1906–07 South Africa rugby union tour

The 1906–07 South Africa tour of Britain, Ireland and France was a collection of friendly rugby union games undertaken by the South Africa national rugby union team against the four British Home Nation teams. The tour also took in several matches against British and Irish club, county and invitational teams before finally travelling to France to play the national team.

This was the inaugural South Africa tour and is recognised as the event that coined the phrase Springboks as a nickname for the South African team.

The 1906 Springboks were "the first national team to utilize the 3–4–1 formation".[1]

The tour was extremely successful for the South Africans which helped garner respect from the Northern Hemisphere teams and established South Africa as a formidable rugby playing country. In the tests played the team would only lose to Scotland and drew against England. The South African defeat of Wales was a shock to many critics and ended the international careers of some of the greatest Welsh players of the time. Out of 29 matches played, South Africa won 26, lost two and drew one.


26 September 1906
East Midlands 0 - 37  South Africa XV

29 September 1906
Midlands 0 - 29  South Africa XV

3 October 1906
Kent Kent 0 - 21  South Africa XV
Rectory Field,Blackheath

6 October 1906
Durham Durham, England 4 - 22  South Africa XV

10 October 1906
Northumberland Northumberland 0 - 44  South Africa XV

13 October 1906
Yorkshire Yorkshire 0 - 34  South Africa XV

17 October 1906
Devon Devon 6 - 22  South Africa XV

20 October 1906
Somerset Somerset 0 - 14  South Africa XV

24 October 1906
Middlesex Middlesex 0 - 9  South Africa XV

27 October 1906
Newport 0 - 8  South Africa XV

31 October 1906
Glamorgan County Glamorgan 3 - 6  South Africa XV

3 November 1906
Gloucestershire RFU Gloucestershire 0 - 23  South Africa XV
Town Club, Gloucester

7 November 1906
Oxford University 3 - 24  South Africa XV

10 November 1906
Cambridge University 0 - 29  South Africa XV

13 November 1906
The South 5 - 32  South Africa XV

17 November 1906
Scotland  6 - 0  South Africa
Try: MacLeod, Purves

20 November 1906
The North 3 - 35  South Africa XV

24 November 1906
Ireland  12 - 15  South Africa
Balmoral Showground, Belfast
Attendance: 15.000
Referee: JD Tulloch Scotland

27 November 1908
Dublin University 3 - 28  South Africa XV

1 December 1906
Wales  0 - 11  South Africa

8 December 1906
England  3 - 3  South Africa
Crystal Palace, London

12 December 1906
Lancashire Lancashire 8 - 11  South Africa XV

15 December 1906
Cumberland Cumberland 0 - 21  South Africa XV
Devonshire Park, Carlisle

19 December 1906
Surrey Surrey 0 - 20  South Africa XV

22 December 1906
Cornwall Cornwall 3 - 9  South Africa XV

26 December 1906
Monmoutshire Monmouthshire (historic) 0 - 17  South Africa XV

29 December 1906
Llanelli RFC 3 - 16  South Africa XV

1 January 1907
Cardiff 17 - 0  South Africa XV

3 January 1907
France XV France 6 - 55  South Africa XV

Touring party


Full backs


Half backs


The matches


17 October
Devon Devon XV 6–22  South Africa
Try: Roberts
Pen Lillicrapp
Try: Dobbin (2)
Con D Morkel (2)
Pen D Morkel (2)
Plymouth County Ground
Attendance: 18,000
Referee: Mr E. Williams England (England)

Devon: F Lillicrapp (Albion), AJR Roberts (Exeter), J. Schulz (R.N. College, Dartmouth), De Smidt (Plymouth), F SCott (Bristol), R Jago (Albion), J Peters (Plymouth), W Mills (Albion), SG Williams, (Albion), J Cummings (Albion), EW Roberts (R.N. College, Dartmouth), TS Kelly (London Harlequins), GD Roberts (Exeter), Dix (R.N. College, Dartmouth), G Farr, (Torquay)

