200 Years in History (33/52): The Knights are rocking the planet

200 Years in History (33/52): The Knights are rocking the planet

Thirty years ago, the Bucks embarked on a pirate tour of banned nations in South Africa. This adventure shook the principles of amateurism and the strength of the unions.

The spring of 1986 was the scene of one of the largest earthquakes in history. A New Zealand team toured South Africa, despite the country being boycotted by apartheid. In principle, the All Blacks should have left for South Africa in 1985, but this tour was canceled at the last minute after legal action by two Auckland lawyers, which upset the players.

The two leading nations of the southern hemisphere still meet the following year. Except that in 1986, this New Zealand team did not wear an official All Blacks crest. They look great because, with two exceptions, they are the exact replica of the selection that should have been left a year ago. In its ranks are big names like hooker and captain Andy Dalton, second line Andy Haden and Gary Wetton, No. 8 Murray Mixted or Wayne Shelford, forward Jock Hobbs, half-volley Grant Fox. It is run by two ‘monuments’ from the 1960s, Colin Meads and Ian Kirkpatrick.

Only two internationals withdrew: John Kirwan, a young winger who scored in Italy, and the other half David Kirk, who remained true to his convictions (but the South African stamp on his visa is said to prove he hesitated until the last moment). This huge percentage shows how willing players are to challenge established authorities and even public opinion.

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The Springboks’ sarcastic nod to prosecutors

The Cavaliers affair coupled with a financial side ends up causing trouble. This is the Springboks’ sarcastic wink to the prosecutors. The boycott has turned their country into a “gray area” for international rugby. Since official and amateur rugby did not want them, South Africa decided to sow discord by “inviting” top players…not for nothing. It is rumored that the New Zealanders have received the equivalent of 440,000 francs in a closed account in Hong Kong. In the manoeuvre, Louis Lute, president of Transvaal, and Robert Denton, director of Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

The Blakes are tired of wearing cleats for cherry tails. These matches they will play. Who can stop them anyway? “As an individual, I see no reason why the All Blacks shouldn’t go to South Africa. We don’t agree with that situation but we can’t do anything about it.”Comments from New Zealand Prime Minister David Lange. Players fly in small groups or solo. Andy Haden sulfur fights his way through the hostile protesters. Everyone meets in johannesburg. Meads, Kirkpatrick and Dalton kicked off the tour with a press release calling themselves “The Horsemen” to avoid any derogatory nicknames.

For the first time, an international team is in charge without the supervision of the federations. Players are invited with their families to the palaces, and they wear the emblems of major equipment manufacturers during training. South Africa does not lack wealth, great stadiums, great companies and powerful TV channels, moreover, Cavaliers matches are sponsored by two private partners: Toyota and the yellow pages of the directory. The twelve matches are played in full stadiums and 13 million francs are left in the coffers of the South African Football Association. The SARFU even awards an official header to the four Test matches. The Boks have won three and concede a fourth by one point. Center Danny Gerber, Flying Half Captain Nas Botha and Hooker Uli Schmidt have a blast. Complete disdain for South Africans.

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Everyone understands that after this baroque experience, rugby will never be the same again. The power of unions is fading because professionalization has become inevitable. Neither the International Board nor the New Zealand Federation would really dare punish the dissident All Blacks. The authorities prefer to remain soft because they know that a harsh reaction can blow everything up. The excluded players could launch their own professional circuit, and South Africa is said to have a repeat World Cup project in their bins.

The Rebels will only receive a two-game suspension. A year later, ten Cavaliers would be selected for their first World Cup. An investigation launched to determine if the players actually received money will never succeed.

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