France and Boks battle to a draw in Cape Town
John Palfrey
July 27, 2008

In the latest part of his tribute to France's historic trip to South Africa in 1958, John Palfrey recalls the week of the 1st Test against the Springboks.

With the 1st Test against South Africa looming, France had one more opportunity to sharpen their game against Orange Free State in Bloemfonein.

It would be a largely experimental line-up that would take to the field with Pierre Danos, usually a scrum half, featuring at at fullback in one of the notable changes.

Elsewhere winger Jacques Lepatey would be playing even though he hadn't fully recovered from the injury he sustained against Rhodesia in the opening match of the tour.

The match itself was another brutal encounter with numerous fights and both sides showing a willingness to meet fire with fire.

But with another physical battering came more injuries for the tourists with Michel Celaya, Pierre Lacroix and André Haget all suffering.

The final score was 11-11 but that was small consolation for the French who missed a relatively easy conversion that may have won them the game.

The Orange Free State players made sure the tourists left Bloemfontein with a stark warning rining in their ears - "In Capetown, the Springboks will kill you all!"

The South Africa pack was indeed built for a power game but France made sure they were ready.

Hooker Roger Vigier prepared the French scrum so they would be able to counter their opponents' power with prop Alfred Roques becoming its cornerstone.

In the meantime, Roger Martine explained to his team mates the "secrets" of the Lourdes back moves.

As a a result, for the first time ever France would play as a true team - and not just as a selection of players.

For the first half hour the battle was so fierce that both teams had forgotten to score but the visitors opened the scoring soon after with Danos slotting a difficult drop goal.

France held onto their narrow 3-0 lead until half-time and were unlucky not to go further ahead when Danos was later denied a try.

In the end the Springboks were rewarded for their own endeavours when No.8 Butch Lochner scored a try in the corner.

France handed their hosts a lesson in ball retention for the last ten minutes of the game but were unable to break the deadlock.

The final whistle came with the sides still level - France had once again impressed, holding the might Springboks despite losing winger Henri Rancoule to injury for the duration of the second half.

Tour Matches:

Saturday 12 July, Salisbury: Rhodesia. Won 19-0
Wednesday 16 July, Pretoria: Northern and Western Transvaal. Lost 18-19
Saturday 19 July, Springs: Eastern Transvaal, Natal and Transvaal. Won 16-14
Tuesday 22 July, Bloemfontein: Orange Free State, Griqualand West and South West Africa. Draw 11-11.
Saturday 26 July, Capetown: South Africa (1st test). Draw 3-3.
Wednesday 30 July, Wellington: Western Province, Bolan and South West Districts.
Saturday 2 August, Port-Elisabeth: Juniors Springboks.
Wednesday 6 August, East-London: Border, Eastern Province and North-Eastern Districts.
Saturday 9 August, Durban: South African Universities.
Saturday 16 August, Johannesburg : South Africa (2nd test)

Click here to read Part One - France emerge as a major force in world rugby

Click here to read Part Two - French tourists begin in style

Click here to read Part Three - French continue to make their mark

Click here for full details of the 1958 Test series between South Africa and France with ScrumStats

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