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1956 SPRINGBOK TOUR of AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND

The South African tour of New Zealand in 1956 saw the tide of Springbok supremacy turn and ebb towards the shores of the land of the long white cloud. The green and gold machine had never been defeated in a test series anywhere in the world since 1896. In the two previous tours by the Springboks to New Zealand they had drawn one series (1921 - 1 win, 1 loss, 1 draw) and won the other (1937 SA 2 wins, NZ 1 win). In the previous test series held in South Africa during 1949, the Boks thrashed the Blacks 4 - 0. But the Springbok was wavering under pressure, the 1955 Lions had come close to victory, winning 2 tests out of four.............  

When the Springboks arrived in New Zealand, the tour had already received extensive media coverage with the team having already won 6 out of 6 games in Australia, this included two wins over the Wallabies. The Springboks every move was recorded by the New Zealand newspapers, even while in Australia and in the days before the Rugby World Cup the test series was built up to be the "Championship of the World". 

The New Zealand public were confident their heroes in Black would lower the colours of the mighty Springboks, and this confidence grew when the touring side were defeated 14 - 10 in their first match against the provincial side Waikato. The South African's then pulled themselves together and won their next 8 games before meeting the All Blacks in the first test at Dunedin. In a bruising encounter and with both teams reduced through injury, New Zealand to 14, South Africa to 13 the All Blacks managed to hold on and win 10 - 6. In the second test South Africa levelled the series with an 8 - 3 win. The garden city, Christchurch hosted the third test which saw the debut of Don Clarke, the great All Black goal kicker. The Waikato man scored 8 points in a 17 - 10 win that saw the All Blacks take a 2 - 1 unbeatable lead in the series. The crowds flocked to Eden Park, Auckland for the fourth and deciding test in the series to see the All Blacks become the first team to lower the Springboks colours in 60 years. The All Black forwards won the day with their control in the tight, No 8 Peter Jones scoring a try 5 minutes into the second half and Don Clarke scoring another 8 points with the boot. The Springboks were well beaten and crossed the line to score a consolation try close to the finish, giving New Zealand a winning margin of 11 - 5. 

TRAVEL

Whilst touring New Zealand in 1956 the Springbok rugby team travelled the length and breadth of New Zealand in special trains. There were two different trains used by the tour party, one on the North Island, one on the South.  Each train had a special hand painted headboard attached to the front. Pictured below is the North Island headboard. NZ railways could find no further use for the headboard once the tour had finished, it was acquired by a New Zealand train driver who then added it to his already sizeable rugby memorabilia collection. Here it remained in his collection until 1995 when it was purchased by the World Rugby Museum.

The tour party about to embark on another long train journey following one of their provincial matches. The team was captained by Basie Viviers and managed by the great Danie Craven. In New Zealand leg of the tour, the Springboks played 23 matches, winning 16, losing 6 and sharing the honours in one match during a stay that lasted 3 months.   

The 1956 headboard on display at the William Webb Ellis pub in Rugby where it was displayed for two years as part of the WRM Partner programme

Members of the Springbok Rugby team stand beside the sign on the front of the railcar which took them from Auckland to Hamilton at 11.00 a.m. today. They are from left to right on the platform J Pickard, J Nel, and W Rosenberg with R Dryburgh (with hat on) and J Buchler standing on the track. This photo appears on the back of Reg Sweet's account of the tour 'The Kiwi's Conquer'

 

Each player was issued by New Zealand Railways a travel itinerary titled 'With the Springboks by Rail'. This pamphlet contained information on railway travel by the Springboks. 

