Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
You are here: Home » Favourite Sports Yarns
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.
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 »
Anti-tour protests and police surrounding the ground in Christchurch made this a tough watch for the fans. But NZ beat South Africa on this day in the first test by 14-9.
For many years the record for the largest crowd to watch a rugby international was the 95,000 that packed into the old Ellis Park ground in Johannesburg in 1955 to watch the ﬁrst test between South Africa and the British Isles. There were also 95,000 present in Bucharest in May 1957 to see France play Romania, although it should be mentioned that the game was actually played as a curtain raiser to a major soccer match!
A record was thought to have been set at Murrayﬁeld in Edinburgh in 1975, when it was reported that a crowd of 104,000 watched the Wales v Scotland international. However, in the end the ofﬁcial attendance was listed as 80,000.
The biggest total of people to watch a test match in New Zealand is the 61,240 who attended Eden Park in Auckland for the fourth test between New Zealand and South Africa in 1956.
For decades the record attendance for a test match in Australia was the 48,898 who came to see New Zealand play Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the third test of 1980. That total was impressive enough considering the lesser place rugby held in the hearts of the Australian sporting public at the time. However being twice world champions in the 1990s helped the upsurge in popularity of rugby union. Coinciding with the rise in rugby’s significance came the building of much larger sports arenas, most notably for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games.
The latest record total for crowds at a rugby test in Australia therefore also became the world’s best. At Stadium Australia in Sydney on July 15, 2000 with the Bledisloe Cup at stake the All Blacks and the Wallabies played in front of 109,878 fans. A year before on the same ground 107,042 had watched the same two teams in action.
At the other end of the scale, there have been many times when ofﬁcials have been disappointed with the size of crowds that have turned out to see major rugby matches.
Easily the tiniest crowd to watch a signiﬁcant rugby match would have been the few dozen people who stood about on the sidelines of Owl Creek Polo Ground in Glenville, in upstate New York, for the match between USA and South Africa in 1981.
To avoid anti-apartheid protesters and prying news media, the two teams traveled in secret to a destination which only a few ofﬁcials knew about. They also had quietly scheduled the match to begin 24 hours ahead of its planned playing time, and goal-posts were only erected (by the players of both teams) ﬁve minutes before kick-off. When the teams ran on to the sloping, muddy and manure-smelling ﬁeld, 60 state police leapt from unmarked cars to guard the event, but they cannot be claimed as boosters to the total attendance ﬁgure of 25!
Had there been a scoreboard at the ground it would have shown a ﬁnal score of South Africa 38, USA 7. Perhaps this was the only international where there were more points scored than people attending.
One of the South African players in the game, Thys Burger, claims some sort of world record. He says he helped put up the posts; when the game started he acted as touch judge for a time, then he came on to play as a substitute and finished his day by scoring a try between them!
Why was the kickoff for the Japan v Wales in Cardiff in 1983 delayed for 15 minutes?