner, African and Coloured South Africans –if they would only accept it, the whole jolly lot of them- turned to each other and metaphorically took the deepest of breaths. “Cor!” they said.

Bryan Williams here on the run with De Wet Ras and Wynand Claassen on the ground. Williams scored the last try in the 78th minute to bring an spectacular end to a thrilling match. No12 does look indeed like De Wet Ras which is a bit confusing because if he was the inside centre he should have been No11 as was the practice in those days.

After the game reactions/occurrences

The feeling in the All Black camp was that there were too many errors. Nevertheless, the All Blacks, especially when the lagged 10-15 with 29 minutes remaining and the Invitation pack pouring on the gas, displayed resilience, fortitude, resolution and, at scrimmage, maul and ruck, sound technical capabilities.

The All Blacks machine showed some good composure and displayed resilience and sound technical capabilities in a hard match against some future Springboks. Here Kirkpatrick (on his back) with Whiting, Sutherland, Brad Johnstone and Kevin Eveleigh chasing after the ball.

Picture showing Kevin Eveleigh and Brad Johnstone -two of the upcoming All Blacks stars who played for the 1976 All Black touring team- in action. Eveleigh is the one on his back with the pulled face.

“There was real pressure there”, said Peter Whiting. There was, too, writes McLean. In not a few respects, this looked to be the hardest test the All Backs of Stewart-Andy Leslie era had faced, so far. Boy, it was tough!

Theuns Stofberg, one of the future Springboks who played in this match and a player who impressed the All Blacks with his size, speed and capabilities.

Divan Serfontein on the break, another future Springbok who impressed with his general play and diving spiral pass.

One Response to 1976 All Black-tour – Fourth tour match

  • 1

    I can find no info on who was the Invitation XV’s Captain. Wynand Claassen look like the most obvious one to have captained the side but nobody is indicated as Captain in the three sources, I have, which mentions the teams. Maybe someone out there can remember who was the captain.


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