".......................On your tour of New Zealand by rail you will travel in diesel railcars of two different type. In the north island, one of the six 52-seater railcars will be used. This type was designed and built by New Zealand railways for express passenger service. It is a double-bogie vehicle measuring nearly 68 ft. overall and weighing 29 1/2 tones. Two 115 h.p diesel engines - one installed in each bogie - give the railcar a top speed of 70 m.p.h. These railcars, Aotea, Tokamaru, Pongatoru, Takitimu, and Tikitere, are named after the famous ocean-going sailing canoes which brought the Maoris to New Zealand about six centuries ago. The railcar to be used in the South Island will be one of the nine "Vulcan" cars. These were built in Great Britain to New Zealand specifications. "Vulcan" railcars weigh 36 tons and have a length of 68 ft. The six-wheeled power bogie carries a 250-275 h.p. diesel engine capable of giving a maximum speed of 75m.p.h. The normal maximum speed is 55m.p.h.

 More than 2,100 miles of your tour through New Zealand will be covered by railcar and by railway-owned road motor-coach. We can assure you that this part of the tour will not lack interest and variety. There is no better way to view New Zealand than from the armchair comfort of a diesel railcar. As the miles slip quickly beneath the wheels, the countryside unfolds in a vast panorama of scenic grandeur. Like South Africa, New Zealand was a difficult country in which to construct railways, and on your travels you will see many of the engineering triumphs for which our railways are famed. For instance, on the journey from Auckland to Palmerston North , you will climb the fascinating Raurimu Spiral, where the line corkscrews over itself to gain elevation, and you will pass over many high viaducts. Speaking of Viaducts, when travelling from Gisborne to Napier you will cross the Mohaka Viaduct, the highest in New Zealand and one of the highest in the world. The deck of this structure is 315ft above the river. On the first run from Timaru to Christchurch the railcar will carry you across our longest bridge, which spans the snow-fed waters of the mile-wide Rakaia River . You will pass through the longest tunnel in the British Commonwealth when you go from Wellington to Masterton. This tunnel, 5 1/2 miles long, was opened only last year. And, for good measure, we will also take you through the Commonwealth's second longest tunnel (Otira,  5 1/4  miles) when you go from Christchurch to Westport .................."

The pamphlet opens out into a map of NZ

 

 

GALLERY

04-1956-railway-pamphlet.jpg (19385 bytes) 12-springboksbyrail2.jpg (82556 bytes) 1956-train-3.jpg (24866 bytes) 06-1956-timetable.jpg (43507 bytes)
Information on the team, match itinerary and travel itinerary contained in the NZ Railways itinerary. Click on the thumbnail photo to view this information.  South Island train with headboard

New Zealand Railways Waikato v Springboks special trains handbill. This was a famous victory for the Waikato team who defeated the Springboks 14 - 10 in the first match of the New Zealand leg of the tour. The train timetable gives details of stops between Auckland and Hamilton and includes fare prices. (WRM-551)

 

THE MATCHES

Programme cover Opposition Date Venue Score Attendance Match Report
  ACT 15 May Canberra 41-6   not available
  New South Wales 19 May Sydney 29-9   not available
  N.S.W Country 22 May Tamworth 15-8   not available
  Australia-1 26 May Sydney 9-0   not available
  Queensland 29 May Brisbane 47-3   not available
  Australia - 2 2 June Brisbane 9-0   not available
  Waikato 9 June Hamilton 10-14   not available
56-NorthAuckland.jpg (28506 bytes) North Auckland 13 June Whangarei 3-0   not available
56-Auck.jpg (57547 bytes) Auckland 16 June 1956 Auckland 6-3   not available
56-Manawatu.jpg (51540 bytes) Manawatu-Horowhenua  Combined 20 June 1956 Palmerston North 14-3   not available
56-Wellington.jpg (35793 bytes) Wellington 23 June Wellington 8-6   not available
  Poverty Bay-East Coast  Combined 27 June Gisborne 22-0   not available
  Hawke's Bay 30 June Napier 20-8   not available
88.jpg (34042 bytes) Nelson-Malborough Bays  Combined 4 Jul Nelson 41-3   not available
56-Ontago.jpg (53989 bytes) Otago 7 July Dunedin 14-9   not available
  New Zealand - 1st Test 14 July Dunedin 6-10   not available
  S Canterbury, Mid-Cant & N Otago Combined 18 July Timaru 20-8   not available
56-Caterbury.jpg (57299 bytes) Canterbury 21 July 1956 Christchurch 6-9   not available
  West Coast-Buller Combined 25 July Westport 27-6   not available
  Southland 28 July Invercargill 23-12   not available
  Wairarapa-Bush Combined 31 July Masterton 19-8   not available
  New Zealand - 2nd Test 4 Aug Wellington 8-3   not available
  Wanganui-King Country Combined 8 Aug Wanganui 36-16   not available
56-Taranaki.jpg (48509 bytes) Taranaki 11 Aug New Plymouth 3-3   not available
SA-56.jpg (55670 bytes) New Zealand - 3rd Test 18 Aug Christchurch 10-17   not available
  NZ Universities 22 Aug Wellington 15-22   not available
56-NZ-Maoris.jpg (81645 bytes) NZ Maoris 25 Aug Auckland 37-0   not available
  Bay of Plenty-Thames valley-Counties Combined 28 Aug Rotorua 17-6   not available
  New Zealand - 4th Test 1 Sept Auckland 5-11   not available

