The first All Black vs Springbok test match: 40 years ago this month

It was the 40th anniversary of the first 1981 test match between the All Blacks and the Springboks on 15 August.

Negative strip from the Christchurch Star Archive showing Springbok rugby tour protesters and police, opens a new window
Crowds of Springbok rugby tour protesters, 15 August 1981, Christchurch Star Archive, CCL-Star-1981-5022-001-080N-03, opens a new window.
Negative strip from the Christchurch Star Archive showing Springbok rugby tour protesters heading to Lancaster Park, opens a new window
Springbok rugby tour protesters heading to Lancaster Park, 15 August 1981, Christchurch Star Archive. CCL-Star-1981-5022-001-080N-16, opens a new window.
Negative strip from the Christchurch Star Archive showing Riot police with Springbok rugby tour protesters, opens a new window
Riot police with Springbok rugby tour protesters, 15 August 1981, Christchurch Star Archive, CCL-Star-1981-5022-081-182N-02, opens a new window.

15 August 1981 was the day of the first test match to be played between the All Blacks and the Springboks at Lancaster Park. Controversy and protest around the Springbok tour had not abated. Over 5000 protesters gathered in Cathedral Square to march on to Lancaster Park. After some short speeches the protesters set off at 12.30pm. The game was due to start at 2.30pm. In addition to the police presence with the protesters, there were more at and around Lancaster Park prepared for their arrival. The police were also ejecting those suspected of being protesters among the rugby spectators. The protesters followed the route that the organisers had lodged with the police. As they got closer to Lancaster Park, they split into different marches to come at the park from different sides.

Just before 2.30pm, the protesters that were still inside the park rushed the field, with the aim of bringing down the posts and stopping the game. They did not succeed in this, but the game was delayed as the police rounded up the protesters and removed them. Protesters and police were facing off on the streets around Lancaster Park. Batons were used against those in the front of protest groups. Many protesters kept moving to find gaps in the police lines and the police kept moving to create new barricades. By 4pm the protesters were marching back into the city.

27 protesters had been arrested, 11 were in hospital and many more were injured. The All Blacks won the first test 14-9.

Explore other images from the Springbok Tour on the 15 August 1981, opens a new window, which includes newly donated material!

These images are just some of thousands in the Christchurch Star Archive that we house and are working through to digitise and make accessible online. There are over 9,600 negatives and 5,590 prints to explore in this particular collection. We now have a total of over 31,700 items that you can explore in Canterbury Stories that include photographs, negatives and maps.

Do you have more information or memories about some of the images and negative strips that we have in the collection? You can add comments and stories to the images so that we all know more about what took place. You can register to post comments directly to the images in the toolbar for Canterbury Stories. Do you have images from this time? If you do and would like to contribute them, you can upload them directly through the Discovery Wall, opens a new window, or contact us, opens a new window if you have more than a few!

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