After the trails for the selection of a Springbok side to tour the United Kingdom in 1931 the general feeling among selectors was that another equally strong Springboks side could easily be selected. That is a second Springbok team of almost equal ability that could potentially challenge if not beat the side that was selected to tour.
A tour was consequently arranged for these unlucky players to Argentina and the team was officially called the Gazelle. This tour took place in 1932 under the management of Paul Roos and the captaincy of Joe Nykamp. The side consisting of uncapped players wore blue shirts emblazoned with springbok head, red stockings and white shorts. They played eight matches; won all of them and scored 269 points with only 24 points scored against them. The two matches against a representative Argentinian side the Gazelles won 42-0 and 34-3 respectively. Gimnasia y Esgrima, a club coached and captained by B.H Heatlie gave the South African Gazelles stern opposition and lost by only 11-5 in the last game of the tour. Heatlie was the man who captained South Africa in their first ever international against a British touring side.
Without making any overgenerous assertions about the ability of this first Gazelle side Paul Roos said afterwards that the best fifteen ‘would have given any South African provincial team more than a good run for their money’.
The team that went on this historic tour were: D Jordaan (OFS); J Vlok (WP); J Cunningham (Rhod); R.S. Elliot (N); J.H. Gage (OFS); I Townsend (WP); R Cornell (Bor); K Moodie (WP); P McCarthy (GW, Vice-captain); B Nolte (WP); J Gillett (Bor); A Smit (WP); R.S. Cheshire (Bor); M Rest (OFS); H Wardrop (SWD); J Seymour (N); L Hattingh (OFS); W Wollheim (WP); J Robertson (Bor); J Nykamp (T, Captain); A Gerricke (GW); G D’Alton (WP); J Aspey (WP). Manager: Paul Roos. Referee G Finlay (T).
Two of these players became Springbok test players and three Springbok tourists.
|Jack Gage||George D’Alton|
Jack Gage and George D’Alton played for the Springboks in a test against Australia in 1933. J Vlok, J Seymour and J Aspey went with the famous 1937 Springboks side to New Zealand but did not play in any of the test matches. JT (John Travers) Apsey did howver played in three Test matches. His debut was against the touring Australians as eighthman in the 4th test at Crusader ground (PE) in 1933. He played in the following 5th test. He waited 5 years to play his third and final Test as flank against the touring British Lions in 1938.
After the 1949 trails a Gazelle team was selected for the second time in SA rugby history. The reason was yet again to provide an opportunity for players that missed out on selection for the Springbok side to play for a representative South African side. This side toured to Rhodesia in 1950 and played 5 matches of which they lost one against Mashonalan-Manicaland 14-26.
The results of that tour can be seen in the table below.
|8 July 1950||Rhodesia||Bulawayo||12 -11|
|11 July 1950||Matabeleland-midlands||Gwelo||17-6|
|15 July 1950||Rhodesia||Salisbury||14-3|
|19 July 1950||Mashonaland-Manicaland||Umtali||14-26|
|22 July 1950||Rhodesia||Nkana||24-14|
The 1950 Gazelle side that toured to Rhodesia were: AC Keevy (ET); JK Osche (WP); R Boyes (WP); O Haarhof (ET); M Gilmour (EP); D Retief (NTVL); D Fry (WP); H Joffe (OFS); G Muller (T); G Woodward (Bor); A du Plooy (EP); HJ Bekker (NTVL); W Louw (EP); S Pienaar (SWD); W Koch (Bol); SP Fry (WP); G Dannhauser (T); E Dinkelmann (NTVL); HN Walker (N); E Norton (EP, Captain); A Hummel (GW); J Morkel (WP). Manager: At Horak (OFS).
Sixteen of these players became Springboks according to Danie Craven (Rugby in South Africa). I was able to identify 10 (those in bold). Hopefully someone will be able to help identifying the others. I don’t think W Koch is Chris Koch who also played for Boland like the W Koch mentioned in the list above. Jakkals Keevy, George Dannhauser and Dennis Fry was tourist on the 1951/52 tour to the United Kingdom but never played in any test matches.
