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The 1906-07 Springbok tour was a watershed in South African sport. It was was the first overseas tour by a South African rugby team and it was during this tour that the term 'Springboks' was coined for a South African team and for 'Springbok' to denote an individual who has represented South Africa.
Coming only four years after the terrible Boer War which divided the country, the tour was responsible for uniting the 'Afrikaaners' and the 'Colonials' in one cause, the defeat of the British rugby teams.
The 1906-07 tour firmly established the 'Boks amongst the world leaders of the rugby nations. Their first test match on the tour was against Scotland where they conceded defeat 6 - 0, Belfast was the location for their first victory on the road as they snatched a win against the Irish 15 - 12. The big test was a week later where at Swansea they defeated the much favoured Wales 11 - 0, then onto London for a draw with England which sealed the test series for the tourists. The last match of the tour was an emphatic 55 - 6 victory over France in Paris. For the next 50 years* the Springboks were never beaten in a test series at home or abroad and the Springbok emblem became feared by opponents worldwide. Victories during this period included 3 Grand Slam tours of the British Isles (1912, 1931-2, 1951-2), a series victory in New Zealand (1937), a 4 - 0 whitewash of the All Blacks (1949), 4 series victories over the Wallabies (1933, 1937, 1953, 1956) and 3 series victories over the British & Irish Lions (1910, 1924 & 1938).
*All Blacks defeated the Springboks 3 -1 in the test matches of the 1956 tour of New Zealand
Illustrated above - 1906-07 Springboks limited edition print - for more information CLICK HERE
27th September - Match 1 v East Midlands at Northampton, won 37 - 0
As Paul Roos led his men onto the field to play the East Midlands a crowd of 6,000 settled themselves for the unknown. This was the first time that a team from South Africa had ever toured, their first match outside the continent of Africa. The men in green were not much fancied and in the first fifteen minutes mistakes were rife as the Midlands men pressed and put the South Africans under pressure. The Springboks were suffering from nerves but once Anton Stegmann dashed over for the Springboks first try, all signs of nervousness left and the Springboks went on to thrash the East Midlands by 37 points to Nil. Stegmann scored 4 tries in total, other try scorers were Hirsch (2), De Villiers (2) and Loubser. Paddy Carolin converted 4 and Douglas Morkel 1.
Line-out action during the East Midlands match
|29th September - Match 2 v Midlands at
Leicester, won 29 - 0
News of the Springboks spread and a greatly increased crowd of 15,000 turned up at Leicester to watch Roos and his men. The home side appeared on paper to be stronger opposition, The England captain VH Cartwright led the side which included five Leicester players in the pack. The Springboks took up where they left off against the East Midlands and within five minutes crossed the line with a try by Mare converted by Carolin. Further tries were added by Paddy Carolin (2), Douglas Morkel, and Sydney de Melker, Carolin converted two, Dougie Morkel one, while both Carolin and Boy de Villiers dropped goals. The Springboks ran out 29 - 0 winners, the points totals so far being South Africans 66 points, opposition, 0 points. Already comparisons were being made with the All Black team of the previous year who had beaten the Midlands side 21 - 5.
Cartwright tosses the coin for Roos to call (when he wakes up !)
|October 3rd - Match 3 v Kent at
Blackheath, won 21 - 0
Kent proved to be a much sterner task for the Springboks than the score line suggests. In the early stages the play was even with Kent proving a difficult nut to crack. At the turn around, South Africa were three points up, these coming from a try by Carolin, run in from 30 yards out. The second half saw the Kent captain BA Hill leave the field with a shoulder injury. With the home team a man down the Springboks managed to press home this advantage, brilliant running and passing enabled Stegmann, Loubser, Millar & Reid to score tries, Mare converted 2 and Carolin 1. This was the first 'hard' game of the tour for the Springboks but their line was yet to be crossed. So far on tour, South Africa had scored 87 points, the opposition 0.