South Africa: AF Marsberg, JD Krige, JA Loubser, FJ Dobbin, P Roos (capt.), WA Burger, PA le Roux, DJ Brink, WC Martheze, JWE Raaff, WS Morkel, JG Hirsch, A Stegmann, HW Carolin, DF Morkel

The South African match against Devon is noted for events that occurred before the game began. On the day Devon fielded England international James Peters, the first black player to be capped for his country. On learning they would be facing a black player, the South Africans refused to take to the field. The South African High Commissioner, who was in the crowd, approached the Springboks and successfully persuaded them to play.[2]


27 October
Newport, Wales Newport 0–8  South Africa
Try: Stegmann (2)
Con:D Morkel
Rodney Parade
Attendance: 19,000
Referee: Gil Evans England(Birmingham)

Newport: Dai Boots, Reg Plummer, WH Gunstone, S Adams, WR Thomas, Walter Martin, Tommy Vile, Charlie Pritchard capt., Edwin Thomas Maynard, Jehoida Hodges, William Dowell, Ernie Jenkins, H Davies, Harry Wetter, George Boots

South Africa: AF Marsberg, JD Krige, JS le Roux, FJ Dobbin, P Roos (capt.), WA Burger, PA le Roux, DJ Brink, AC Stegmann, JWE Raaff, HA de Villiers, DC Jackson, D Brooks, DS Mare, DF Morkel


31 October
Glamorgan Glamorgan 3–6  South Africa
Try: Joseph Try: Stegmann (2)
Cardiff Arms Park
Attendance: 40,000
Referee: A.O. Jones England(Leicester)

Glamorgan: Bert Winfield (Cardiff), Hopkin Maddock (London Welsh), Billy Trew (Swansea), Rhys Gabe (Cardiff), Teddy Morgan (London Welsh) (capt.), H Toft (Swansea), Dicky Owen (Swansea), John Alf Brown (Cardiff), G Northmore (Cardiff), Billy O'Neill (Cardiff), Dai Jones (Aberdare), Jack Williams (London Welsh), Will Joseph (Cardiff), H Hunt (Cardiff), Dick Thomas (Mountain Ash)

South Africa: AF Marsberg, JA Loubser, JD Krige, FJ Dobbin, P Roos (capt.), WA Burger, DJ Brink, AC Stegmann, JWE Raaff, HA de Villiers, D Brooks, HW Carolin, DF Morkel, WS Morkel, WA Millar


17 November
Scotland Scotland 6–0  South Africa
Try: Purves
Hampden Park
Attendance: 32,500
Referee: HH Corley Republic of Ireland(Ireland)

Scotland: JG Scoular, KG MacLeod, T Sloan, MW Walter, ABHL Purves, LL Greig capt., P Munro, HG Monteith, IC Geddes, JC MacCallum, David Bedell-Sivright, GM Frew, LM Spiers, WP Scott, WH Thomson

South Africa: AFW Marsberg, AC Stegmann, HA de Villiers, JD Kriege, JA Loubser, HW Carolin capt., FJ Dobbin, WAG Burger, HJ Daneel, DJ Brink, D Brooks, JWE Raaff, AF Burdett, WS Morkel, DS Maré


24 November
 Ireland 12–15  South Africa
Try: Sugars (2)
Pen: Parke
Try: Loubser (2)
Balmoral Ground
Attendance: 15,000
Referee: JD Tulloch Scotland(Scotland)

Ireland GJ Henebrey, HB Thrift, RPC Gotto, James Cecil Parke, Basil Maclear, TTH Robinson, ED Caddell, A Tedford, CE Allen capt., HS Sugars, GT Hamlet, M White, G McIldowie, HG Wilson, JJ Coffey

South Africa: SJ Joubert, AC Stegmann, JH Hirsh, JD Krige, JA Loubser, DC Jackson, HW Carolin, WAG Burger, HJ Daneel, AF Burdett, PJ Roos capt., WC Martheze, DFT Morkel, WS Morkel, PA Le Roux