 

THE PLAYERS (profiles are from the time of the tour)

  Player Province Position Games Tries Con. PG DG Points
J.U. Buchler Transvaal Fullback 8 0 0 2 0 6

John Ulrich Buchler: Fullback. Buchler, who retired from rugby at the early age of 23 after the Australian tour of South Africa in 1953, has made a return this season. A safe and sound all-round full-back, he began his provincial career for Transvaal in 1948 and played in all five tests on the 1951-52 South African tour of Britain and France, and in the four tests against the 1953 Australians. Educated at the Witwatersrand Technical College, he is a welfare officer.

S.S. Viviers (capt) Orange Free State Fullback 17 2 34 9 2 107

Stephanus Sebastian Viviers (captain): Fullback and centre. Viviers first played provincial rugby for N. Transvaal from 1947 to 1950 before moving to the Free State, which he has captained except when injured since 1952. He was a member of the 1951-52 South African team in Britain and France, but did not play in any of the tests. Educated at Nylstroom High School, he is a representative for a fertiliser company.

K.T. van Vollenhoven Northern Transvaal Wing 19 16 0 0 1 51

Karel Thomas van Vollenhoven: Wing. Van Vollenhoven is an attacking player. He played for the Free State under-19 side before moving to Pretoria, and has played for N. Transvaal since 1954. He was at centre in the first international against the British Isles last year, but was moved to the wing for the second and scored three brilliant tries. He completed the test series on the left wing. Born and educated at Bethlehem, he is a policeman.

P.G.A. Johnstone Transvaal Wing 17 3 5 2 0 25

Paul Geoffrey Johnstone: Wing and centre. After playing his first provincial match for Western Province in1950, Johnstone was chosen for the 1951-52 South African tour of Britain and France. An elusive and often brilliant player, he was one of the great successes of that tour, and played in all five internationals. Educated at Hilton College, the University of Cape Town and Oxford University, where he led the rugby side in 1954. Johnstone is now with a Johannesburg mining house.

R.G. Dryburgh Natal Wing 15 14 8 13 0 97

Roy Gladstone Dryburgh: Fullback and wing. Versatile player. Dryburgh played his first provincial match for Western Province in 1949 at the age of 19. He was South Africa 's fullback in the last three internationals against the British Isles last year. He completed the last season with Western Province before moving to Natal. Educated at Grey College, Port Elizabeth, he is a textile manufacturers' representative.

J.G.H. du Preez Western Province Wing 6 5 0 0 0 15

Jan du Preez: Wing. Jan du Preez first played provincial rugby as a centre, but moved out to the wing a year or two ago, and was a great success on the recent tour of Italy, France and Britain. Du Preez recently gained a doctorate at the University of Stellenbosch.

