Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
You are here: Home
9 November 2015
I travelled to the eighth Rugby World Cup in Great Britain as an Ambassador for Williment Sport Travel of Wellington, New Zealand; I made it to into Cardiff at the quarter-final stage. Before that I posted a regular Rugby World Cup blog. Read more »
23 October 2014
17 October 2014
The small New Zealand town of Te Kuiti, in the aptly-named King Country turned out in June 2017 for what was to be the last public outing for the districts legendary rugby star, the great Sir Colin Meads. I was honoured to be MC for the day and later wrote this story for 'NZTODAY.' Read more »
I watched a lot of Colin Meads playing on the rugby field. I am of the age that can say that. Shamelessly I can say I loved the way Colin Meads changed the game for previously lumbering second row forwards, which I was myself, albeit at a club level only. Meads showed us all another way to play. Read more »
This story first appeared in the excellent *NZToday* Magazine's June-July edition. The author knows it is true as he remembers it. Some family members doubt his recall. Read more »
One of the first things people say to any rugby commentator is - 'Just how DO you pronounce all those names from all the different countries?' Read more »
All of the team lists, playing and scoring records of the 14 tests played by the 2016 All Blacks are summarised here; All your questions answered (in three parts). Read more »
*552nd All Black test* Read more »
On the eve of Pontypool v New Zealand in 1989, i jotted down the simple philosophy of how Pontypool coach John Perkins wanted his team to mentally approach their big upcoming game; 'Boys, you've to live it, eat it, sleep it and shit it if you want to win!'
On the last game of their UK tour in Cardiff, Wales beat NZ by 3-0. Ted Morgan scored a try for the home team which the All Blacks disputed forever more.
Wellington and New Zealand
18 internationals for N. Zealand 1987–89
One of the rugby union world's most brilliant attacking fullbacks of the 1980s but who at the peak of his rugby union powers, was lost to rugby league.
John Gallagher was a young fullback living in London who decided to accept an offer of a rugby-playing holiday in Wellington, New Zealand in 1984. By 1986 his life had changed. He had decided to stay in New Zealand, he had embarked on a career with the police force, and late in the year he was included with the New Zealand All Blacks for their tour to France. He was very much a second-stringer on that tour, playing twice at centre.
It was a different matter in 1987. Given the confidence of being chosen as the number one fullback for the first Rugby World Cup, Gallagher’s speed and brilliant intrusions from fullback became a powerful weapon in the All Black armoury.
In his second test match, against Fiji at Christchurch, Gallagher scorched in for four tries (equalling the then New Zealand record for one test match) and helped make many more as the All Blacks raced out to a 74–13 win.
Gallagher played five of the All Blacks’ games at the World Cup, including the final, and was seen as one of the tournament’s most brilliant players. That kind of form followed him through 1988 and 1989, on four other All Black tours.
In May 1990, Gallagher, by then firmly ensconced as one of the country’s most popular sporting heroes, suddenly announced that he was heading for rugby league. The news sent shock waves through New Zealand rugby circles. There was at first disbelief and a little scorn from some, although soon emotions quietened and sensible Kiwis wished him luck in his new career.
The departure of Gallagher to rugby league, along with fellow All Blacks Frano Botica, John Schuster and Matthew Ridge, awakened New Zealanders to the realisation that their national game was not the only one on the sporting horizon. The departure of ‘Kipper’ Gallagher also left an extremely hard-to-fill gap in the All Black backline. No player would be quite like the flying redhead from the Oriental-Rongotai club in Wellington.
Gallagher signed with the Leeds rugby league club after 18 tests for the All Blacks. He scored 13 tries in tests, and in one game, in Japan in 1987, he scored 30 points. His signing fee was reported to be $NZ1.3 million (at the time about £420,000), well in excess of the previous reported world record fee.
Who was the player in the All Blacks 1991 World Cup team who played in one test (against Italy) and never played for the All Blacks at any level before or after that game?