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Springboks in the Irish provinces

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There are four provinces in Ireland. They sing about them in an anthem before Test matches. The Springboks play the fourth this Tuesday, just over a century after they first played on Irish soil.

The match against Connacht has some thing of the old days of rugby tours when the great players from abroad would arrive in the country and play provinces or clubs as well as the Test matches. Now such activity has been distilled to Tests only.

At the end of 1906 Paul Roos’s first Springboks went to Europe. They played 29 matches but only two in Ireland – the Test in Belfast and then a match against Dublin University.

In December 1912 they first played an Irish province – Ulster. Again they played just two matches in Ireland – the Test at Lansdowne Road and then against Ulster in Belfast. They beat Ireland 38-0 – a world record for a Test that stood till 1952 – but beat Ulster only 19-0. They scored ten tries against Ireland, five against Ulster. Both wings scored hat-tricks against Ireland – Anton Stegmann and Boet McHardy. Against Ulster wing Apie van der Hoff scored a hat-trick of tries.

Bennie Osler took the Springboks to Ireland in that wet, wet winter of 1931-32 and they played the same pair of matches – the Test and against Ulster in Belfast. They beat Ulster 30-3 and Ireland 8-3.

In 1951 the Springboks played two provinces apart from the Test. They played Ulster and this time added Munster. They beat Ulster 27-5 and won the Test 17-5 but found Munster tough when they met them at Thomond Park in, Limerick. The Springboks won 11-6.

Avril Malan’s 1960-61 team, the fourth in a row to win all the Tests against the Four Home Unions, went to Ireland twice, and this time they played three of the four proud provinces of Ireland. On their first visit they won the Test 8-3 and then beat Munster 9-3 at Musgrave Park in Cork. On their second visit they beat Ulster 19-6 at Ravenhill and then beat Leinster 12-5 at Lansdowne Road.

In 1965 the most unsuccessful Springbok touring team of all time went to Ireland. The played Combined Provinces in Belfast and drew and then lost to Combined Universities Past & Present at Thomond Park and then lost the Test.

Despite hefty political opposition the Springboks were back in Ireland. They were to have been there twice but their Belfast match against Ulster was scrapped. They drew the Test 8-all and then beat Munster at Thomond Park 25-9,

So excited are Connacht about their first match against the Springboks ever that they are to produce a 20-page commemorative programme.

 

365 Digital

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