  T.P.D. Briers Western Province Wing 8 4 0 0 0 12
 
W. Rosenberg Transvaal Centre 5 1 0 0 0 3

 Wilfred Rosenberg: Centre. Rosenberg played his first rugby at the Sydney Grammar School in Australia before returning to the land of his birth, South Africa. He played his first provincial match for Transvaal in 1953 and went on tour with the Junior Springboks last year. He played in the last three internationals against the British Isles. He is mercurial on attack and resolute on defence. Educated at Jeppe Boys' High School, he is now studying medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand.

P.E. Montini Western Province Centre 11 1 0 0 1 6

Patrick Evan Montini: Centre. A fast and elusive player who can be brilliant, Montini is an experienced centre. He played for Western Province in 1951 and 1952 before moving to the Boland. He returned to Western Province last year, and is now studying law at the University of Stellenbosch .

 

A.I. Kirkpatrick Griqualand West Centre 12 4 0 0 0 12

Alexander Ian Kirkpatrick: Centre. A fine attacking centre with a great burst of speed, Kirkpatrick first attracted attention as a fly half for Griqualand West in 1950. He was invited to the Springbok trials in 1951 and played for South Africa in the second international against the 1953 Australians at fly half. Educated at Kimberley Boys' High School, he is employed by an oil company.

J.J Nel Western Province Centre 21 9 1 1 0 32

Jeremy John Nel: Centre and fly half. Nel was still a schoolboy when he became a regular member of the W. Transvaal team in 1952. A big, sturdy and reliable player, Nel was educated at Potchefstroom Boys' High School and is now studying for a BA. degree at the University of Stellenbosch.

CA Ulyate Transvaal Flyhalf 12 1 0 0 1 6

Clive Anthony Ulyate: Fly half. Played in all four internationals against the British Isles. He is a sound player with a fondness for using the blind side and is also a good kicker. He has played cricket for Transvaal and is a low-handicap golfer. Educated at Hilton College, he is studying Mining Engineering at the University of Witwatersrand .

BF Howe Border Flyhalf 18 3 0 0 0 9

Bennett Frederick Howe: Centre three-quarter and fly half. A brilliant schoolboy player at Dale College, King William's Town, Howe has been a mainstay of the Border team since 1951. He is a learner woolbuyer.

BD Pfaff Western Province Flyhalf 5 2 0 0 0 6

Brian Desmond Pfaff: Fly half, centre and fullback. One of the fastest rugby players in South Africa. Pfaff has been a regular member of the Western Province team since 1952. He has also represented Western Province at cricket. Educated at Hilton College, he is now studying accountancy at the University of Cape Town

TA Gentles Western Province Scrum-half 14 3 0 0 0 9

Thomas Alexander Gentles: Scrum half. Though Gentles has not played for his province, he earned his Springbok colours with good displays in the trials. He was a member of the first Junior Springboks touring side last year and played in the first, second and fourth tests. He is also a good golfer and cricketer. Educated at Diocesan College (Bishops) and the University of Cape Town, where he gained a B.A. degree, he is with a Cape Town motor firm.

CF Strydom Orange Free State Scrum-half 15 1 0 0 0 3

Coenraad Frederick Strydom: Scrum half. A hardy, nippy player, Strydom has represented Free State since 1952. He played in the third test against the British Isles last year. Educated at Gray College, he is a building society clerk.

HPJ Bekker Northern Transvaal Prop 15 2 0 0 0 6

Hendrik Petrus Jordaan Bekker: Front-rank forward. One of the strongest front-row forwards ever produced in South Africa. Bekker is also a grand player in the loose. Made his debut for Northern Transvaal in 1946 and was a member of the 1950 Junior Springboks team in Rhodesia. He played against England and France on the 1951-52 South African tour, in all four tests against the 1953 Australians and in the last three against the British Isles last year. He is one of three brothers who are regular members of the N.Transvaal team, the others being Dolf (wing) and Martiens (front- ranker). Educated at Dordrecht High School, he is a paint salesman.

