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July 25 down the years
New Zealand shame as Springbok match cancelled
Police confront protesters before the abandoned Waikato match © Unknown

A day which tarnished rugby's image when the Springboks' match against Waikato, the first Saturday fixture of the tour, was called off amid scenes of unprecedented violence. The authorities knew there would be trouble but despite that the police were unable to cope with the numbers of protestors. Around 300 invaded the pitch before the start - about 50 were arrested - but the main trouble came from elements in the 25,000 crowd who turned on the protestors, lobbing bottles and other objects at them. The final straw came with reports a stolen light aircraft was approaching the stadium and the police cancelled the match. The protesters were escorted from the ground under advice to remove any anti-apartheid insignia as large numbers of angry spectators were waiting to take out their frustration on them. Mobs waited outside Hamilton police station for arrested protesters to be processed and released and assaulted some of them.

South Africa held off a spirited revival from the All Blacks to register a 28-19 win in their Tri-Nations showdown at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein. Tries from fly-half Ruan Pienaar and centre Jacque Fourie saw the Springboks home along with the kicking exploits of fullback Frans Steyn and replacement No.10 Morne Steyn. The All Blacks rallied after the break with a try from centre Conrad Smith and three penalties from the boot of fly-half Stephen Donald but they were unable to overhaul the hosts.

Canterbury, who fielded ten past or future All Blacks, gave the best performance by a provincial side against Ronnie Dawson's team to down the Lions 20-14.

Irish wing Larry Bulger crossed for the first try hat-trick of the 1896 Lions tour, scoring against Port Elizabeth in a convincing seven-try, 26-3 win.

Five Smith brothers turned out for Bush against Wairarapa at Greytown (NZ). Full-back George, centre Bill and forwards Gordon, Bob and Campbell were in a 0-16 losing side and never again played together.

The Anglo-Welsh tourists were overwhelmed 29-0 in showery conditions in Auckland in the third and final Test of their series against the All Blacks. The rubber was lost 2-0 with the middle Test drawn.

John Solomon's Wallabies recorded one of the best wins of their South African tour, seeing off the cream of Hennie Muller's Western Province in a 13-11 win at Newlands.


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