Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
28 November 2014
It is always very sad when a man who once thrilled New Zealand with his youthful rugby zeal and became an All Black, then reaches his senior years - and then passes away. This week we say RIP to Peter 'Sammy' Henderson. Read more »
22 July 2014
I felt really sad when I heard of the death of Kevin Skinner. He was such a genial man in his later years until his health started to fade. At the Barbarians Club at Eden Park in Auckland he was always a friendly face, chatting away. And invariably gently chiding anyone who tried to push onto him the reputation many New Zealand rugby followers had that he was forever and only a rugby thug. He was not that at all. I prefer to call him a vital man who was very much needed by his country in some most critical rugby years. Read more »
NZ had to go to Brisbane for this Sunday game; the ABs scored 8 tries to 1! Winning the first World Cup was now only a week away!
Newport and Wales
1 international for Wales 1967
A player who is an example from rugby that because of one mistake made in one game a stigma can be attached to a name throughout a playing career.
John Jeffrey was a 22-year-old student who, in 1967, was selected for the first time to play for Wales in an important game against New Zealand.Sadly for Jeffrey he made a mistake. Early in the second half of a tension-filled game the All Blacks took a shot at goal into a howling Cardiff wind. As the kick came down short of the posts, young Jeffrey kept his appointment with destiny. He caught the ball then flung an erratic pass over his head as the All Black tacklers stormed down on him. The ball flew to open ground and a New Zealander, Bill Davis, following up quickly, dived on it to score.
Wales lost the game 6–13 and the Welsh selectors knew who to make their scapegoat. They dropped Jeffrey from their team and he was never asked to play for Wales in an international again.
Years later there were claims that Jeffrey’s play as a No. 8 was never realistically assessed; many lesser players were given better chances to prove themselves in the international arena. But it is not widely remembered that Jeffrey toured Argentina with the Welsh team in 1968. He also played for the Barbarians on tour in South Africa in 1969 and for them against South Africa at Cardiff in January 1970.
Jeffrey’s inclusion here in this listing is, perhaps, a reminder that the vagaries of selectorial whim and hasty judgments both on and off the field can make or break a rugby player, no matter how good he might be.
Piri Weepu played 71 tests for the All Blacks; how many times did he play for the full 80 minutes?