AC Koch Boland Prop 14 2 0 0 0 6

August Christoffel Koch: Front-rank forward. Koch, who first played for Boland at the age of 18 in 1946, and is a veteran of 15 international matches, is an exceptionally mobile front-row forward. He began his test career in the second international against the 1949 New Zealand team, and, with the exception of the third test against the 1953 Australians, has been South Africa's regular  loose-head prop. He was educated at Mooreesburg High School and is a farmer.

PS du Toit Western Province Prop 15 0 0 0 0 0

Pieter du Toit: Front-rank forward. Piet du Toit is a young front-row forward of great strength, and also ability in the loose. He played one or two games for Western Province last year, and improved greatly on the recent tour of Italy, France and Britain by the Combined Universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch. He is a B.A. student at Stellenbosch.

HN Walker Western Transvaal Prop 18 0 0 0 0 0

Henry Newton Walker: Front-row forward. Harry Newton Walker played his first provincial match for Natal in 1947, and since then has also represented Free State and W. Transvaal. In 1950 he went on tour with the Junior Springboks and made his only test appearance in the third international against Australia in 1953. He was at school at Kearsney College and is an accountant.

AJ van der Merwe Boland Hooker 20 1 0 0 0 3

Albertus Johannes van der Merwe: Hooker. Van der Merwe, a fast striker for the ball and good all-round forward, first represented Boland in 1950, and came into the Springbok side last year to play in the last three internationals against the British Isles . Educated at Worcester High School and the University of Cape Town, he is a farmer.

M. vd S. Hanekom Boland Hooker 9 3 0 0 0 9

Melt Hanekom: Melt Hanekom has been kept out of Boland's team for several years by Bertus van der Merwe, and has only played for them in van der Merwe's absence. He is a fast striker for the ball and also a useful forward in the loose.

JA du Rand Northern Transvaal Lock 19 2 0 0 0 6

Jacobus ("Salty") du Rand (vice-captain): Lock forward. Like Chris Koch, "Salty" du Rand has played in 15 international matches, and is only three short of Boy Louw's South African record of 18. He began his provincial rugby career with Western Province as a flank in 1947, and since then has also played for Rhodesia and now N. Transvaal. He played in the second and third tests against the 1949 New Zealanders, and since then has not missed an international. He was at Cradock High School and Stellenbosch University. He is a representative for a firm of liquor merchants.

JT Claassen Western Transvaal Lock 18 1 0 0 0 3

Johan Theodore Claassen: Lock forward. Johan Claassen, big, strong and a fine jumper in the line-outs, started playing for W. Transvaal in 1950 and has captained the side since 1954. Last year he played in all four tests against the British Isles after going on the first Junior Springboks tour. He was educated at Christiana High School and the University of Potchefstroom. He is a school  teacher.

CJ de Nysschen Natal Lock 10 1 0 0 0 3

Christian Johannes de Nysschen: Lock forward. Chris de Nysschen came into the Natal side last year and started the trials in the lowest game, but put in a fine display and was immediately promoted. A solid young player, and particularly prominent in the line-outs. he is also very fast, and. has run 100 yards in 10.2sec. He was educated at Ladysmith High School, and is a clerk on the railways.

J.A.J. Pickard  Western Province Lock 18 2 2 0 0 10

Jan Albertus Jacobus Pickard: Lock forward. Jan Pickard is a bullocking player with amazing strength who first played for Western Province in 1951. He was chosen for the 1951-52 South tour of Britain and France, but did not play in a test, and came into the Springbok team for the last two internationals against Australia in 1953. Injury kept him out of the game for most of last season. A product of Paarl Gymnasium and the University of Stellenbosch, where he gained a B.Sc. degree in viticulture, he runs his own liquor business.

