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!
15 May 2015
If you are in England and near the town of Rugby in Warwickshire it really behoves you to pay a visit, right? So this year I did and after a night in the nearby village of Dunchurch a visit to Rugby on its Market Day was a must - and fun. Read more »
8 May 2015
It is known that 13 All Blacks died in World War I. Three All Blacks died in Flanders Fields, Belgium. This year on a tour with my wife and friends I visited the three headstones of those who fell in Flanders. This one was at the Underhill Cemetery, near Messines in one direction and Ploegsteert on the other. (The Kiwi soldiers and others called it Plug Street in the same way the town of Ypres became 'Wipers' in mis-pronunciation.) The Underhill Cemetery was so named because it near to a spot that Kiwi tunnelers began to dig to undermine the German held town (of Messines). Read more »
8 May 2015
It was with a particular sadness that I visited the last resting place of the Ponsonby Club's All Black hooker from 1913 and 1914, George Sellars. Read more »
6 May 2015
I consider it a very good fortune from my life to have visited the gravesite of the first All Black captain Dave Gallaher a number of times. I first went in 1991 with some All Blacks of the second Rugby World Cup team. But that day one of the team behaved very badly by goose-stepping between the rows and rows of quietly standing headstones. When the player even stuck two fingers under his nose and raised one arm in a disgusting 'Hitler Salute' as he marched I could have killed the young bastard! Read more »
22 April 2015
I've been lucky enough to go to the Japan Sevens for the last few years. Its always a fun event to be at, and not always held in the finest of weather conditions. Now we hear that this year's event will be the last in Tokyo. From next year Singapore will follow after the Hong Kong tournament. So in future we'll miss seeing sights like the one here - which shows all the local staff''s shoes outside the Japanese TV production and commentary boxes at Chichibu Stadium. Read more »
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 »
4 August 2002
More Gold for New Zealand rugby at the Commonwealth Games
This time at Manchester with Gordon Tietjens as coach and Eric Rush as captain New Zealand wins the sevens final beating Fiji 33-25.
For many years the record for the largest crowd to watch a rugby international was the 95,000 that packed into the old Ellis Park ground in Johannesburg in 1955 to watch the ﬁrst test between South Africa and the British Isles. There were also 95,000 present in Bucharest in May 1957 to see France play Romania, although it should be mentioned that the game was actually played as a curtain raiser to a major soccer match!
A record was thought to have been set at Murrayﬁeld in Edinburgh in 1975, when it was reported that a crowd of 104,000 watched the Wales v Scotland international. However, in the end the ofﬁcial attendance was listed as 80,000.
The biggest total of people to watch a test match in New Zealand is the 61,240 who attended Eden Park in Auckland for the fourth test between New Zealand and South Africa in 1956.
For decades the record attendance for a test match in Australia was the 48,898 who came to see New Zealand play Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the third test of 1980. That total was impressive enough considering the lesser place rugby held in the hearts of the Australian sporting public at the time. However being twice world champions in the 1990s helped the upsurge in popularity of rugby union. Coinciding with the rise in rugby’s significance came the building of much larger sports arenas, most notably for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games.
The latest record total for crowds at a rugby test in Australia therefore also became the world’s best. At Stadium Australia in Sydney on July 15, 2000 with the Bledisloe Cup at stake the All Blacks and the Wallabies played in front of 109,878 fans. A year before on the same ground 107,042 had watched the same two teams in action.
At the other end of the scale, there have been many times when ofﬁcials have been disappointed with the size of crowds that have turned out to see major rugby matches.
Easily the tiniest crowd to watch a signiﬁcant rugby match would have been the few dozen people who stood about on the sidelines of Owl Creek Polo Ground in Glenville, in upstate New York, for the match between USA and South Africa in 1981.
To avoid anti-apartheid protesters and prying news media, the two teams traveled in secret to a destination which only a few ofﬁcials knew about. They also had quietly scheduled the match to begin 24 hours ahead of its planned playing time, and goal-posts were only erected (by the players of both teams) ﬁve minutes before kick-off. When the teams ran on to the sloping, muddy and manure-smelling ﬁeld, 60 state police leapt from unmarked cars to guard the event, but they cannot be claimed as boosters to the total attendance ﬁgure of 25!
Had there been a scoreboard at the ground it would have shown a ﬁnal score of South Africa 38, USA 7. Perhaps this was the only international where there were more points scored than people attending.
One of the South African players in the game, Thys Burger, claims some sort of world record. He says he helped put up the posts; when the game started he acted as touch judge for a time, then he came on to play as a substitute and finished his day by scoring a try between them!
Who was the New Zealand test cricketer who played one rugby test for England?