TRANSVAAL 1894 -1898
Alf Larard played rugby league for four seasons at the end of his career. He played at centre or occasionally at half-back or on the wing for a struggling Huddersfield side, who only really found success during his time at the club when they were in the Second Division in 1904–05.
However, he has a unique place in the history of the South African rugby union, because he scored the try when the Springboks first beat the British Lions in 1896.
Larard was born in Hull on 30 December 1870 and arrived in South Africa in 1888, aged 17. In the 1890s he played for the Diggers Club in Johannesburg, the centre of the gold mining industry. He also established himself as a member of the Transvaal provincial team.
During the 1896 tour of the British Lions to South Africa, Larard was selected to play against the tourists when they started the Transvaal leg of the tour. He was selected on five occasions to represent the first representative teams of his union and second, his adopted country.
In the first match on Wednesday 12 August 1896, he represented the Johannesburg Country XV before a crowd of 5,000 spectators. Despite fielding a virtual full Diggers team (10 out of 15), the Johannesburg side still lost the match 7–0.
Three days later, on Saturday, 15 August 1896, Larard represented the Transvaal provincial side against the tourists in Johannesburg. Despite this team being much more representative of all the union’s clubs, the home side still lost 16–3 before a crowd of 7,000.
Four days later, on Wednesday 19 August 1896, Larard and his Transvaal teammates once again squared up to meet the tourists for a second encounter in Johannesburg before a crowd of 4,000 spectators. For the second time they were defeated, this time 15–5. South Africa lost the first test to the Lions 8–0. Team changes saw Larard selected for the Springboks at half-back to play the Lions in the second test on 22 August.
He was the 47th player to be chosen for the Springboks.
The match was at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg, and a 5,000 crowd saw the Springboks lose 17–8. He was dropped for the third Test, which the Lions won 9–3, but recalled for the final match of the series, on 5 September at Newlands in Cape Town. A 3,500 crowd saw South Africa win 5–0, and Larard scored the try.
By Hendrik Snyders