Great Springbok Tries: Hennie Le Roux vs England 1994
(Written by Lucas in 2003 for Amabokke)
The Springboks versus England. Test matches between these great adversaries always produce some exhilarating moments of brilliance and over the years magnificent tries were scored when these teams met. In 1984, the superlative Danie Gerber dummy-and-sidestepped his way into rugby legend with a swashbuckling hat trick of tries against Bill Beaumont’s touring team.
A long-drawn-out decade later, South Africa - only two seasons back in the international fold from the depths of isolation welcomed an experienced England team under Will Carling for a two-test series.
England played poorly in their opening matches losing four out of five games as the provincial teams put them to the sword and every man and his dog predicted the visitors to be mere cannon fodder for the green and gold. Alas not, the first test in Pretoria prompted Paul Ackford to write, “Hold the obituaries, England are alive and kicking.” And kicking they did, Rob Andrew’s 27-point contribution was a then record for his country, and Ian McIntosh’s Springboks were blasted out of the water, 32-15!
Mac, from the wild eyes and immense rugby passion fame quickly realised the substantial pressure that descends upon a losing Springbok coach and made some sweeping changes amongst the forwards for the crucial second test. Also, with his well-known analytical and tactical mastery he identified a potential England weakness during the first test, one the Springboks could exploit.
The laws of the game at that stage allowed loose forwards to break away from the scrum before the ball was out and England, using this tactic, effectively neutralised many of the Springbok’s blind side moves. Mac devised a counter-move, code-named “Oros” to exploit the early departure of the England flanks. Simply it meant keeping the ball under the eightman’s feet when the flanks broke free, then initiate an extra shove and once they (flanks) returned to aid the retreating scrum the ball was spun wide.
The day of the second test arrived and from the kick off it was clear this Springbok team was playing with the pride and the passion of an illustrious past. Led by Francois Pienaar the team included first cap Mark Andrews who in a baptism of fire acquitted himself well in the lineouts, dominated the previous week by Tim Rodber. The Springboks importantly secured and protected their own ball and one of the early forays deep into English territory created an opportunity for “Oros”.
A packed Newlands stadium witnessed the move unfold exactly as the Springboks planned. Johan Roux made the call, Adriaan Richter at no 8 collected the ball and broke around the blind side passing to his captain Francois Pienaar who with a brilliant reverse pass found Hennie Le Roux running back on the angle, at tremendous pace and with clockwork timing. The confused flanks were unable to stop the strong burst and he crashed over the line for a magnificent try!
The Springboks claimed the lead, one they never relinquished and a fine Andre Joubert try sealed England’s fate, in the process handing the Springboks their first post-isolation win on home soil, 27-9. The majority of this team further distinguished themselves the following year on the sport’s greatest stage - the Rugby World Cup ‘95!