|October 6th - Match 4 v Durham at West
Hartlepool, won 22 - 4
The game was but five minutes old when Durham player Neilson left the field after a heavy tackle, the home team played the remainder of the match with 14 men. Despite this early loss the Northerners managed to drop a goal to become the first team to score against the Springboks. This created an impressive double as they were also the first team to score a try against the 1905 All Blacks (later on in the tour Devon were to reverse this feat, first points against the All Blacks, first try against the Springboks). The South Africans immediately replied through a try by Reid, converted by Carolin. The Springbok three-quarters were irresistible and Raaff crossed the Durham line with Carolin again converting. Despite being a man down the home team pressed hard but after some good forward work the visitors worked their way up the field and Carolin dropped a goal to take the 'Boks over 100 points for the tour and the half time score 14 - 4. The second half saw both teams again on the offensive, the Springboks failed to break the resolute Durham defence until Loubser and then Stegmann crossed for late tries, Morkel converting the latter. To date this was the Springboks sternest test. So far on tour, South Africa had scored 109 points, the opposition 4.
|October 10th - Match 5 v Northumberland at
Newcastle, won 44 - 0
The Springboks scored their highest points total to date in this match at St James' Park. A fine exhibition of back play saw Loubser and Japie le Roux scoring three tries each, other try scorers were Brink, Pietie le Roux, Burdett, Hirsch & Krige. Both Jackson & Roos converted two a piece.
|October 13th - Match 6 v Yorkshire at
Leeds, won 34 - 0
The Springboks met a strong Yorkshire side at Headingley. Once again they were victorious by a large margin, scoring 34 points without reply. Tries by Stegmann (2), P le Roux & Carolin saw the 'colonials' 22 points ahead at the break, a penalty, the first of the tour and conversion by Carolin were the other scores. The second half saw the Yorkshire men tighten their defence, Carolin slotted another penalty and scored a try, the remaining scores were tries by Hirsch & Martheze.
|October 17th - Match 7 v Devon at
Devonport, won 22 - 6
Devon were the champion county of England and with inclement weather in the days leading up to the match, this meant that the colonial team had to play on a heavy ground with a slippery ball for the first time. The men in green came through this test with outstanding form by Dobbin who scored two tries, Stegmann & Martheze completed the try scoring with Morkel converting two and adding two penalty goals. E.W. Roberts of Devon became the first player to score a try against the touring Springboks.
Douglas Morkel's distinctive kicking style earned him 10 points in this match
|October 20th - Match 8 v Somerset at
Taunton, won 14 - 0
Both Somerset and South Africa were below strength for this encounter at Taunton. Resting for the Springboks were the captain Roos, Carolin, Marsberg & Stegmann. Early on the game the tourists lost Burmeister with fractured ribs and had to pull Sommie Morkel from the scrum to cover him. The Springboks led at half time 11 - 0 despite intense pressure from the Somerset forwards. The points coming from tries by Loubser and Burger, one was converted by Mare who also opened the scoring with a penalty. In the second period Somerset went close to scoring on several occasions and only poor kicking and resolute tackling held them at bay. Towards the end Pietie le Roux went over for a try to make the final score 14 - 0.
Pietie le Roux, scored the final try for the tourists
|October 24th - Match 9 v Middlesex at
Richmond, won 9 - 0
A cosmopolitan Middlesex team lined up to face the Springboks at Richmond, amongst the Middlesex men were Jim Louwrens the South African College scrum half of 1901, three of the Welsh team to be, Harding, Jenkins & Williams and Scottish international Geddes, these 'internationals' joined forces with the Englishmen to take on the Springboks. The match referee was Cartwright, captain of the Midlands team that faced the colonial XV earlier in the tour. The South African's won the game by their narrowest score so far in the tour 9 - 0. A penalty by Douglas Morkel and try by Brink made the half time score 6 - 0. In the second half the only points came from a try by Loubser.
|October 27th - Match 10 v Newport at
Newport, won 8 - 0
The severest test for the tourists was always going to be their time in Wales. For their first match in the Principality the mighty Newport were to be the opponents. Captained by Welsh international Charlie Pritchard, the Newport team gave the Springboks their hardest match to date but were not good enough to end the tourists unbeaten run. All the points came in the first half from two tries by Stegmann and a conversion by Morkel.
|October 31st - Match 11 v Glamorgan at
Cardiff, won 6 - 3
A crowd of 25,000 turned up hoping to see Glamorgan triumph over the tourists. With 10 Welsh internationals in the team this was surely to be the tourists toughest match outside of the internationals. From the kick off the South Africans went straight into the attack and after only 8 minutes found themselves 6 points to the good, with two tries from the prolific Stegmann. The crowd could have forgiven for thinking that the Springboks were on their way to yet another run away victory, but the Glamorgan men were made of sterner stuff. They fought back and held the Springboks scoreless for the rest of the game. Turning around still six points in arrears the county side proceeded to pressurise the tourists continuously throughout the second half. Such was their dominance that the Springboks only managed two excursions into the Glamorgan half during those 40 minutes. Dai Jones pulled back three points with a try after Teddy Morgan had crossed kicked and Bert Winfield's easiest of conversion attempts was charged down. The South African defence held out for the rest of the match, special praise went to full back Marsberg who played a magnificent game.
