Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
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.
George was a top bloke, his family and friends all said, and no one would have been surprised that he died assisting a colleague on 7 June 1917. A part-Maori George was on the slopes of Messines Ridge in only his fifth day on the battlefield. It was typical that he saw a wounded colleague and rushed to help him. But a shell exploded near them both, so close that, to speak directly, George and his mate were blown to bits.
So it is with a particular sense of irony that when one goes to pay tribute to some fallen footballers of WWI, a number of them are only represented by a name carved, albeit in honour, on a marble wall. Sad but true in the case of Private George Maurice Victor Sellars.
The photo was taken at the Messines Ridge Memorial.
Great Britain beat NZ 6-3 in the first of a four test series. From Carisbrook in Dunedin a local 4YA staff member Alfred Laurie Canter was the commentator.
Lansdowne and Ireland
51 internationals for Ireland 1974–84
1 international for the British Isles 1977
A dedicated player who became only the third forward from Ireland to reach 50 international appearances. Keane was never a great lineout leaper or scrummager or runner in the open. Rather he played the game in the dark depths of rucks and mauls, where he was as good a grafter as the game has seen. For heart and pride, and the desire to do his utmost for Ireland, he could not be bettered.
Maurice Ignatius Keane first played for Ireland in 1974 in a 6–9 loss to France, but wins in two other matches that season gave Ireland the Five Nations title. In Keane’s fourth international season for Ireland, he made the British Isles team to tour New Zealand, after one of the team’s originals, Geoff Wheel, had to withdraw on medical advice.
Keane was in the Irish team that won the Five Nations championship in 1982 and in the one that shared the title with France in 1983. The other years of his international career were lean: in 52 internationals Keane was only in the winning team 17 times.
Keane had a delightful personality and a wicked sense of humour and many stories, true, exaggerated or otherwise, are still told about him.
In the 1978 New Zealand v Ireland match at Dublin, the Irish were being well beaten in the lineouts, where Keane was marking the All Black giant Andy Haden. The only chance Ireland had to win lineout ball was with their complicated lineout calls, which none of the New Zealanders could decipher. The All Blacks were helped on one occasion when the lineout call went out from the Irish halfback and they heard Keane cry, ‘Oh God no, not to me again’!
Moss Keane was the first Gaelic footballer to play rugby union for Ireland after eligibility rules were changed. He remained an enormously popular figure in Ireland after his retirement from playing.
In which town or city was the first international rugby match played in Wales?