Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
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I always travel with a notebook to jot down the hard case or significant sporting stories I hear. My thinking is - 'these are too good to lose.' This website is a perfect place for me to publish them.
10 August 2014
Another Peter Fatialofa story; this one from well-known New Zealand author, columnist and broadcaster Phil Gifford. Read more »
6 August 2014
From an interview Jonah did for the IRB's World of Rugby TV show. Read more »
17 July 2014
Referees haven't always stayed neutral! Read more »
17 July 2014
I liked this story which was told to me by a local New Zealand referee who swore that this is how he tried to get his message across before every (lower grade) game he ever had the privilege to control. Read more »
17 June 2014
I liked this about athletes adapting to any conditions in an attempt to practice to get better in one's chosen sport. This story was told at the funeral of well-known Wellington and New Zealand Sports administrator Ian Wells in early 2014 by Ian's life-long sporting friend Ian Christison. Read more »
5 June 2014
The Manu Samoa rugby team burst into the world scene in 1991 with a stunning entry into the second Rugby World Cup. Read more »
14 July 1969
I suppose this story only has a vague connection with sport and television. I mention it here because many times in my lifetime of working in the medium of TV commentary I have heard people try to tell me, and other commentators, just 'how it (TV commentary) should be done!' Read more »
Jack Manchester's All Blacks are beaten 13-0 by England at Twickenham, with the Russian Prince Alexander Obolensky as a winger, dashing in for 2 tries.
Jedforest, Newcastle and Scotland
51 internationals for Scotland 1988-99
Described once as ‘a one-off, a complete and utter mystery’ as a person, Gary Armstrong ended his international career remembered as a deeply steadfast scrumhalf whose commitment to any team he played for could never be denied. The 'mystery' referred to extreme shyness.
But like a lot of shy rugby people Armstrong expressed himself strongly once he ran on to the field. He always tackled way above his diminutive stature, was an elusive runner, especially around the short side of a scrum, and above all was unswerving in his courage. He may have been a quiet man but when he played his final game for his country, captaining the team against the All Blacks at the 1999 Rugby World Cup, he was described afterwards by his coach Jim Telfer as ‘the bravest man I ever saw play for Scotland’.
Armstrong made his debut for Scotland in 1988 and only months later was in the British Isles team which toured Australia. On that trip he failed to make the test teams, losing out to Robert Jones of Wales, but in 1990 he played some of his greatest rugby. Not only was he a powerful force in the Scottish touring team to New Zealand, a team which harried the All Blacks over two close tests, but he also played a pivotal role in Scotland’s epic victory over the ‘auld enemy’, England, in the critical Five Nations and Grand Slam match of that year.
Injuries kept him out for two seasons and one time, after 28 tests, he actually retired from test rugby to concentrate on his dearly loved Jedforest team. But Scotland seemed to always call Armstrong back and each time they did he gave his usual 110%. He was captain of Scotland when they won the Five Nations in 1999 (of great satisfaction considering they were 100-1 outsiders when the season started). He also was one of the rare players to play the 1991 World Cup series, then miss the 1995 series in South Africa (he was injured), only to be back for the World Cup in 1999.
He retired from international play after captaining and playing strongly in the quarter-final match against New Zealand on his beloved Murrayfield.
After sevens years of productive play as a professional with the Newcastle Falcons, Armstrong became one of the first professionals with the new Scottish Borders professional team in 2002, signing as a 35 year old on a three-year contract!
From 1987 to 2011 inclusive; How many men have refereed the seven Rugby World Cup finals?