Stegmann on his way to scoring
|November 3rd - Match 12 v Gloucestershire
at Gloucester, won 23 - 0
This match saw Tom Richards, one of rugby's great adventurers line up against the Springboks. Amazingly Richards was an almost certain selection for the tour party prior to the tour. He was playing for the Mines and Transvaal but was ruled as ineligible for the tourists because he had not been in South Africa long enough to qualify as a resident. Incredibly he went on to represent both the Wallabies (1908 tour) and the British Lions (1910 he was back in SA and was called up as a replacement for Dr Tom Smythe's team), he is the only person ever to have achieved this feat. The Springboks found Gloucestershire an easier proposition after their week in Wales with a 23 point victory. Five tries were scored, three by Japie le Roux and one a piece to Loubser and Krige, Carolin converted two and dropped a goal (a dropped goal was worth 4 points in 1906).
|November 7th - Match 13 v Oxford
University at Oxford, won 24 - 3
The first of the Universities to meet the Springboks was Oxford and with 6 of the University team having played their football in South Africa and with another being a South African born player, there was much interest in the outcome of the match. It was a case of the Springbok backs being too good for the University and by half time the tourists were 15 points to the good. Another nine was added in the second half with Oxford replied with a penalty goal.
Springbok & Oxford teams line up prior to kick off
|November 10th - Match 14 v Cambridge
University at Cambridge, won 29 - 0
Springbok & Cambridge teams line up prior to kick off
Over 9000 spectators saw a scintillating display by the Springboks against Cambridge. From the time that Loubser scored the first try after 4 minutes the tourists dominated the scholars to win by 29 points to nil. The scorers for South Africa were Mare 1try, 4 conversions, Loubser 2 tries, Jackson 2 tries, Krige & Stegmann a try a piece.
|November 13th - Match 15 v South of
Scotland at Hawick, won 32 - 5
The tourists arrived in Scotland full of confidence, with 14 wins tucked neatly under their belt they rested several top players in lieu of their first international on the forthcoming weekend. The Mansfield Park crowd were not disappointed with the play of the visitors as the tourists continued their rout of the provincial teams with an outstanding victory over the South. Tries were scored by Loubser (3), Hirsch (2), Dobbin, Martheze & Brooks, Mare and Jackson bagged a pair of conversions each.
|November 17th - Match 16 v Scotland at
Hampden Park, Glasgow, lost 0 - 6
After the match at Hawick the South Africans journeyed to Glasgow where they were to meet the mighty Scotland. The heavily sodden ground was to be a telling factor in the Springboks first defeat of the tour. The Scots dominated the forward struggle while the South African backs waited patiently for a ball that was rarely to come their way. Tries by Macleod and Purves gave the Scots a well deserved victory.
|November 20th - Match 17 v North of
Scotland at Aberdeen, won 35 - 3
The defeat by Scotland proved to be a minor glitch in the Springbok march to supremacy. The tourists steamrollered a North of Scotland side at Aberdeen, winning by a clear 32 points. Joining the party late was original selection Steve Joubert who's late arrival was due to scholastic commitments. Tries for the Springboks were scored by Marsberg (3), De Melker (2), Millar, Jackson, Burdett & Hirsch. Joubert converted 3 with Douglas Morkel slotting a solitary conversion.
|November 24th - Match 18 v Ireland at
Belfast, won 15 - 12
One week after their first international the South Africans met the Irish international XV on the Balmoral Ground in Belfast. On a firm and fast ground the tourists overcame the host team by a narrow margin 15 - 12. Inspired by the play of captain Roos the 'Boks led 12 - 3 at half time, the points coming from a penalty goal and three tries (Loubser 2, & Krige). The tourists again applied the pressure early in the second half and they were unlucky not to increase their lead, the Irish defence proving a difficult nut to crack. The men of the Emerald Isle struck back with a penalty goal and two tries to draw level on points, the final word however, came from the South Africans as Stegmann crossed for the final score of the match.
