Waikato team, 1956

The Waikato rugby football team that defeated the Springboks in 1956.

Back row: A.R. Reid (captain), J.R. Bullick, G.P. Nola, M.J. Mcdonald, G.J. Carrington, G.R. Brunskill.

Middle row: I.J. Clarke, R.C. Hemi, E.A.R. Pickering, D.E. Grant, D.B. Clarke, J.T. Graham, A. Hayes.

Front row: D.S.B. Heather (chairman), R.B. Cooper (assistant manager), R.A. Everest (selector and coach), D.J. McKenzie, B.A.C. Cowley (vice-captain), E.H. Catley (assistant coach), W. Gilmore (manager), S. Hyslop (masseur).

Insert: J.H. Mauger. (D.J. McKenzie withdrew on the eve of match because of illness.)

Waikato 14, South Africa 10; Rugby Park, Hamilton, 9 June 1956

In amateur rugby’s heyday, touring international teams played in packed grounds all over the country. The local teams took these matches seriously and were determined to take the scalp of the visiting team. For provincial players not destined for higher honours, playing the touring Springboks or Lions might be their only crack at the ‘big time’. The history of rugby in this country is littered with famous victories against touring national sides.

New Zealand rugby fans had found losing all four tests on the 1949 tour of South Africa a bitter pill to swallow. Hopes for revenge simmered for seven long years until the return series in 1956.

More than 31,000 fans packed into Hamilton's Rugby Park for the first match of the tour. The home team raced to a 14-0 lead thanks to 'a rabid forward display that knocked the visitors off their feet'. The inevitable Springbok fightback fell short and the roar was deafening when South African captain Jan Pickard presented his Waikato counterpart, Alan 'Ponty' Reid, with the ceremonial springbok head they had brought with them to give to the first provincial team to beat them.

One of the Waikato heroes that day was Don Clarke. 'The Boot' would make his All Black debut in the third test and play a crucial role in the victory that gave the All Blacks a 2-1 lead in the series.

Canterbury and New Zealand Universities also defeating the 1956 tourists.

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Eleanor Pinfold

Posted: 08 Nov 2017

I have an original poster of the Springbok tour of NZ 1956 signed by each player in the Springbok team. It also has messages on the reverse to Dan De Villiers from F W Brown of the Waikato Rugby Union. Would you be interested in it? It was my father's, Ron Kirby.