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.

 Having been unavailable for the previous season's final international C.H. Shaw returned to the England side for the match against the South Africans, at Crystal Palace. Constant dizzle throughout the game affected play and the match ended in a draw,each side having scored one try. In all the tourists won 26 of their 29 maqtches, losing only to Scotland and to Cardiff.