St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Rugby St George's Park - Johnny Hammond's 1896 British Tour of South Africa - First Test
Johnny Hammond's 1896 British Tour of South Africa - First Test
Port Elizabeth - July 30, 1896

It is a strange coincidence that the first rugby Test in 1896, just like the first cricket Test in 1891, also took place at the Crusader’s ground, Port Elizabeth, and also on the 30th July, which happened to be a Thursday in both cases!

The last Test in both years took place at Newlands on a Saturday and on the 5th September.

The writer of one of the articles consulted was not at all complimentary in his remarks concerning the display of the South African forwards in the first international match.

They were described as “worthless”, one of them being “worse than useless”! They did not “have a ghost of a show” and the visitors “were never really pressed”. “It was sickening to watch players with a big name as well as a big body loafing round the scrums”!

The result of the poor display by the South African forwards was that the backs got very few chances and had to defend more than was good for them. Particularly the two half-backs, Myburgh and Guthrie, had to fall on the ball time after time.

This they did so successfully that the Britons could not put up a big score against them. After the Britons had been mostly on the attack, mainly as a result of good play by Mackie, Myburgh brought temporary relief when he broke cleanly from a scrum, and when he was confronted by a Briton he passed to Aston.

From him the ball went to Anderson on the wing who looked very dangerous before being stopped. Soon afterwards Myburgh broke again, and again passed to Aston, to Olver who was stopped by Johnston.

After these two onslaughts the British team camped in the South African “25”, where the two halves did yeomen work in defence, as also did Wessels, Aston and Heatlie. Crean, time after time, led dangerous rushes which were stopped in the nick of time.

If the ball went to the British backs, Jones and Anderson were always there to stop them. But when a line-out was formed near their line, Carey caught the ball, dropped it on the ground to dribble it along, and then went like a steam roller over all opposition, scoring a good try.

Halftime came soon afterwards with the score 3 0 in favour of Britain.

On resumption the South African forwards played much better. Britain again started the game vigorously, but Myburgh sent Anderson away, who in turn passed to Jones who ran very well and was only stopped deep inside the British “25”.

Here Van Renen, receiving from Gorton, actually went over, but was recalled for an infringement. From a good movement Olver was sent away, but kicked when it looked as if he could have gone for the line.

England then went over to the attack, especially since our forwards were tiring. The prettiest movement of the day came when Magee, Mullineaux, Mackie, Bulger and Byrne participated in short, quick passes for Bulger to score and Byrne to convert, making the final score 8 - 0.

Final Score:
Britain: 8 - South Africa: 0.

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