December 22 down the years
Springboks claim narrow victory in Wales

Wales lost 6-3 to the Springboks at Cardiff Arms Park, a match billed as for the unofficial world championship. Chum Ochse gave the visitors the lead with an unconverted try and the ten minutes from time Hannes Brewis slotted the crucial 30-metre drop-goal. The Welsh pressed hard and the inspirational Bleddyn Williams scored the Welsh try but it was too late to make any difference. The Boks had already smashed Scotland at Murrayfield and defeated Ireland, setting up a Grand Slam which was achieved with victory over England. Remarkably the tourists also hopped across the channel to defeat France. Their only loss came to London Counties, leaving a tour record of played 31, won 30.

Andy Ripley was drafted into the England training squad but it cost him dearly as he had to pay for a flight back to London from his skiing holiday to attend the two-day get together before returning to Austria. In the days of the amateur he was not even allowed to claim back the money, merely getting the same allowance as the other players.

The pre-Christmas rush was perhaps thought to be a good time to bury bad news, hence the leak that England would be touring South Africa the following May. The RFU had been told of the government's opposition but that cut no ice. It did go ahead but a weakened England side lost both Tests and attracted considerable opprobrium.

Wales staged their first Test against overseas opposition, defeating the New Zealand 'Natives' team by a goal and two tries (five points in those days) to nil at Swansea. Welsh wing Norman Biggs became the youngest man (at 17) to play for Wales - a record that holds to this day.

The New Zealand Army Kiwis defeated London Counties 30-0 at White City. Welbecson Press (later Programme Publications) published British rugby's first-ever glossy magazine-type programme - a 24-page production with a blue, black and white cover.

A Welsh XV beat France 8-0 at Swansea in the first of the so-called "Victory" internationals - matches for which the Home Unions did not award caps. Cardiff supplied six of the seven Welsh backs, including Billy Darch at scrum-half as the mercurial Haydn Tanner was unable to travel back from service in Austria.

Dense fog blighted many of the day's games and causes the cancellation of the west country matches including Bristol v Cardiff and Bath v Exeter.


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