The idea to use the Gazelle team to develop future Springboks came to light in 1955 and the name Junior Springboks came into use. This policy (to select a Junior Springboks side) was direct result of the achievements of the 1932 and 1950 juniors but mostly due to the fact that 5 of the 1932 team and 16 of the 1950 team did eventually became Springboks. The basis for selection set in 1955 was: a player must be a prospective Springbok and must be young. Once a Junior Springbok he should become a Springbok, all things being equal (Craven, D.H. 1964. Rugby in South Africa – 1889 to 1964. Johnston and Neville. p. 216)
So in 1955 two Junior Springboks tours were organised through the interior of South Africa. The first tour during July 1955 under Danie Craven as manager and played three matches namely against Natal (9 July 1955 at Kingsmead – score 19-11), Central Universities (11 July 1955 at Maritzburg – score 31-14) and Rhodesia (16 July 1955 at Bulawayo – score 18-9).
The team that played in these matches were: J du Toit (WP); M Antelme (N); F Roux (T); J Nel (WP); D van der Spuy (Rh); W Rosenberg (T); L Nel (T); C Ulyate (T); T Gentles (WP); W Koch (Bol); J Wessels (OFS); W Wessels (ETVL); M Bekker (NTVL); P Pelser (T – Captain); J Claassen (WTVL); V Wilkins (NTVL); DSP Ackermann (WP); J Bahlman (Bor); D Retief (NTVL). Manager: Dr DH Craven.
The second team under management of Basil Kenyon played 5 matches in September 1995 against Western Transvaal, North Eastern Districts, Border, the 1955 British and Irish Lions and Northern Transvaal. Piet Pelser was the Captain of both these sides. The September tour resulted in two matches lost namely against the British and Irish Lions (15-12) and Border (28-22).
The second or September team was: D Holton (ETVL); (WP); M Antelme (N); F Roux (T); P Williams (T); P Montini (WP); J Nel (WP); J du Preez (WP); L Nel (T); F Gerricke (GW); P du Toit (WP); W Koch (Bol); J Wessels (OFS); M Bekker (NTVL); C de Wilzem (OFS); P Pelser (T – Captain); V Wilkins (NTVL); P van der Merwe (Bol); D van Jaarsveldt (Rh); R Johnstone (EP); GP Lochner (WP). Manager: Basil Kenyon.
The match against the 1955 British and Irish Lions was played in Bloemfontein on September 14 – midway between the Lions’ third and fourth Tests – and resulted in a narrow 15-12 win for the tourists.
Danie Craven writes in one of his books that the 3rd test had shown that the Springbok team was in need of strengthening in a few positions. The South African selectors were consequently keenly interested in quite a number of ‘juniors’. These include players like lock forwards Piet van der Merwe and Vic Wilkins, loose forwards Chris de Wilzem and Des van Jaarsveldt, scrumhalf Fred Gerricke as well as Jeremy Nel and Pat Montini in the centre. Everyone was expecting a fast open game but the juniors decided to keep it tight –‘soften’ them up in the forwards in the hope that the cracks will appear. Neither in the scrum nor in the line-out were the juniors however able to gain the upper hand. It was in the end a disappointing match with only Gerricke and Des van Jaarsveld impressing the selectors. Mannetjies Roux -who was considered a certainty on wing for the Springboks up to the Transvaal game against the Lions – scored an excellent try in the second half. Roux however had no change of making the Springbok team due to being totally outplayed by Tony O’Reilly when playing for Transvaal against the British and Irish Lions. The 19-year old O’Reilly went around Roux on a number of occations and scored two brilliant tries on that day. In his second try O’Reily accelerating like a racehorse went straight for the line from about 20 meters out dragging three transvaal players including Roux over the line for a brilliant try (see picture below).
The Juniors did not get enough ball and the possession they did got was kicked away by flyhalf Lance Nel. Though the scoring margin of 15-12 in the Lions favor suggests a close match it did not accurately reflect the difference between the two sides in all-round forward play and finesse behind the scrum, according to Craven.
Vivian Jenkins, who covered the Lions tour for the London Sunday Times, felt the match was akin to a fifth Test for the tourists and suggested that it should be dropped from future itineraries, arguing: “It is unfair to the visitors to ask them to take on such a stiff fixture on top of their other commitments.”
The opposite however happened. Due to the match against the 1955 British and Irish Lions it became policy to play the Junior Springboks against touring sides. In this way the Junior Springboks played against the Australians (1963, 1969), British and Irish Lions (1955, 1962, 1980, 1997 and 2009), French (1958), New Zealand (1960, 1970, 1976 and 1992), South American Jaguars (1980) and Ireland (1981) touring sides.