Joubert makes an attempt at goal
|November 27th - Match 19 v Dublin
University at Dublin, won 28 - 3
From Belfast the Springboks travelled to the Irish capital where they met the fellows of Dublin University at Lansdowne Rd. With the Welsh international following this match, the Springboks rested some of their key players, Roos, Krige, Loubser & Stegmann all stepped down. The tourists were too strong for the students and ran in eight tries by Martheze (3), Carolin, Marsberg, De Villiers, Jackson & Morkel, Carolin had an off day with the boot converting only two of these. The team then travelled to Wales with the papers predicting victory for the home team.
The Dublin University team line up with the Springboks
|December 1st - Match 20 v Wales at
Swansea, won 11 - 0
As with the All Blacks a year earlier this was the big one, the ultimate test for the Springboks. Wales were in the middle of a golden era, a decade that saw them record 5 triple crowns (1900, 02, 05, 08, 09) but they had shown weakness losing their last international 11 - 6 to Ireland in Belfast.
The polished passing and fearless dash of the Springboks ensured that they won easily with 3 tries by Joubert, Loubser & Raaff with Joubert converting one.
The Springbok captain summed up the surprise of the tourists at such a victory "We had never hoped for such a win, We went on the field not knowing what the result would be, but determined to put up the best that was in us and leave the results to the gods". The Springboks feat gained recognition from the home supporters who shouldered both Roos & Marsberg off the field.
|December 8th - Match 21 v England at
Crystal Palace, drew 3 - 3
Even though the Springbok's had a week's rest after the Welsh game, the side was still weakened by injuries, mostly in the backs. A soft, heavy ground would favour the English but despite this the tourists were first on the score sheet with a try by Millar. Leading by three points at the turn around the Springboks were soon put at a disadvantage when they lost Douglas Morkel through injury. The home team equalised through a try by Brooks, the conversion by Cartwright sailed wide of the uprights. The score remained at 3 points apiece and the South Africans ended their first ever test series abroad with two wins, one loss and a drawn game. It was to take 50 years before the Springboks were to find themselves second best in a test series (New Zealand 1956)
|December 12th - Match 22 v Lancashire at
Manchester, won 11 - 8
The effects of playing 4 test matches in as many weeks was plain to see as the Springboks lacked their usual brilliance around the field. Loubser and Jackson scored first half tries, with Morkel converting one for an eight point lead at half time. Lancashire pressurised the tourists immediately on resumption of play and CE Allen went over for a try. This was converted by his brother JM Allen to bring the red rose county to within 3 points of the South Africans. The South African lead was then extended with a try by captain Roos, Slocock replied with a try for the home side to take the final score to 11 - 8 in favour of the visitors.
'Bob' Loubser - scorer of a first half try
|December 15th - Match 23 v Cumberland at
Carlisle, won 21 - 0
After struggling against Lancashire the Springboks returned to their comfortable winning ways with an easy victory over Cumberland at Carlisle. Tries were scored by Japie le Roux (3), De Villiers & Hirsch, Douglas Morkel converted two with Paddy Carolin slotting over another conversion. This match was notable in that it was the only appearance throughout the tour of Andrew Morkel, in this match he played a fine game and would have been prominent throughout the tour if it were not for his injuries.
|December 19th - Match 24 v Surrey at
Richmond, won 33 - 0
Another brilliant display by the South Africans saw off the last of the metropolitan counties. Despite the drizzle and mist the Richmond ground was in tip top condition allowing the tourists to score freely when in possession. Touch downs were recorded by Loubser (2), De Villiers, Hirsch, Japie Le Roux, Dobbin and Douglas Morkel. The latter converted four while Carolin dropped a goal. This was to be Carolin's last match of the tour after he picked up an injury in this game.
