Flashback: South Africa snatch victory at the death

Date published: December 14 2016

In the latest edition of our series, we look back at this week in history and pick out a key moment from rugby’s archives.

In 1960 South Africa toured Europe to play Tests against Wales, Ireland, England, Scotland and France. They were able to claim the grand slam over the Home Nations but settled for a draw against France. The tourists almost lost to a spirited Ireland side, but a second-half comeback secured them the win.

December 17, 1960

It was a long tour for South Africa who played 34 matches over five months as they clashed with prominent clubs in Europe as well. They started the tour with a win over Wales before travelling to Ireland for what would prove to be a tough clash.

The two sides played in front of a big 40,000 strong crowd on a freezing cold day at Lansdowne Road in Dublin.

The Irish drew first blood when full-back Tom Kiernan kicked over a penalty just in front of the posts to gain them the lead. The penalty would be the only points of the first-half with the Irish going into the second half in the lead 3-0.

The South Africans were strong throughout the game but couldn’t quite pierce a solid Irish defence. That ended when the visitors swung the ball wide to outside centre John Gainsford who scored in the corner but the South Africans couldn’t convert.

A draw was on the cards for the Irish until, in the dying minutes of the match, as it went into overtime the Springboks utilised a scrum close to the Irish line well and pushed over for their second try which secured them the win.

After the game Irish skipper Ronnie Dawson said the Springboks were the deserved victors.

“We thought we had snatched a draw until those final minutes,” he said.

“But we couldn’t complain. After all, the Springboks did cross our line twice, and missed four penalties they should have kicked.”

The scorers:

For Ireland:

For South Africa:
Van Zyl, Gainsford
Con: Gainsford

Ireland: 15 Tom Kiernan, 14 Walter Bornemann, 13 Jerry Walsh, 12 Cecil Pedlow, 11 Niall Brophy, 10 William Armstrong, 9 Andy Mulligan, 8 Tony O’Sullivan, 7 James Kavanagh, 6 Noel Murphy, 5 Gerry Culliton, 4 Bill Mulcahy, 3 Gordon Wood, 2 Ronnie Dawson (c), 1 Syd Millar

South Africa: 15 Lionel Wilson, 14 Jannie Engelbrecht, 13 John Gainsford, 12 Ian Kirkpatrick, 11 Hennie van Zyl, 10 Keith Oxlee, 9 Dick Lockyear, 8 Attie Baard, 7 Martin Pelser, 6 Hugo van Zyl, 5 Johan Claassen, 4 Avril Malan (c), 3 Piet du Toit, 2 Ronnie Hill, 1 Fanie Kuhn

Referee: GJ Treharne