South Africa lost the rubber to New Zealand in 1956 and also to France in 1958. A Junior Springbok team was consequently dispatched to Argentina in 1959 to build up South African rugby. Kobus Louw was the manager and the Captain of the side was Peter Allen. The team that went on this 1959 tour was: C Meyer (WTVL); J Engelbrecht (WP); R Twigge (NTVL); O Taylor (N); J Gainsford (WP); N Bridger (T); F Roux (WP); C Holtzhausen (N); D Steward (WP); G Wentzel (EP); F Gerricke (T – Vice Captain); CM Smith (OFS); S Kuhn (T); D Putter (WTVL); D Holton (EP); D Edwards (Bor); J Wessels (T); P Allen (EP-Captain); P van Zyl (T); F de Jager (OFS); D Hopwood (WP); L Nel (T); W van Rensburg (NED); J Bezuidenhout (WTVL); H Meyer (OFS). Manager JF Louw. Assistant Manager: C Ackermann (Bol)
They played 13 matches won all 13 and scored 456 points with only 47 scored against them. The table below provides information about who they played; the venues and the scores.
|Date||Opposition||Venue||Points for||Points against|
|17 Aug 59||C.A.S.I||Esgrima||40||3|
|22 Aug 59||Buenos Aires||Esgrima||38||6|
|26 Aug 59||Olives||Esgrima||24||5|
|29 Aug 59||C.U.B.A||Esgrima||42||0|
|2 Sep 59||Belgrano||Esgrima||25||9|
|5 Sep 59||Provincia||Esgrima||27||3|
|9 Sep 59||Puerrydon||Esgrima||32||6|
|12 Sep 59||1st International||Esgrima||14||6|
|16 Sep 59||Rosario||Rosario||81||0|
|19 Sep 59||Capital||Esgrima||19||0|
|23 Sep 59||Francesa||Esgrima||21||3|
|30 Sep 59||Chile||Santiago||71||0|
|3 Oct 59||2nd International||Esgrima||20||6|
Argentina undertook non-Test tours of South Africa in 1965 and 1971, and the Gazelles toured Argentina in 1966 and 1972. The results of the matches played between the sides in those years were as follows (click on the links to see teams):
1965 – Junior Springboks 6-11 Argentina, Johannesburg
1966 – Argentina 3-9 Gazelles, Buenos Aires
1966 – Argentina 15-20 Gazelles, Buenos Aires
1971 – Gazelles 12-6 Argentina, Port Elizabeth
1971 – Gazelles 0-12 Argentina, Pretoria
1972 – Argentina 6-14 Gazelles, Buenos Aires
1972 – Argentina 18-16 Gazelles Buenos Aires
This is the complete team that toured to Argentina in 1972. Fifteen of this 1972 Gazelle side namely Paul Bayvel, Morné du Plessis, Dawie Snyman, Piet Cronje, Ray Carlson, Joggie Jansen, Niek Bezuidenhout, Gerrie Germishuys, Klippies Kritzinger, Kevin de Klerk, Dougald MacDonald, Jan Schlebush, Carel Fourie, Johan Strauss and Jackie Snyman became Springboks.
Jannie van Aswegen was the Captain of the 1972 side in this picture shows him in his Junior Springbok jumper
Carel Fourie (also known as Tossie) was a future Springbok that went on this tour. Here is Carel in his Junior Springbok jersey.
For a bit more info on the Puma South Africa rugby history read here.
The table below provides statistics of the Junior Springboks/Gazelle/Emerging Springboks against international touring sides. Those in blue provide match description (if you click on it).
|1955||British and Irish Lions||Bloemfontein||Lost 12-15|
|1958||France||Port Elizabeth||Won 9-5|
|1960||New Zealand||Durban||Lost 6-20|
|1962||British and Irish Lions||Pretoria||Lost 11-16|
|1970||New Zealand||Potchefstroom||Lost 25-29|
|1976||New Zealand||Port Elizabeth||Lost 15-21|
|1980||South American Jaguars||Pretoria||Lost 19-30|
|1980||British and Irish Lions||Johannesburg||Lost 6-17|
|1992||New Zealand||Pretoria||Lost 25-10|
|1997||British and Irish Lions||Wellington||Lost 51-21|
|2009||British and Irish Lions||Cape Town||Draw 13-13|
Interestingly, the 1968 and 1974 British and Irish Lions did not play against the Junior Springboks and neither did the 1967 French side. The 1974 British and Irish Lions did play a match against the Quagga Barbarians (which they almost lost 27-20) who was essentially a junior Springbok team.
