Cavaliers left lifelong memories for 1986 Springbok players

1986 Cavaliers squad (Photosport)
1986 Cavaliers squad (Photosport)

While the All Blacks put South Africa to the sword two weeks ago, 30 years ago they shared a very different relationship.

Rogue All Blacks toured as "The Cavaliers" during the apartheid era.

At the time many kiwis were again split over sport and politics.

But many South Africans remember it quite differently.

King's Park's boot parties are much the same as 30 years ago.

1986 Springbok flanker Wahl Bartmann's pre-test rituals have changed though.

He now enjoys a corporate box and a few memories of the 3-1 series win over the Cavaliers.

"I had to change my shorts , and my back was full of scars because they rucked me," said Bartmann.

"it was great, it was very good for South African rugby as well to have that tour in South Africa."

Apartheid created a sporting isolation that made Springbok tests rare, and cherished.

Albert Heenop, a sports journalist who covered the story thinks of two words tp describe what the Cavaliers meant to the South African rugby public.

"All Blacks," he said.

Andy Dalton and Ian Kirkpatrick went to great pains to explain to South Africans "we are not the All Blacks"

Local fans felt the absence of John Kirwan, David Kirk and the jersey were the only differences.

Heenop says they were taking greater notice of other changes.

"Four years before Mandela was released.

"We were on the road to democracy and there was no turning back."

Springboks halfback Cobus Reinach learnt about the Cavaliers through a jersey hanging at home.

"There's Springbok ones and Cheetahs ones, and this particular black one and we never understood where it came from and dad explained to us the All Blacks came."

His late father Jaco played his only four tests that year in that series.

He dotted down twice, once in Durban, at the ground Cobus now calls home.

"They shouted 'here is speed, here is speed, Jaco Reinach', that is famous words I remember from my Dad."

The team's biggest stars were probably playmaker Naas Botha and powerful centre Danie Gerber.

Heenop wishes the political turmoil at the time could have been put on hold for rugby, and history may have painted a different picture as far as the All Blacks and Springboks go.

"It would have been interesting to see how the 1986 Springbok side would have gone in the 1987 World Cup.

"I still think it's one of the greatest Springbok sides of all time.

"It meant 86 was their sole chance to show their true greatness."

Two countries calling them different names, one of many reasons the Cavaliers have a unique place in rugby history.