1 December
Wales Wales 0–11  South Africa
Try: Joubert
Raaff (c)
Con: Joubert
St. Helens
Attendance: 40,000+
Referee: Arthur Owen Jones England(England)

Wales: John Dyke (Penarth), Teddy Morgan (London Welsh), Gwyn Nicholls (Cardiff) capt., Rhys Gabe (Cardiff), Johnnie Williams (Cardiff), Percy Bush (Cardiff), Dicky Owen (Swansea), Will Joseph (Swansea), George Travers, (Pill Harriers), Dai Jones (Treherbert), Arthur Harding (London Welsh), Jack Jenkins (London Welsh), Jack Williams (London Welsh), Charlie Pritchard (Newport), Dick Thomas, (Mountain Ash)

South Africa: AF Marsberg, S Joubert, HA de Villiers, JD Krige, JA Loubser, DC Jackson, FJ Dobbin, P Roos capt., WA Burger, HJ Daneel, PA le Roux, DJ Brink, WC Martheze, JWE Raaff, WS Morkel

Before the game hopes were high that the Welsh would be able to see off the South African threat.[3] As one commentator wrote, "There was nothing in the South African's play to forbid Welsh hopes of repeating their success of last season...",[4] harking back to Wales' famous victory over the All Blacks. When a Glamorgan XV team, which contained many Welsh caps that were to face South Africa, could only manage a drew against Gloucester, it caused some people to re-think the team's chances of winning.[4] This caused an outcry for Welsh star, Gwyn Nicholls, to come out of international retirement to face South Africa. Even the South African players' voiced their disappointment at not facing Nicholls on the pitch.[5] When Billy Trew withdrew from the Glamorgan XV against Monmouthshire on 22 November, Nicholls was the surprise replacement, and a few days later Nicholls told the Daily Mirror that he intended to "have a shot at the Springboks"[6]

On the day of the match, South Africa were without some of their star players, including lead try scorer Stegmann, who had suffered a leg strain in the Belfast encounter. However, captain and talisman Paul Roos was back in the squad though sporting a heavy pad on his injured shoulder.[3] The weather on the day was dry and the hard pitch suited the visitors. After an aggressive but blunt opening from the hosts, the South Africans found their pace and quickly took advantage. By half time the tourist were 6–0 ahead with tries from Joubert and Loubser. Gwyn Nicholls had a particularly poor game, wasting a panicked kick from Marsberg in the first half and throughout the game he and Gabe were so tightly marked that they were ineffective. In the second half it was a Nicholls error that handed the Springboks their third try when he caught a high ball safely, only to release it into open play. 'Klondyke' Raaff dribbled the ball away and scored a try that Joubert duly converted. The final result was 11–0 to the visitors; the majority of Welsh crowd were silenced by such a terrible result, though enough good-will was shown to carry captain Roos, and the constantly impressive Marsberg from the pitch.

After the games there were many ramifications for the Welsh team. The papers stated that the weakness shown by the forwards, and too many old players in the pack, were the reasons for the poor Welsh display. The Welsh Rugby Union reacted to the press comments by dropping many of the players from international rugby. Those players that would never again represent their country included, Dai Jones, Will Joseph, Gwyn Nicholls and Jack Williams; just one year after the legendary game against the All Blacks.


8 December
 England 3–3  South Africa
Try: Brooks Try: Millar
Crystal Palace
Attendance: 40,000
Referee: JD Tulloch Scotland(Scotland)

England: JGG Birkett, A Alcock, EJ 'John' Jackett, Freddie Brooks, CH Shaw, R Dibble, W Mills, HE Shewring, T Simpson, BA Hill, VH Cartwright, TS Kelly, J Green, AD Stoop, R Jago

South Africa: SJ Joubert, AFW Marsberg, HA de Villiers, SC de Melker, JA Loubser, DC Jackson, FJ Dobbin, WA Millar, HJ Daneel, DJ Brink, PJ Roos capt., JWE Raaff, DFT Morkel, WS Morkel, PA Le Roux


26 December
Monmouthshire (historic) Monmouthshire 0–17  South Africa
Try: Jackson
Con: Mare
Rodney Parade
Referee: A. Sloper England(London, England)

