1986 Cavaliers tour in South Africa
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Test match
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 South Africa
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The Cavaliers was an unofficial New Zealand rugby union team which toured South Africa in 1986. Because of the Apartheid policies of the South African government, the official New Zealand Rugby Union tour scheduled for 1985 was cancelled, and the Cavaliers tour was very controversial in New Zealand.

They played twelve matches, including a four-match test series against South Africa, which they lost 3—1.


After the intensely controversial 1981 South African tour of New Zealand, which had provoked nationwide protest and worldwide condemnation, the official All Black tour planned for 1985 was cancelled due to a legal ruling that it would be incompatible with the NZRFU's legally stated purpose: "...the fostering and encouragement of the game of rugby..."[1][2]

Of the 30 players who had been selected for the 1985 tour, only David Kirk and John Kirwan did not join the Cavaliers. The rebel team were widely believed to have received large secret payments—a controversial issue at a time when rugby union was still supposedly an amateur sport.[3]

The Cavaliers were coached by Colin Meads, managed by Ian Kirkpatrick and captained by Andy Dalton and won just one of the four matches against South Africa, although they won seven of their eight other games on the tour. Dalton suffered a broken jaw in the second match of the tour against Northern Transvaal and played no more rugby that season, Jock Hobbs assumed the captaincy for the test matches against the Springboks while Andy Haden did the same for the midweek matches.

The tour was widely condemned for touring apartheid South Africa, and very controversial within New Zealand,[4] and there were no future rugby contacts until the South African apartheid regime ended. The return test that marked the return of South Africa to official international Rugby Union in 1992 would again be held against a New Zealand side, this time the official All Blacks.

The players found that support for their actions was far less than they had expected. On their return, the NZRFU barred all the players from participating in the next two All Black tests, and instead selected a new group of players. Most of these replacement players were younger, and were quickly dubbed the "Baby Blacks".[5][6] Those new All Blacks went on to form the basis of one of the most successful periods in All Black rugby,[7] which resulted in a few Cavalier players struggling to get their places back.

It is, however, debatable to what extent the tour had a significant effect on the international careers of many of the players. The squad included players in the prime of their career, players approaching retirement anyway who had not recently played for New Zealand, and uncapped prospects, and as such, subsequent All Black appearances or a lack of these reflected this fact. 10 members of the Cavaliers (Fox, Taylor, Green, Crowley, Buck Shelford, both Whetton brothers, Anderson, Pierce, and McDowell) all subsequently played for the New Zealand side that won the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987, and Dalton was named in the squad for the World Cup, but withdrew following injury, and retired. Another 7 players (Osbourne, Clamp, Fraser, Deans, Donald, Crichton, and Frank Shelford) never played again for New Zealand, but their international careers were effectively over long before the tour had even begun, having not played for New Zealand for between 2 and 5 years beforehand. John Mills had never been capped at test level before the tour, and retired from both domestic and international rugby at the end of the season anyway, while Dave Loveridge and Jock Hobbs, both of whom had previously been capped internationally, similarly retired from all rugby at the end of the 1986 season owing to a knee injury and a series of concussions respectively.

Not being able to play in the official jersey, the team wore a black uniform, with bands of gold in honour of the tour sponsor, the South African Yellow Pages,[8] who also covered the stay expenses for the team.[8] The emblem consisted of a gold background with a green oval in which an upright silver fern accompanied by a Springbok appeared.[9]





Scores and results list New Zealand's points tally first.
Date Opponent Location Result Score
23 April Junior Springboks (Griquas Invitational XV) Johannesburg Won 22-21
26 April Northern Transvaal Pretoria Won 10-9
30 April Orange Free State Bloemfontein Won 31-9
3 May Transvaal Johannesburg Lost 19-24
6 May Western Province Cape Town Won 26-15
10 May South Africa (1) Newlands, Cape Town Lost 15-21
13 May Natal Durban Won 37-24
17 May South Africa (2) Kings Park, Durban Won 19-18
20 May South African Barbarians Johannesburg Won 42-13
24 May South Africa (3) Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria Lost 18-33
27 May Western Transvaal Potchefstroom Won 26-18
31 May South Africa (4) Ellis Park, Johannesburg Lost 10-24[11]

See also


  1. ^ "Fictions in the Thought of Sir John Salmond - [1999] VUWLRev 32; (1999) 30 VUWLR 159". Archived from the original on 15 September 2009. Retrieved 9 November 2009.
  2. ^ "NZRFU injunction cartoon". NZ History. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  3. ^ "Cavaliers rugby tour, 1986".
  4. ^ Mortimer, Gavin (2 September 2007). "Black gold". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  5. ^ "Oral History: The day the All Blacks grew up". NZ Herald. 25 June 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  6. ^ Richards, Huw (22 April 2016). "All Blacks rebel tour that created a split with New Zealand public". ESPN. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  7. ^ Morrison, Iain. "Remembering rebel All Blacks tour of apartheid South Africa". The Scotsman. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  8. ^ a b Eric Marsden (23 April 1986). "Striking gold on rugby fields of South Africa". The Glasgow Herald. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  9. ^ "New Zealand Cavaliers Rugby Jersey matchworn!".
  10. ^ Replacement player on tour.
  11. ^ South Africa (6) 24 - 10 (10) New Zealand Cavaliers, www.espnscrum.com, retrieved 21 November 2013.