1906–07 South Africa rugby union tour of Europe

The 1906–07 South Africa tour of Europe was a collection of friendly rugby union games undertaken by the South Africa national 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.

1906–07 South Africa rugby union tour of Europe
Springboks london 1906.jpg
The South Africa touring squad
photographed in London
ManagerCecil Carden
Tour captain(s)Paul Roos
29 26 01 02
Test match
05 03 01 01
1 0 0 1
1 1 0 0
1 1 0 0
1 0 1 0
1 1 0 0
Tour chronology
Next tour1912–13 Europe

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 sports-themed South African novelty song "The Springboks' Waltz" was released in 1906 to commemorate the tour.[1]

The 1906 Springboks were "the first national team to utilize the 3–4–1 formation".[2]

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.

Touring partyEdit

Match summaryEdit

Complete list of matches played by the Springboks in Europe:[3]

  Test matches

The first match of the tour, v. East Midlands
The Springboks v. Cambridge University
After a try, Springboks' captain Roos places the ball for Morkel to convert the said try v. France
# Date Opponents City Venue Score
1 26 Sep East Midlands Northampton 37–0
2 29 Sep Midland Counties Leicester 29–0
3 3 Oct Kent RU Blackheath Rectory Field 21–0
4 6 Oct Durham RU Hartlepool 22–4
5 10 Oct Northumberland RU Newcastle St James' Park 44–0
6 13 Oct Yorkshire RU Leeds Headingley Stadium 34–0
7 17 Oct Devon RU Devonport 22–6
8 20 Oct Somerset RU Taunton 14–0
9 24 Oct Middlesex RU Richmond 9–0
10 27 Oct Newport RFC Newport Rodney Parade 8–0
11 31 Oct Glamorgan County Cardiff Arms Park 6–3
12 3 Nov Gloucestershire RU Gloucester Town Club 23–0
13 7 Nov Oxford University Oxford 24–3
14 10 Nov Cambridge University Cambridge 29–0
15 13 Nov The South Hawick Mansfield Park 32–5
16 17 Nov   Scotland Glasgow Hampden Park 0–6
17 20 Nov The North Aberdeen Pittodrie Stadium 35–3
18 24 Nov   Ireland Belfast Balmoral Showground 15–12
19 27 Nov Dublin University Dublin Lansdowne Road 28–3
20 1 Dec   Wales Swansea St. Helen's 11–0
21 8 Dec   England London Crystal Palace 3–3
22 12 Dec Lancashire RU Manchester Fallowfield Stadium 11–8
23 15 Dec Cumberland Carlisle Devonshire Park 21–0
24 19 Dec Surrey RU Richmond 20–0
25 22 Dec Cornwall Redruth 9–3
26 26 Dec Monmouthshire Newport Rodney Parade 17–0
27 29 Dec Llanelli RFC Llanelli Stradey Park 16–3
28 1 Jan 1907 Cardiff Cardiff Arms Park 0–17
29 3 Jan 1907   France Paris Parc des Princes 55–6
Pl W D L Ps Pc
29 26 1 2 595 141

Match detailsEdit


17 October
Devon RU 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)


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


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


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


24 November
Ireland   12–15   South Africa
Try: Sugars (2), Maclear
Pen: Parke
Report Try: Loubser (2), Krige,
Pen: Joubert
Balmoral Showgrounds, Belfast
Attendance: 15,000
Referee: JD Tulloch (Scotland)


1 December
Wales   0–11   South Africa
Report Try: Joubert, Loubser,
Con: Joubert
St. Helen's, Swansea
Attendance: 45,000
Referee: Arthur Owen Jones (England)

Before the game hopes were high that the Welsh would be able to see off the South African threat.[5] As one commentator wrote, "There was nothing in the South African's play to forbid Welsh hopes of repeating their success of last season...",[6] 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.[6] 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.[7] 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"[8]

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.[5] 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
Report Try: Millar
Crystal Palace, London
Attendance: 40,000
Referee: JD Tulloch (Scotland)


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


29 December
Llanelli 3–16 South Africa
Try: Evans Try: Loubser (2)
Con: D. Morkel (2)
Pen: D. Morkel
Stradey Park
Attendance: 15,000[9]
Referee: F. Marsh (England)

The Springboks had a magnificent reception from a crowd of 15,000.[9] 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
Cardiff 17–0 South Africa
Try: Nicholls, Gibbs,
Williams, Gabe
Con: Winfield
Pen: Winfield
Arms Park, Cardiff
Attendance: 27,000
Referee: G. Evans (England)


3 January 1907
France   6–55   South Africa
Try: Purves, Jerome
Try: Dobbin (3), Mare (2), Loubser (2)
Martheze (2), Hirsch (2), Reid, Raaff
Con: Mare (8)

France does not include this match in its official records and no caps were awarded.[10]


  • Billot, John (1974). Springboks in Wales. Ferndale: Ron Jones Publications.
  • Parry-Jones, David (1999). Prince Gwyn, Gwyn Nicholls and the First Golden Era of Welsh Rugby. Bridgend: seren. ISBN 1-85411-262-7.
  • Thomas, Wayne (1979). A Century of Welsh Rugby Players. Ansells Ltd.
  • Smith, David; Williams, Gareth (1980). Fields of Praise: The Official History of The Welsh Rugby Union. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. ISBN 0-7083-0766-3.


  1. ^ Brendan Gallagher (28 September 2006). "About rugby: The Boks stopped here a century ago". Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  2. ^ Nauright, John (1997). Sport, cultures and identities in South Africa (1. publ. ed.). London [u.a.]: Leicester Univ. Press. p. 42. ISBN 9780718500498.
  3. ^ The History of South African Rugby on Rugby Football History website rugbyfootballhistory.com, 2007. Retrieved December 22, 2021.
  4. ^ "Making rugby history". The BBC. 29 January 2008. Retrieved 24 July 2008.
  5. ^ a b Parry-Jones (1999), p. 188.
  6. ^ a b Parry-Jones (1999), p. 180.
  7. ^ Parry-Jones (1999), p. 181.
  8. ^ Parry-Jones (1999), p. 186.
  9. ^ a b "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 Llanelli 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 crowd of 15,000.
  10. ^ "South Africa tour 1906-07". en.espn.co.uk/. ESPN. Retrieved 22 December 2021.