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!
23 October 2014
The things you find at home all these years later. While rummaging through some family shots I came across this picture I took from the commentary scaffold at what was then Buckhurst Park in Suva, Fiji. It shows the Fiji and British Isles teams coming onto the field before the playing of the last game of the Lions 26 match tour of New Zealand and Fiji in 1977. I think the high aspect of the shot might make it unique to Fiji rugby history. The scaffold was so rickety no photographers were allowed on it. This was the day Fiji's national team scored perhaps their most famous home victory. Fiji won 25-21. They could be rightly proud of course but it is true the Lions did not approach the fixture with true dedication. I can still recall their poolside party raging on and keeping me awake 16 hours before kickoff! Read more »
26 September 2014
28 August 2014
I had been to China a number of times before 2014. The main time was for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, then for the Paralympic Games which followed. I was in the country then for nearly two months. I had been for rugby reasons too; Firstly to Shanghai for several IRB 7s rugby tournaments and then there was a similar event in Beijing in 2003. That time the IRB were hoping to impress upon the 2008 Chinese Olympic Games Officials how nicely their game would sit in an Olympic programme. That didn't happen then but it has now. So in 2014 here I was in Nanjing and forgive me if I felt part of a breakthrough rugby broadcast team for the Olympic movement. The Summer Youth Sevens event in Nanjing was great fun. So I made sure I found time to make an appropriate 'location' picture to mark my time in this city. Here I am at the Nanjing Old City Wall with the Olympic rings a backdrop. Construction on the wall was started in 1366. Read more »
16 August 2014
Is this the best photograph ever taken of a rugby dive-pass? If it's not then show me a better one. This is the great Danie Craven playing for South Africa v New Zealand in the third test match of 1937 at Eden Park in Auckland. Some old historians claim Craven 'invented' the dive-pass for a halfback in the 1930s but in fact it was first used to best effect by an earlier Springbok half, by the name of Dauncie Devine - in the South African team which played New Zealand in South Africa in 1928. Read more »
17 June 2014
The All Blacks in full colour playing their test matches are a familiar sight these days. But it was not always that way. This is a freeze-frame photo taken from the first ever live telecast of New Zealand's famous team on television. Coverage was in black and white only and only four cameras intercut the action. Focus on the play a far from the high definition of the modern digital coverage of today. New Zealand beat England in this match in 1954 by 5-0. Read more »
Jack Manchester's All Blacks are beaten 13-0 by England at Twickenham, with the Russian Prince Alexander Obolensky as a winger, dashing in for 2 tries.
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’.
Which New Zealand sports broadcaster once described a tight tennis match as 'a Battle of Nutrition.'