Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
17 October 2016
In the 1950s and 60s when a South African rugby team left home for a major overseas tour they always carried with them a splendidly mounted Springbok trophy head. The trophy would be presented to the first team that beat the South Africans on any trip.
In 1965 a confident Springbok team arrived in Wellington for just the second tour game, of a 24-match itinerary. Buoyed by a 32-3 win in their first game at Gisborne against Poverty Bay-East Coast they then ran into a powerhouse Wellington team. Though it was only 1-try each the final score favoured the home team by 23-6. So the Springbok head was duly handed over to the Wellington captain Ken Gray.
Such moments are not forgotten, nor are the trophies hidden away to gather dust. In 2016 at the Wellington Rugby Union's 'Old Timer's Day' 51 years after the epic victory, two of the senior players wanted to record their presence with the trophy one more time. Here are Gary Hermansson and Neven MacEwan, the number eight forward and lock forward respectively from the Wellington team
To this writer's eye not one of the three 'people' in this photo have aged a jot!
A 48 test veteran Jerry Collins tragically died in a car crash in Southern France aged only 34.
Auckland, North Auckland, and New Zealand
2 internationals for New Zealand 1921
Although he played first-class rugby between 1916 and 1928, and in 15 matches for New Zealand 1920–24, Ces Badeley is better known as the man who was briefly the captain of the 1924 All Blacks.
Twenty-three of the players who later were to become the ‘Invincibles’ on their tour of Britain, France and Canada, first made a four-match visit to Sydney. Badeley was the captain, but played only the first match because of a knee injury. Returning to New Zealand, the team, and Badeley, played two further matches, and the captain’s play received wide praise.
Although the New Zealand union had stated the captaincy would be reviewed before the British tour, it was a surprise when, no sooner had Badeley made a speech on behalf of the team at a parliamentary farewell, than Cliff Porter was announced as captain.
In later years, Badeley supposed his knee injury was a reason, but it is possible that a clique of senior players privately decided on Porter during the voyage back from Sydney. Mark Nicholls was said to be a key factor in these deliberations as – like Badeley – he was a five-eighths, and a confident one at that: Nichols apparently was in no doubt he should play all the major matches.
The offhand treatment of Badeley didn’t finish there. He played only two games on the 32-match tour, despite being regularly clearly fit to play. In fact his major activity for the rest of the famous tour was to act sometimes as back coach.
Once the team was well on track for its unbeaten record, Badeley had no chance of playing. The under-utilised young wing, Alan Robilliard, who himself had only four games in Britain and France, has said that the unbeaten record became paramount to the team and it was inevitable the top players would be fielded for most games.
Who was the first Welshman to captain the British and Irish Lions on tour?