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 »
On the last game of their UK tour in Cardiff, Wales beat NZ by 3-0. Ted Morgan scored a try for the home team which the All Blacks disputed forever more.
If there has been a problem for Aborigines in Australian rugby history, it mirrors attitudes by the Australian public in general. There was an early typecasting of the race as non-achievers in life as in sport. But in rugby the Aborigines have produced a number of champion players.
The most famous were the Ella brothers, Mark, Glen and Gary, who showed the world a brilliantly instinctive degree of understanding of each other on the field of play. Their fame was worldwide in rugby. All were test players around the same time, though they never all played in the same test match.
Mark Ella was one of the First Fifteen of players inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in London in 1997. He is remembered as one of the glittering stars of Australian rugby. The other two from the family, Glen and Gary, were thrilling backline runners too, and all later became much respected coaches.
It is thought that the first Aborigine player to be capped for Australia was Jack ‘Blondie’ Howard in 1938. His teammates at the time were not all sure of his racial background and Howard apparently was never keen on discussing it. Alongside Howard in the tests of 1938 was Cecil Ramalli,who was part-Indian and part-Aborigine. It is said that Ramali, too, never revealed his Aboriginality. He preferred to be known as part-Indian.
Eventually Aborigine players emerged who were happy to declare their race. Lloyd McDermott of Queensland was a pacy winger who played tests against the All Blacks in 1962.
In the years after the Ella brothers came Lloyd Walker, Barry Lea, Andrew Walker and Jim Williams, all of whom were Wallabies. After originally being a centre, Williams was the first forward of Aborigine descent to play test football.
How many test matches for Australia did the three famous Ella brothers play, on the field at the same time?