For the 1980 match against Bill Beaumont’s Lions the team’s official title reverted to Junior Springboks lately they are referred to as the emerging Springboks.
Brief summary of the 1980 British and Irish Lions against the Junior Springboks
This picture shows Gavin Cowley trying to start something playing for the Junior Springboks against the 1980 British and Irish Lions.
The Gazelle also played against a combined and invitational side from the United States, the Cougars that toured South Africa and Zimbabwe in 1978. The Cougars played six games in South Africa: against Natal, Combined Universities, Griquas, Northern Transvaal, South African Gazelles and Rhodesia, and won once.
The picture below shows Rob Louw in action against the 1978 Cougars. The Cougar player directly behind Louw is Clarence Culpepper the captain of the 1978 Cougar team. The other Gazelle players on the picture from left to right are a young Schalk Burger senior, Ockie Oosthuizen and Martiens le Roux. Apart from the fact that Rob Lous scored a try and that the Gazelle team won I have no further info about this match.
Gazelle teams that played against the Jaguars in 1980 and against the All Blacks in 1992
|1980 team vs Jaguars||Positions||1992 team vs All Blacks|
|C du Plessis (Tvl)||15||Gerbrand Grobler (NTvl)|
|B Koch (WP)||14||Jacques Olivier (NTvl)|
|J v/d Heever (NTvl)||13||Heinrich Fuls (Tvl)|
|C du Plessis (WP)||12||Bernard Fourie (Tvl)|
|W Kirkham (Tvl)||11||Chris Badenhorst (OFS)|
|W Dirksen (NTvl)||10||Jannie de Beer (OFS)|
|M van Blommenstein (WP)||9||Joost v/d Westhuizen (NTvl)|
|JP Geldenhuys (WP)||8||Tiaan Strauss (WP – Captain)|
|J Wessels (OFS)||7||Botha Rousseau (WTvl)|
|B Geldenhuys (NTvl)||6||Ruben Kruger (OFS)|
|De Villiers-Visser (WP)||5||Drikus Hattingh (NTvl)|
|B Pienaar (NTvl – Capt)||4||Kobus Wiese (Tvl)|
|F Baartman (NTvl)||3||Piet Bester (GW)|
|C Rogers (Rhod)||2||Harry Roberts (Tvl)|
|P v/d Merwe||1||Johan Styger (OFS)|
|Prof D Swiegers||Manager|
|P Kruger (NTvl)||16|
|J Fenwick (WP)||17|
|F Weitsz (WP)||18||FC Smith|
|H Viljoen (NTvl)||19|
|R Whyte (N)||20|
|P Oosthuizen (WP)||21|
|Dr Johan Gouws||Referee|
It is interesting to notice the difference between the Gazelle team that played in 1980 against the Jaguars and the team that played in the same year against the British and Irish Lions. It is in essence two entirely different teams (compare the team above with the one in the picture showing Burger Geldenhuys).
The 1992 game against the All Blacks was a bit of a dissapointment. The Junior boks had no idea how to construct a try; how to build phases; the importance of dominating the advantage line and how to use starter moves to create forward momentum. Kick and charge was the basic game plan. In short they got outsmarted and outplayed in the line-out and at the breakdowns. It was a case of every player that get the ball just charged straight ahead trying to break through tackles. In most cases they then lost the ball forward when the All Blacks tackled in on the ball or they got rucked of the ball once they went to ground with the ball. Placing the ball in the tackle with supporting players that bridge over the ball was a foreign concept and they had really poor technique and discipline at the tackle ball. They kept falling over the ball and or lost the ball forward or came in from the sides and was as a consequence extensively penalized by the refefree. At once stage the refree actually lost his patience to such and extent that he started lecturing the South Afican players on the field.
The Junior Springboks also played against the 1986 Cavaliers and there was a match (one week after the 1991 Currie Cup final) between the Junior Boks and the Springboks. The match against the Cavaliers can be seen by clicking on the link below: