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The First Springboks 

Following the tours of the 1888/89 New Zealand Natives and the 1905/06 All Blacks the next major overseas side to visit the British Isles was the 1906/07 First Springboks from South Africa.

 

The tour opened in Northampton where East Midlands were overwhelmed by a score of 37 points to nil. This total included nine tries, four of which were touched down by wing Anton Stegmann.

 

The second match of the tour was against the Midland Counties, at Leicester, and the home side was composed of seven Leicester players, three Nottingham men, two from Moseley, two from Coventry and one Northampton representative.

 

One of the Moseley representatives Cecil Hamilton Shaw, a forward, had made his international debut, against Scotland, earlier in 1906 and went on to make a total of six England appearances including one against the South Africans.

 

The other Moseley player, John Graham Cooper, was also a forward but for this match against the Springboks was selected as a three-quarter. Cooper later won two England caps in 1909 and of the internationals to win more than a single cap he must have had one of the shortest international careers ever. He made his debut against Australia and then played his final England game against Wales exactly one week later.

 

Following their easy victory over East Midlands many critics said ‘Wait until they meet the cream of the Midlands at Leicester. Let us see what they can do against a clever pack of powerful forwards.’

 

In the event the tourists won 29-0 and the correspondent of the Daily Chronicle commented that ‘the Colonials have met the cream of the Midlands, and have made them look uncommonly like thin skim milk.’

 

The Midlands side, particularly the forwards led by captain V.H. Cartwright (Nottingham) the previous season’s England skipper, gave their best but were simply out-played by the Springboks. The nearest that the home side came to scoring was when Cooper just missed with a kick at goal.

 

The tourists scored five tries and their half back H.W. ‘Paddy’ Carolin scored a total of 14 points made up of two tries, two conversions and a dropped goal.

 

The next game of the tour was against Kent, at Blackheath, and the South Africans won again without conceding a score. The honour of scoring the first points against the tourists fell to Durham who were defeated 22-4, at West Hartlepool in the fourth match of the tour.

 

After this minor setback the Springboks got back on track and defeated Northumberland 44-0 and Yorkshire 34-0. Six points were then conceded in a victory over Devon (22-6) before clean sheets were maintained against Somerset (14-0), Middlesex (9-0) and Newport (8-0).

 

Glamorgan managed to score three points as they fell to the tourists by a score of 6-3 but more heavy wins for the South Africans ensued with victories over Gloucester (23-0), Oxford University (29-0) and Cambridge University (29-0).

 

The Scottish portion of the tour, which was the most unsuccessful for the Springboks, then followed. South of Scotland were defeated 32-5 before Scotland triumphed over South Africa 6-0, at Hampden Park, Glasgow. North of Scotland then managed three points in going down 35-3.

 

Ireland then ran the South Africans close, going down 15-12, in Belfast before Dublin University lost to the tourists 28-3.

 

Wales were then despatched 11-0 at Swansea before England drew 3-3 with the Springboks, at Crystal Palace. There is an interesting story about the selection of the England side for this match. It is believed that, owing to a clerical error, Dr. A. Alcock, of Guy’s Hospital, won his only cap at the expense of L.A.N. Slocock (Liverpool) who later won eight caps.

 

The tour was then rounded off with victories over Lancashire (11-8), Cumberland (21-0), Surrey (33-0), Cornwall (9-3), Monmouthshire (17-0) and Llanelly (16-3), before the South Africans lost their only provincial game when they went down at the hands of Cardiff (0-17).

 

There was then a brief trip across the Channel to defeat France by the then enormous score of 55-6. The First Springboks thus ended their tour with an overall record of played 29, won 26, drawn one, lost two, points for 588, points against 85.