Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
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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 »
12 February 2015
16 January 2015
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 »
With one test win each NZ and South Africa battled on this day to a 0-0 game in the mud and slush of Athletic Park in Wellington; and the test series is tied.
You cannot have a rugby match without a ball. According to legend, the ball that William Webb Ellis picked up and ran with at Rugby School in 1823 was similar in shape to the oval ball of today. Why Rugby School played with an oval football before running with it in one’s hands was allowed is a mystery, but the evidence is that balls of that shape were used for many years before Webb Ellis attended the school.
It could be that different forms of football were traditionally played with a pig’s bladder as the ball. Any good pig-hunter will tell you that a pig’s bladder, when inflated, is basically oval in shape. When, by 1840, leather covers were made for the bladders, they were fitted to that shape. Thus today’s rugby ball is a direct throwback to the pig’s bladder balls that were kicked around the playing fields of Rugby School early in the nineteenth century. The ‘feet only’ game of association football adopted the round ball on its own.
For years South African rugby favoured using an eight-paneled leather ball, as distinct from the standard four panels used elsewhere. In 1961 it joined the rest of the world in adopting the four-panel ball.
The first rubber bladders were made in 1870. Another significant change to the rugby ball came in 1931 when the rather squat shape of the early ball, which made for easier place-kicking and drop-kicking, was replaced by a narrower, more torpedo-like shape that is able to be passed more easily. The length was shortened by one and a half inches (35mm). A lace to hold the inner bladder together used to be found on every ball, but is now missing from the modern ball.
The main other differences that exist in the modern ball are that they are made out of synthetic rubber and have thousands of raised lumps on their surface. All are designed to give greater grip for the players’ handling. Whether they do aid catching and dispatching in a pass is the subject of endless debate among rugby watchers.
Also used on every ball are various brand names, as companies vie to have their ball used in major televised fixtures and therefore expand brand exposure and sales.
Players with the surnames of Jones, Williams and Thomas when added together made up how many players in the Welsh squad at the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia?