Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
26 July 2019
I've got to say I really like this 2019 picture of a familiar 1970s ex-All Black player, who then became an All Black coach and then Argentina's international coach. The man in the frame of course is Alex 'Grizz' Wyllie of North Canterbury, New Zealand. This freeze-frame of the tough and rugged number eight forward is from a TV commercial he is involved with in 2019. The product he is endorsing is 'Wet and Forget' a cleaning product which removes household 'gunge' from homes, decks or roofs. Wyllie does a great job in it I reckon.
In Alex's playing days when he had a huge public profile I had an advertising mate who wrote a little ditty which was turned into an unpublished party song. In it there was a line which went 'With a face like granite, is he from another planet - that's Wyllie! Grizz Wyllie!'
I think you might agree with me nothing much has changed in terms of that facial expression! But good luck to Grizz - I hope the product is selling well!
Marty Berry came on v Australia at Eden Park in a losing Bledisloe Cup game for just 18 seconds. But his other midweek games for the ABs spread over 7 seasons.
New South Wales and Australia
63 internationals for Australia 1984–93
As captain of the superb Wallaby World Cup-winning team of 1991, Nick Farr-Jones became one of the best-known men of modern rugby. His authority as a player and captain was crowned when he received the cup at Twickenham from Queen Elizabeth II and held it high for the rugby world to see. For Farr-Jones the 12–6 win over England was a culmination of a long pursuit of success for him and Australian rugby. Looking back, it can be seen that his career was regularly signposted with success, and not just in 1991.
Two significant records tumbled for him in 1990. First, in his seventh season as the Wallaby halfback, he took over from the great John Hipwell as Australia’s most-capped player in that vital position. He also became Australia’s most-capped captain, the World Cup final being his 31st appearance as team leader. And he and his partner Michael Lynagh cruised past John Rutherford and Roy Laidlaw’s old record for most tests together for any country as a scrumhalf–flyhalf combination.
Nick Farr-Jones made his first tour to Fiji in 1984 and played his first test on Twickenham against England. He was an immediate success, and in combination with Mark Ella played a vital role in the Wallaby team that went on to win a Grand Slam over British countries. Two years later he helped Australia win the Bledisloe Cup in New Zealand.
The elegant yet aggressive style of Farr-Jones marked him as one of the world’s most significant modern players. He was possessed of a slick pass (in the Australian scrumhalf tradition of men who had gonr before him; Cyril Burke, Des Connor, Ken Catchpole and John Hipwell), he was a fast and explosive runner, and had a wide tactical knowledge of the game (including the best ways to exploit the blindside). His strength and fitness, enthusiasm and popularity among his fellow players, not to mention his from-the-front style of captaincy made him one of Australia’s best of all time. Many critics also considered him, in his time, the world’s best halfback. Injury around Rugby World Cup time in 1987 restricted his appearances and performances in that series.
Farr-Jones took over the captaincy of Australia in 1988 and although Wallaby teams under his leadership lost a number of series and games, his own form did not diminish. He could count numerous successes as captain, including the World Cup final of course, plus beating England in Australia in two tests in 1988, and beating Scotland, France and New Zealand at least once on their home soil in a little over 18 months.
Nick Farr-Jones also made a tremendous contribution to Australian rugby by his personal example. He has always been a learned rugby thinker and an eloquent speaker. In the face of the enormous popularity of rugby league in Australia he has always represented his game with true style.
After his career as a player was over he also made a significant contribution as a TV commentator and in local politics and business.
Why was the France v Ireland match of 1913 played in the morning in Cork?