September 3 - 1949 Black Day for All Blacks

New Zealand rugby fans don’t like test losses at any time, but two on one day! That is something else. But this was what they had to face on 3 September 1949 when the All Blacks touring South Africa lost the third test in Johannesburg 3 – 9, though they had the small consolation of scoring the match’s only try, by centre Morrie Goddard. Some 12 hours earlier the “best of the rest” All Blacks had been beaten 11 – 6 by Australia in the first test.

It get’s worse. In all the All Blacks played six tests in 1949, four against South Africa and two versus Australia, and lost the lot. In mitigation, the All Blacks in South Africa, in a very close series, scored more tries (4) than the Springboks (3), and the Australian tourists were a handy side who lost just one of their twelve matches.

Some New Zealand fans would have taken consolation from results at home. There were nine first class fixtures in New Zealand on September 3 1949, as well as the test versus Australia, and some were noteworthy:

  • Otago beating Canterbury 16 – 12 on Lancaster Park, Christchurch. Historically in the 100 plus years they have been playing each other Otago has won a little over 25% of their away matches against Canterbury. So the 1949 win was pleasing for Otago fans. Though those same fans were possibly a little blasé in the late 1940s for Otago were arguably the best team in the country and the Ranfurly Shield holders 1947-1950. In 1949 Otago had eleven front line players in South Africa with the All Blacks but were still able to retain the Shield through six challenges. They also were able to promote a further four into the test matches against Australia, with one, wing Graham Moore, scoring the All Blacks’ only try in the first test.

  • Experienced prop Bill Mumm from Buller played in the test against Australia, a cause for celebration in the Buller union which does not often produce All Blacks. Even without him they were able to retain the prized Seddon Shield on September 3 with a 12 – 3 win over Marlborough. They had won the Shield off West Coast in August 1947 and this was the 10th challenge they had repelled. Buller in 1949 had a handy team, losing just one of their eleven matches. Highlight was undoubtedly their Ranfurly Shield challenge, a 6all draw with Otago, in a game in which “a little more enterprise could well have resulted in the trophy going to Westport” (1950 Rugby Almanack, p.80).

  • Another to enjoy the day was Golden Bay-Motueka who, in the last of their four match programme, had their only win on September 3, beating bigger neighbours Nelson 15 -3, and in Nelson too.

  • South Canterbury would have been pleased that the All Blacks’ only try in the test in Johannesburg was scored by one of their own, centre Morrie Goddard. They may have needed some cheering up, earlier in the day they had lost badly at home to Southland 0 -26.

So, September 3 1949 was a day when New Zealand rugby fans had to look hard to find something to enthuse about.

Morrie Goddard scored the All Blacks only try in the third Test v South Africa

Graham Moore scored the All Blacks only try in the first Test v Australia