The Tour - Background
It was election year and Prime Minister Rob Muldoon wanted to ensure the Springboks played in provincial cities like Gisborne for the first time since 1965. South Africa's apartheid policy and New Zealand's consistent sporting contacts throughout the 1970s had caused much consternation, and yet all pleas to cancel the tour fell on deaf ears. So on the Poho-o-Rawiri Marae in Gisborne, on July 19th, 1981, the Springboks had their first taste of New Zealand hospitality. None of us could anticipate that this country was about to descend into near civil war, a war played out twice a week as the Springboks moved from city to city. As Robyn Janes reports, the battle of tactics began in Gisborne before that first game against Poverty Bay. We're joined by the manager of that 1981 Poverty Bay team, Grant Allen, and first five eighth John Whittle.
The blue and red squads were formed for riot and crowd control and the long batons were introduced along with skirmish lines. But the first blows weren't at a game and they didn't involve the riot squads, they happened outside Parliament in what became known as the Molesworth Street batoning. John Sellwood was there in 1981, and returns 25 years on. We speak to Pete Carrington, who was with the blue squad and says police were in a no win situation.
Hell Breaks Loose
The day of that third test in Auckland, the last game of the tour, all hell broke loose. The hardcore protesters were joined by opportunists just wanting a fight with police, and they got it. Police were pelted with rocks and missiles, forcing a brief retreat, while security at the ground was supposedly the tightest of the tour. What they didn't count on was a man by the name of Marx Jones and a hired cessna. Marx Jones joins us along with the All Black first five that day, Doug Rollerson.