Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
2 January 2016
Starting off 2016's favourite photo section with a cricket pic instead of rugby? Why not? It's my website! But read on with the slight rugby connection!
In November 2015, just after the end of the 2015 Rugby World Cup my wife and I took a trip to Adelaide to watch the first-ever day/night cricket test.
And it was money well spent!
We loved the game between New Zealand and Australia and its three-day excitement (and also the two days of wine touring South Australia which therefore followed!)
I took my camera to the ground and pointed it at the (historic?) moment when Brendan McCullum packed in seven slips (or four slips and three gulleys) as his NZ team pressed ever aggressively for late wickets to fall by the Aussies on the third night.
The wickets didn't tumble and Australia won - but I think the photo has merit. The seven slips were only in place for about 3 balls.
There was a slight rugby connection for me at the famous Adelaide Oval. For about five years I was part of the broadcast team which commentated sevens there on the IRB tour. But on those occasions I was dumb and numb. Each year the media had, as their working room, the Australian cricket team's dressing room. Around the hallowed walls were honours boards with great cricketing name's achievements listed (including D.G.Bradman's many times)
But in those five years did I take one photograph to possibly include here?
No - not one!
A great day for NZ at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. Sean Fitzpatrick and John Hart's team silence the ghosts with a 33-26 triumph.
Cardiff, London Welsh and Wales
46 internationals for Wales 1966–78
5 internationals for British Isles 1968–71
One of the most brilliant wings the game has known, Gerald Davies was the prince of sidesteppers, a master of speed and a crowd-pleaser in the extreme. Had he not missed several tours for personal reasons, his talent would have been more widely acclaimed.
Davies finished his schooling and education at Loughborough College and Cambridge University. Imbued with their spirit of playing enjoyable rugby, he soon made his way into the Welsh team. His first international was against Australia in 1966, as a centre.
He played 12 full internationals in that position before making the change to the wing. If he was a success as a centre (good enough to be chosen as a British Lion to South Africa in 1968) he became a wing of exceptional class. His size (only 73kg – 111/2 stone) meant that he was rapidly becoming outmoded as a centre at a time when crash-ball specialists were being used more and more. It was as a wing that he could display more expressively his talents for speed and balance.
Davies was considered one of the best sidesteppers the game has seen, especially off his right foot. Many of his markers and opponents could attest to this, none more so than the Hawke’s Bay team in New Zealand in 1971, which played the British Isles at Napier. Davies sidestepped repeatedly at high speed and ran in four brilliant tries.
Davies played all four test matches for the Lions on that tour, having earlier played in the third test at Cape Town in South Africa in 1968. He declined to tour twice with the Lions, to South Africa in 1974 (uncomfortable with what he had seen of the apartheid policies in 1968) and to New Zealand in 1977, but continued as an international until June 1978, when he quit at the age of 33. His last test match was Wales v Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
At the time his 46 appearances on the wing and at centre made him Wales’s most-capped three-quarter. He and Gareth Edwards then shared the record (20) as the highest try-scorers in Welsh internationals.
Gerald Davies later joined the list of former players who wrote and broadcast about the game. He had a number of books published and was also been an expert television presenter and commentator.
His standing in Wales was such that he was chosen to be the Opening Ceremony ‘voice’ of the Rugby World Cup in Cardiff in 1999.
In 2009 the respect in which Gerald Davies was held was confirmed when he was invited to be the Manager of the British and Irish touring team to South Africa. He also played significant roles as a member of the Board of Directors for the Welsh Rugby Union and a sitting member of the International Rugby Board.
In which town or city was the first international rugby match played in Wales?