Try scorer - John Hirsch
|December 22nd - Match 25 v Cornwall at
Redruth, won 9 - 3
The match against Cornwall at Redruth proved a difficult one for the Springboks, Cornwall were one of the strongest counties in England and were to go on to win the County Championship and represent Great Britain in the Olympics two years later. Cornwall were first onto the score sheet with a try by R Jackett, the Springboks replied with unconverted tries by Hirsch, Marsberg & Brink. The second half remained scoreless, the Cornishmen had better of the play but could not breach the South African defence.
|December 26th - Match 26 v Monmouthshire
at Newport, won 17 - 0
It was back to Wales for the tourists for their final three games in the British Isles before moving on to France. Their first opponents were Monmouthshire at Newport on Boxing Day. The Springboks won the game 17 - 0 after a fine performance by the forwards who held an advantage over the Monmouthshire men. Two goals by Joubert and a try by Daneel also converted by the tour replacement saw the South Africans lead 11 - 0 at half time. In the second period they added a further 6 points through tries by Stegmann and Jackson. On the whole this was a brilliant performance by the tourists despite the slippery conditions.
|December 29th - Match 27 v Llanelly at
Llanelly, won 16 - 3
Traditionally one of the strongest teams in Wales, Llanelly were next to face the South Africans in front of 20,000 vociferous west Walians. A week earlier the men of Scarlet had defeated Cardiff, regarded at the time as the strongest team in Wales. The home team started with a flourish and were first to register a score with a try by Evans, they continued to press and had the better of the exchanges in the first half. The Springboks however fought back and at half time led 5 - 3 after a try by Raaff which was converted by Morkel. Immediately after the start of the second period Llanelli had a try disallowed and a penalty which struck the uprights, the South Africans fought back with a brilliant try by Loubser, converted by Morkel. The Springboks sealed a great victory with Loubser's second try, again converted by Morkel who also added a penalty goal. Another win by the tourists although the game was much more even than the score line suggested.
|January 1st 1907 - Match 28 v Cardiff at
Cardiff, lost 0 - 17
A combination of a boggy field and a Cardiff team on top of their form saw the Springboks thrashed at Cardiff Arms Park. Ankle deep in mud the Springbok forwards were unable to match their Welsh opponents in the tussle up front. Cardiff had given the All Blacks a fright a year earlier when they were the only team to score two tries against them. Their 10 - 8 loss to the men of New Zealand was their only defeat in a wonderful season. Led by the genius of Percy Bush the home team included one of the greatest centre partnerships of all time in Gwyn Nicholls and Rhys Gabe, the latter having lined up for Llanelly against the Springboks only 3 days previous. Nicholls it was who opened up the scoring with a marvellous try converted by his brother-in-law Bert Winfield. Gibbs then scored a try for the home team, Winfield missed the conversion but landed a penalty goal late in the half. An early incident saw both Biggs (Cardiff) and Millar (Springboks) leave the field, both returned but Biggs retired from the game at half time. Despite playing the second period with only 14 men against the wind the Cardiff men were able to hold the tourists and prevent them from scoring. They added two further tries through Williams and Gabe to win by an astonishing 17 point margin.
Action at Cardiff Arms Park
January 3rd - Match 29 v France at Paris, won 55 - 6
The Springboks travelled to Paris for the final encounter of the tour, there they outclassed the French team winning 55 points to 6. The Springboks scored 13 tries through Dobbin (3), Mare (2), Loubser (2), Martheze (2) Hirsch (2) Reid and Raaff. Mare converted 8 to give him a grand total of 22 points for the game. The French replied with two tries through Purves and Jerome. Strangely this game has not been recognised by historians as an official international even though both the French and South African Rugby Unions agreed to the fixture.
Loubser on his way to scoring a try
The Tour Party
Click on the player's name for more information on that player
WA 'Piet' Neill, WA 'Bingo' Burger, AF 'Barley' Burdett, Arthur Marsberg, Arthur Burmeister, Anton Stegmann, Japie le Roux, Dietlof Mare, DFT 'Dougie' Morkel, HG 'Oupa' Reid, JWE 'Klondyke' Raaff, DJ 'Koei' Brink, D Brookes, DC 'Mary' Jackson, WA 'Billy' Millar, Andrew Morkel, HJ 'Pinkie' Daneel, Pietie le Roux, Paul Roos, Cecil 'Daddy' Carden, HW 'Paddy' Carolin, FJ 'Uncle' Dobbin, WC 'Rajah' Martheze, HA 'Boy' de Villiers, Sydney de Melker, Steve Joubert, Jack Hirsch, Bob Loubser, Japie Krige, WS 'Sommie' Morkel
|The Springboks ended the tour with 608 points for and 85 against. Out of 29 matches, 26 were won, 2 lost and one match drawn.|
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