C.J van Wyk Transvaal Flank 0 0 0 0 0 0

Christian Johannes van Wyk: Flank forward. One of the best known of South African international forwards since the war, "Basie" van Wyk is a big, bustling forward. He first played provincial rugby for Western Transvaal from 1944 to 1947, and since then has been a regular member of the Transvaal side. He played in all five internationals on the South African tour of Britain and France in 1951-52 and in all four against the 1953 Australians. He was at Potchefstroom University and is a schoolteacher.

D.S.P Ackermann Western Province Flank 15 8 0 0 0 24

David Schalk Pienaar Ackermann: Lock and flank forward. A fine natural rugby player, Ackermann first represented Western Province in 1950. He played for South Africa in the last three tests against the British Isles last year. Educated at the Aliwal North High School, Ackermann recently completed his training in physical education at the University of Stellenbosch.

C.J de Wilzem Orange Free State Flank 16 1 0 0 0 3

Christiaan Johannes de Wizem: Flank forward. Chris de Wilzem is a grand loose forward on attack. Last year he came into the  Free State side and also went on tour with the Junior Springboks. He received his schooling at the Hangklip High School in Queenstown and also studied at the University College of the Free State. He is a schoolteacher.

G.P Lochner Western Province Flank 19 4 0 0 0 12

George Philip Lochner: Flank forward. "Butch" Lochner is a 'fast and effective defensive flanker with a deadly tackle. He can also be used with success if a three-quarter is injured. After playing for Western Province in 1951 and the subsequent years he moved to Boland to play for them in 1954 before returning to the University of Stellenbosch last year. He played in the third test against the British Isles last season when Dan Retief had to fallout because of injury. He is studying agriculture at the University of Stellenbosch.

  J.J Starke Western Province Flank 8 1 0 0 0 3
 
D.F Retief Northern Transvaal Eighthman 18 11 0 0 0 33

Daniel Francois Retief: No.8 forward. Retief is a bustling, tearaway forward. He played as a wing for N. Transvaal in 1950 and went on the Junior Springboks tour in 1950. Changing to loose forward, he played in the first, second and fourth tests against the British Isles last year, being kept out of the third by injury. He was at Lichtenburg High School and took his B.Com. degree at the University of Pretoria. He is an assistant buyer with the Potato Board.

 

RECOMMENDED READING

awaiting

illustration

"The Kiwis Conquer" 

The story of the tour 

by Reg Sweet

"The Battle for the Rugby Crown

The story of the tour 

by Terry McLean

"The 1956 Springboks in New Zealand"

The tour with pictures and reports.

edited by John Fairbairn

"Lodge Laughs at the Springbok Tour" 

humorous cartoons 

by Neville Lodge

"Old Heroes"

What happened to the Springboks in later years

by Warwick Roger

These and other publications relating to the 1956 Springbok tour of New Zealand can be found on the Rugby Relics website. To be taken directly to the page containing these items.

CLICK HERE

 

presents

1956 Springbok Headboard

Whilst touring New Zealand in 1956 the Springbok rugby team travelled the length and breadth of New Zealand in special trains. There were two different trains used by the tour party, one on the North Island, one on the South.  Each train had a special hand painted headboard attached to the front. We have available the North Island headboard which at the time was attached to a 52-seater diesel railcar.

Accompanying the headboard are the following items.  (WRM-554)

Players itinerary issued by New Zealand Railways. - Contains information on the team, match itinerary and travel itinerary, map of NZ with places of interest.  (WRM-553)

New Zealand Railways Waikato v Springboks special trains handbill. This was a famous victory for the Waikato team who defeated the Springboks 14 - 10 in the first match of the New Zealand leg of the tour. The train timetable gives details of stops between Auckland and Hamilton and includes fare prices. (WRM-551)

04-1956-railway-pamphlet.jpg (19385 bytes) 12-springboksbyrail2.jpg (82556 bytes) 06-1956-timetable.jpg (43507 bytes)

We welcome enquires from prospective partners interested in exhibiting this headboard ! 

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