The First Rugby Test in South Africa


On July 30th, 1891, the first-ever rugby Test was played at St George's Park, on the ground that became known in rugby circles as the Crusaders Grounds. Britain won the Test 4 - 0, scoring two tries, but one must realize that in those days a try was only worth one point, but when converted, counted three. This British touring team was unbeaten during the tour, but the scoring in vogue at the time gave one point for a converted try, two for a penalty goal or a goal from a mark, and three for a drop goal or a converted try.

A British touring team sampled for the first time the strange delights of gravel grounds, dust-devils, long-distance travel and the initial aptitude of South Africans for a game which we have made our very own.

And so it was that The teams lined up as follows:

SOUTH AFRICA: Full back, Ben Duff (Hamiltons, Western Province); Wing Three-quarters, H C Boyes (Kimberley); M C van Buuren (Pirates, Transvaal); Centre Three-quarter, J T "Chubb" Vigne (Transvaal); Half-backs, Alf Richards and F H Guthrie (both of Villagers and Western Province);

Forwards H H Lasrens (Captain, Villagers and Western Province); W M Bisset (Villagers and Western Province); Marthinus Versfeld (Hamiltons and Western Province); Mike Louw (Gardens and Western Province); M Devenish. E Alexander and E M Little (Kimberley); F Hamilton and J Merry (Port Elizabeth).

BRITAIN: W G MitcheU (Full-back); W E Maclagan (Captain) and P R Clauss (Wing Three-quarters);

R L Aston (Centre Three-quarter); W Wotherspoon and A Rotherham (Half-backs);

Forwards, John Hammond, J H Gould, W F Bromet, R G M'Millan, A A Surtees, P F Hancock, C Simpson, T Whittaker and R Thompson.

The referee was Dr. Griffin.

In the three Tests at Port Elizabeth, Kimberley and Cape Town, South Africa lost 0-4, 0-2 and 0-4 respectively, so even at that stage there was no very great disparity in the strength of the opponents.

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TEXT CREDITS: Ivor Markman and St.Georges Park website


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Approximately 400 shipwrecks are to be found in and around Algoa Bay.

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Last updated:
3 October 2012 7:51