Monmouthshire: Jack Roberts (Blaina), Llew Llewellyn (Pill Harriers), John Hart Evans (Pontypool), Jack P. Jones (Pontypool), Billy Bowen (Abertillery), James Jones (Pontypool), Dai Beynon (Pontypool), Ernie Williams (Pontnewydd), George Travers (capt.) (Pill Harriers), Jake Blackmore (Abertillery), Jim Webb (Abertillery), Rees Thomas (Pontypool),Jack Foley (Brynmawr), Jack Jones (Cwmbran), Jack Jenkins (London Welsh)


29 December
Wales Llanelli 3–16  South Africa
Try: Evans Try: Loubser (2)
Con: D. Morkel (2)
Pen: D. Morkel
Stradey Park
Attendance: 15,000[7]
Referee: F. Marsh England(South Shields, England)

Llanelli: G. Thomas, William Richard Arnold, Rhys Gabe, G. Rowe, W. Thomas, H. Thomas, D. Lloyd, J. Auckland, Harry Vaughan Watkins, H. Cole, G. Dobbs, J. Watts, Nathaniel Walters capt., W. Cole, T. Evans

South Africa AFW Marsberg, JA Loubser, JG Hirsch, HA de Villiers, AC Stegmann, DC Jackson, FJ Dobbin, PJ Roos capt., WAG Burger, WA Millar DJ Brink, D Brooks, HJ Danell, DFT Morkel, JWE Raaff

The Springboks had a magnificent reception from a crown of 15,000.[7] The South Africans started on an attack, but the Llanelli forwards soon rallied, resulting in a try that placed the Welshmen ahead. For the remainder of the first half the Springboks persistently pressed, eventually succeeding in piercing the Welsh defence, resulting in a converted try.

The Springboks were leading 5 to 3 at the interval. After the start of the second half the Welsh made a determined effort, but the Springboks forwards gained supremacy which they maintained. Towards the end of the game the Springbok scored with a succession of backline movements, resulting in two tries for Loubser. One of these tries was converted and a penalty goal was added, for the 16 to 3 final score.


1 January
Wales Cardiff 17–0  South Africa
Con: Winfield
Cardiff Arms Park
Attendance: 27,000
Referee: G. Evans England(Birmingham, England)

Cardiff: Bert Winfield, Cecil Biggs, Rhys Gabe, Gwyn Nicholls, Johnnie Williams, Percy Bush capt., Reggie Gibbs, Dickie David, Alfred Brice, G Northmore, Jack Powell, F Smith, John Alf Brown, J Casey, Billy O'Neill

South Africa: AFW Marsberg, JA Loubser, JG Hirsh, HA de Villiers, AG Stegmann, DC Jackson, FJ Dobbin, PJ Roos, capt., WA Millar, DFT Morkel, DJ Brink, HJ Daneel, PA le Roux, JWE Raaff, DS Mare


3 January
 France 6–55  South Africa
Try: Purves
Try: Dobbin (3)
Mare (2)
Loubser (2)
Martheze (2)
Hirsch (2)
Con:Mare (8)

France do not include this match in their official records and no caps were awarded.



  1. Nauright, John (1997). Sport, cultures and identities in South Africa (1. publ. ed.). London [u.a.]: Leicester Univ. Press. p. 42. ISBN 9780718500498.
  2. "Making rugby history". The BBC. 29 January 2008. Retrieved 24 July 2008.
  3. 1 2 Parry-Jones (1999), pg 188.
  4. 1 2 Parry-Jones (1999), pg 180.
  5. Parry-Jones (1999), pg 181.
  6. Parry-Jones (1999), pg 186.
  7. 1 2 "Rugby: The Springboks tour match with Llanelly". Rhodesia Herald. Harare, Zimbabwe. 28 February 1908. p. 13. London, December 29th – The match between the "Springboks" and Llanolly was brought off at the latter place yesterday in cold weather, the turf being in soft condition. The "Springboks" had a magnificent reception from a crown of 15,000.
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