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!
Even though the All Blacks scored more tries in the four games; the Lions won 2 tests, NZ one test - with a 14-14 draw on this day in Auckland.
These games have become an anachronism in modern rugby. ‘B’ internationals between second – or ‘B’ teams - of countries were played mostly in the second half of the 20th century. The British, Irish and French were the countries that mostly embraced the idea. For a time, some of the hardest games of each European season came in the international ‘B’ matches. The Wales v France ‘B’ teams, in particular, had some robust encounters between 1970 and 1989 when they met annually.
Internationals involving ‘B’ teams were never as popular in South Africa, Australia or New Zealand, though each dabbled with the concept of fielding a ‘second’ national team at some stage.
South Africa actually used to call its ‘second’ selection the ‘Junior’ Springboks. Australia fielded a ‘B’ team for the first time in 1988 when it met New Zealand. In 1991 New Zealand ‘B’ met Australia ‘B’ in Brisbane. New Zealand won an exciting match 21–15.
In 1992 England B toured New Zealand, playing two ‘tests’ against a New Zealand second team that was called the ‘New Zealand XV’.
Modern marketing phased out the concept of ‘B’ games. In the 1990s they were replaced by ‘A’ internationals. The new concept was a marketers way of enticing the paying public to believe they are not seeing second-rate players in action.
So the short history of ‘B’ teams came to an end. Ironically, this was followed by the decision of many countries, led by Wales, for economic reasons, to not even field an ‘A’ team any more.
Who was known as 'The Olympic All Black" - and why?