St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
St George's Park - Oxford-Cambridge (OXCAMBS) vs Rhodes at Crusader Grounds
Oxford-Cambridge (OXCAMBS) vs Rhodes at Crusader Grounds
To the disappointment of a crowd of about 11,000, the Oxford-Cambridge rugby team failed to produce the fireworks expected of them against Rhodes University at the Crusader Ground on Saturday, August 18, 1951, and the visitors were somewhat fortunate to draw 0-0.
However, before turning to the tourists’ shortcomings, we must give full credit to Rhodes, whose forwards clearly won the battle for possession and whose backs were deadly in defence.
Apart from outscrumming Carpenter’s men, the Grahamstown pack hunted more effectively in the loose and rucked with a will.
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A typical scene from the inter-varsity game played at the Crisader's Ground. Higgs, the Rhodes scrum-half, holds up an attempted break-through by the Oxcamb forwards, with Dry coming up to support him.
No forward caught the eye more than Playford, the ginger-haired Rhodes flanker, but Morgan, Waldron and M Dry also played excellently in a fiery eight.
With a liberal supply of the ball and Dugmore and Higgs combining well at half-back, the Rhodes line moved smoothly at times, but a tendency to individualism by the centres, particularly Bowes, lost them a few good chances.
In addition, the Blues inside backs did a sterling job on defence.
The wind seemed to worry the Oxcambs backs, who, with the exception of Hofmeyr, did not use the swing pass. But their real trouble behind the scrum was a poor service by scrum-half Green who, I understand, played under the handicap of an injured shoulder.
He was often unable to find Hofmeyr who, nevertheless, played a most competent game at fly-half, saving the “Blues” with his boot time and again.
Another South African, who hardly put a foot wrong at full-back, Lewis, was also one of the Blues’ most competent players. He rather outshone his vis-a-vis, Estcourt, who was uncertain with a rolling ball.
Smith, the Cambridge flyer, had no real chance and limped for the whole of the second half.
Kendall-Carpenter (who did well in the line-outs), Walker and Wheeler were best in the Oxcambs pack. Both sides tried to open up the game, but things didn’t quite go with a swing.
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Bowes, of Rhodes, attempts to break past Williswith several Rhodians up in support.
Rhodes, having won the toss, played with the sun and wind behind them, and gradually worked their way in Oxcambs territory, where a penalty to the tourists brought only slight relief.
Yet another penalty, taken by skipper Kendall-Carpenter, gained another 20 yards, but Dugmore drove them back. The first line movement was made by Rhodes but it didn’t gain much ground.
Rhodes continued to press and Morgan failed badly with a 40-yard penalty. Again the Oxcambs were penalised - this time from an easy positions 35 yards out, but again Morgan foozled his effort.
There was a roar when John Smith, the English international “Blue Flash” got away for the first time. He outflanked four opponents before being brought down.
Contrary to their usual tear-away start, the tourists seemed to be pacing themselves. Lewis, at full-back for the “Blues” (Hofmeyr was at fly-half after all) sent Botting away, but the 3949 All Black winger failed to pass Dry.
A bad pass from Bartlett to Cannell, at centre, saw the Rhodes forwards scrumming in the visitors “25”. Rhodes were winning the ball from the scrums and Dugmore tried to cut through, but the Oxcambs covered effectively on defence.
In the 18th minute Rhodes were awarded a penalty on the “25”. Dugmore, fly-half, kicked for the corner flag; Botting fumbled and Lewis was penalised for hanging on. This time Slaven wasted a good opportunity.
All out for that elusive first score, the Rhodes forwards almost went over with a hand-to-hand passing rush. Then Smith had to touch down.
It was all Rhodes now.
A quick heel from the loose produced an overlap for Rhodes, but Bowes, at outside-centre, elected to cut through and was held up five yards from the line.
When the tourists did manage to hook, scrum-half Green threw out some wild passes to Hofmeyr. Smit, the Rhodes left-wing, who had sustained a knock early in the game, now went into the pack, Slaven (eighth man) taking his place on the wing.
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These Rhodes students had bright smiles on their way to cheer their team against the combined Oxford and Cambridge players in their match at the Crusader Ground, Port Elizabeth.
At last the Oxcambs came into the Rhodes “25” when Hofmeyr found a good touch.
Botting failed to make headway on the left and Hofmeyr was well off the target with a snap drop. So far the game had failed to come up to expectations, and half-time arrived with the scoreboard still blank.
Excellent scrummaging by the low-packing Rhodes eight prevented the visiting line seeing much of the ball. Despite the efforts of Kendall-Carpenter, Rhodes also won a major share of the line-outs.
Half-time: Rhodes 0, Oxford-Cambridge 0.
With sun behind their backs, the tourists started off promisingly in the second half. But Morgan, the Rhodes flanker, lost yet another chance of taking the lead from a penalty.
Then Rhodes seemed certain to open the score. A punt ahead by Dugmore bounced unkindly for Lewis, and Symington, the Rhodes centre, gathered only to lose possession almost on the line.
Hofmeyr was cheered for a tremendous touch-finder. Now and then, we saw flashes of the visitors flair for backing up in support of a reverse pass. The crowd had little to shout about. Lewis was playing very soundly at full-back for Oxford-Cambridge.
It was Rhodes who roused the crowd when fly-half Dugmore initiated a scissors move that saw the ball chain-passed out to the left, where Smith received with an overlap. The crowd were shouting “try” but referee Finnemore had whistled for a knock-on.
In the closing minutes both sides tried hard to open up for a score. Murray Hofmeyr made an excellent attempt with a drop from fully 45 yards.
August 18, 1951.