Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
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From my travels I have collected many photos; had them sent to me or saved them, because, well, behind most of them there is a good story!
8 March 2015
Memories of dear Athletic Park. The ground in the suburb of Berhampore in Wellington, New Zealand was called 'The Home of Rugby' on a sign inside the ground. But its time as 'HQ' for rugby in Wellington had to end. By 1999 the facilities at the very famous field were old, rusty and literally in danger of collapsing in some places. After rugby had been played there for over 100 years a brand new stadium had been built downtown (in what we know now as Westpac Stadium). So we locals came to that very sad but inevitable day in 1999 - when the last test ever was played on 'our' home ground. Read more »
28 February 2015
I love this old picture. There is so much about it that has come down the years. And on a personal level when I saw it as a kid I was first drawn to it by seeing our 'family name' on the advertising hoarding in the background. Read more »
19 February 2015
Here I am interviewing the great 1950s and 60s All Black Peter 'Tiger' Jones in Whangarei (in about 1985). I had met him earlier - before I was granted the right to wear the deplorable 'One World of Sport' blazer you see here! Read more »
11 February 2015
This is a photograph taken at one of rugby's rarest events. It was a 'secret' test match played at Owl Creek Polo Field in Glenville, New York in September 1981. Read more »
25 January 2015
The 1970 tour of South Africa by the All Blacks should have been a great experience for the All Black captain Brian Lochore. For tough reasons it did not turn out that way. Read more »
12 January 2015
I've always loved this great picture of Eric Tindill of Wellington, the 'Double All Black.' Such men were called that in New Zealand sporting circles. They were a rare group of men who played for New Zealand at both test rugby and cricket. There have only been a very few of them. This picture from 'Crown Studios' in Wellington was a great attempt to capture his double sporting talent. But Eric's record in International sport went even further than playing it. Read more »
The great 1924-30 All Black fullback George Nepia dies in Ruatoria, East Coast, aged 81.
Llanelli and Wales
2 internationals for Wales 1958
A brilliant rugby man whether as a player, coach, lecturer, broadcaster or writer.
Carwyn James had the misfortune to play in the same era as the great Cliff Morgan, and it was not until 1958 that he played flyhalf for Wales, when it beat Australia by 9–3 at Cardiff. James kicked a dropped goal. Later that season he played centre against France, outside Morgan.
It was as a coach that the quietly-spoken James made his mark on world rugby. Without ever having coached Wales, he was elected to guide the 1971 British Isles team in New Zealand. Under his quiet tutelage the Lions played winning rugby against the All Blacks, and James’s innate tactical judgments and expert reading of opposition strengths shot him into world prominence.
His reputation was enhanced in 1972–73, when he coached Llanelli to its famous win over the All Blacks. He was also the guiding hand behind the Barbarians club’s fortunes against the All Blacks in the final game of that same tour — a game said by many to be the greatest game ever played. James later coached with considerable success in Italy, where his influence on the players at the Rovigo club was said to be enormous.
Personal differences between James and some members of the Welsh Rugby Union meant that he never coached the national team, although at the time he was clearly a very good candidate for the job.
After his spell of coaching he turned to writing and broadcasting, where he proved to be very successful, with a turn of phrase that said much for his intellect and rugby wisdom. He wrote several coaching and historical manuals on the game and was an expert interpreter of rugby on television and radio.
James was an ardent Welsh nationalist who turned down an OBE after the Lions tour of New Zealand. He spoke Welsh fluently and encouraged others to do the same.
Carwyn James collapsed and died in the Netherlands in 1983, and was deeply mourned by his friends and colleagues. Many called him a genius of rugby, though it was also said he was a prophet of the game who was never honoured in his own country. The prominent English writer, John Reason, called Carwyn James ‘the best coach the world has yet seen’.
Who was the last New Zealand Referee to control the All Blacks in an Official test match?