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Saturday, December 10, 2005


Pumas and Junior Springboks

Image: Paul Roos, Manager


First major contact

The first major rugby contact between Argentina and South Africa happened in 1932 when the Junior Springboks went across the Atlantic to Argentina.

By that time two foreign teams had visited Argentina where the rugby union was now 33 years old. In 1910 a British combination had toured and in 1927 a second British combination came. The first touring team played one match against Argentina, the second four matches.

Though the Junior Springboks won all of their matches, the standard of rugby in Argentina was clearly on the up as was the enthusiasm for the game in the country's great clubs.

In the Thirties South African rugby ruled the world - the Golden Age of Springbok rugby. In the Thirties they enjoyed a Grand Slam on their tour to Britain and Ireland, beat Australia in two series, won a series in New Zealand and won a series against the Lions.

The Springboks had toured the UK and Ireland in 1931-32. Now the SA Rugby Board sent another team, the Junior Springboks, the first team to be called the Junior Springboks to Argentina. It was, from the start, intended as a developmental tour - for Argentina.

The manager of the team was that great man Paul Roos, captain of the 1906-07 Springboks and the headmaster of a great school. They also sent Jock Finlay to help with refereeing.

At the end of the tour the president of the River Plate Rugby Union (the forerunner of the Argentinian Rugby Union) wrote to the SA Rugby Board as follows:

"On behalf of the River Plate Rugby Union I have to thank you for the excellent team which you sent on tour. It was excellent from all points of view. The lectures of Messrs. Paul Roos and J.G. Finlay have been very carefully studied here, and every member of the side was ideal for the tour. They were all most welcome visitors to us. Certainly you could not have been better represented. Messrs. Nykamp and McCarthy helped to fulfil the objects of the tour. Our players will certainly benefit as a result of the visit."

Pleased, Paul Roos could say in his report on the tour: "My boys fully upheld the high traditions of Springbok sportsmanship both on and off the field."

That the tour was an "educational" was obvious from what he, too, said: "That our opponents had begun to assimilate the lessons we endeavoured to teach was clear in the last match of the tour, when, in spite of our best endeavours, we beat Gimnasia y Esgrima only by 11 points to 5."

The River Plate Rugby Union decided to translate all Paul Ross's lectures into Spanish and publish them.

The team left Cape Town by the good ship Montevideo Maru on 21 June 1932. It put in at Rio de Janeiro, Santos and Montevideo, and arrived in Buenos Aires on 8 July.

All was not plain sailing. Paul Roos's report contains this amusing aside: "I regret to say that ere long happy countenances aboard the 'Montevideo Maru' began to assume a greenish hue which is the prerogative of the landsman who takes time to find his sea legs, and I admit ruefully that I just reached my cabin in time! Like Billy Millar on board the good ship 'Gascon' in 1906, so was Hattingh affected, and he bitterly lamented having left the undulating plains of his native Free State. Undulating 'tis true, but he could keep his feet firmly on them, which was more than he could do on the undulating deck of the 'Montevideo Maru'."

The team was housed at the Belgrano Club which Roos describes as palatial. They enjoyed the hospitality of the land of the tango and the best steaks in the world.

Paul Roos described the team as able to give most of the provinces in South Africa a good game.
Paul Roos said in his report: "What can I say of the boundless hospitality of our hosts? It was overpowering, and, what is more, it was obviously genuine. I trust that some day, some how, South Africa may have a chance of reciprocating."

"Some day" was 33 years later - and what a delight to rugby Argentina!


Junior Springboks vs Clubs Argentinos, 18-5
Junior Springboks vs Extranjeros, 35-8
Junior Springboks vs Argentina, 42-0
Junior Springboks vs CUBA, 30-0
Junior Springboks vs Argentina, 34-3
Junior Springboks vs UR del Litoral, 53-3
Junior Springboks vs CASI, 44-0
Junior Springboks vs Gimnasia y Esgrima, 11-5

The Junior Springboks team: J Nykamp, J Apsey, D Jordaan, RS Elliott, G Cunningham, H Wardrop, J Seymour, K Moodie, R Cornell, G D'Alton, J Gillett, J Robertson, A Gericke, A Smit, P McCarthy, B Nolte, W Wollheim, M Rest, JH Gage, J Townsend, FW Cheshire, L Hattingh, J Vlok

Of the team, Joe Nijkamp, John Apsey, George D'Alton, Jack Gage, who had played for Itrelanmd, and Louis Hattingh became Springboks.

Love the Christmas bells on the Bokke!!!  

Forgot again!

Thanks Ras  
As I am writing my family history, I am endeavouring to find out about my Uncle Riebeeck Elliot (or RS as he was referred to), my father's youngest brother. He was a Junior Springbok. He went back to Argentina after the 1932 Tour and the family lost contact. He married an Irish girl 'Ann ?) Enquiries to the Argentinian Embassy in SA just drew blanks years ago. I can be contacted on email  
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