Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
13 January 2015
This story is part of folklore at the Barbarians Club in Auckland, New Zealand. It is one which shows that even in the middle of a feisty rugby test match a mother's pride will still come shining through!
Back in 1930 an excellent Wellington forward Hugh McLean made the All Blacks team to play Great Britain in the third test. No one was much surprised at this as McLean had been in excellent provincial form in recent seasons and two years earlier his strength and sporting capacity had carried him into a New Zealand rowing eight. That crew was bound for the Amsterdam Summer Olympic Games. Sadly they didn't make it as funding eventually was not on hand for such a large group of men to travel so far at one time.
But 'Hughie' got his chance in 1930 to play for the All Blacks. His debut was to be on Eden Park in Auckland.
When the team assembled beforehand and McLean was handled his hallowed black playing kit he expressed surprise that he was to wear jersey number 13. His reluctance was not because of any superstition. That number had not been allocated for him in that day's match programme or in the morning newspaper. In the centre pages he was down to pull on number nine.
But you see, seniority within the All Black team ranks played its part. The crusty veteran W.E. ("Bill') Hazlett of Southland had an apparent aversion to wearing the 'unlucky' number 13. So Hazlett claimed number nine and the new kid was 'told' to wear 13.
Whether this actually bothered Hugh is not known but when the game kicked off it could have been the reason he played so superbly. The young forward in fact dashed in for two tries as New Zealand won 15-10 and took a decisive lead in the series. As the action went on everyone watching soon started talking about the new forward in the All Blacks and how well he was playing. Those were days well before TV of course so even the keenest of All Black fans only had newspaper photos of players faces to go by. Therefore the crowd soon started calling out in praise of the great game which was being played by 'Number nine Hazlett! Go Hazlett!'
Sitting in the grandstand that call irked no one more than Mrs McLean - Hugh's mother.
When her son scored his second try on his test debut she could stand it no longer. When the cheering was dying down the redoubtable Mum rose from her seat. She turned to face the crowd and in her most commanding, if not demanding voice, shouted out to all and sundry - 'That's not Hazlett! That's my boy Hughie!'
That was it! McLean went on to play for the All Blacks until 1936. Was it just desserts that after that season was over Hazlett never donned any All Black jersey again!
What a game it was; watched by 109,878 fans in Sydney. Jonah Lomu scored the winner. 39-35 to NZ but the Aussies loved their role in this classic and named it well!.
Heriot’s FP, Leicester, and Scotland
27 internationals for Scotland 1957–65
5 internationals for British Isles 1959
A brilliant runner and tactical wizard of Scottish rugby, Kenneth Scotland became much more than the man who played for the country of his name. He was a player who was years; decades even, ahead of his time. As a rugby country, New Zealand in particular could not believe his style of play when he toured there with the British Isles in 1959. Only with the advantage of hindsight was Ken Scotland recognised as being a rugby genius.
Ken Scotland eventually equaled the Scottish record for caps won by a fullback (25 caps, along with Dan Drysdale), but he could cope in any position in the backline. He was a scrumhalf too, (playing two important games in that position in New Zealand for the Lions in 1959). He was also flyhalf (two caps when captaining Scotland in 1963) and a centre (two games for the Lions in 1959, including the fourth test won at Auckland).
Only slightly built, he was a running fullback years before Andy Irvine, Serge Blanco, David Campese and others revolutionised that previously ‘steady’ position. Ken Scotland set new standards as a counter-attacker and back line intruder, and did it superbly.
New Zealanders in particular marvelled at his running brilliance. In the first match of the Lions tour he showed Kiwi fans what he’d been showing British crowds for a couple of years. Scotland ran in three successive tries from fullback against Hawkes Bay in the tour opener and scored 10 tries in all on tour.
Scotland was also an innovative goal-kicker. Though he could kick straight-on using the toe, he also experimented successfully with the round-the-corner style and was one of the first players anywhere to perfect the method. He was also expert at drop-kicking for goal.
He was educated at George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh, one of a series of international fullbacks to emerge from that school (including Dan Drysdale and Andy Irvine). Scotland made his international debut against France in Paris in 1957, scoring all the points for his side as it won 6–0. It was the first time in 19 years that a Scot had achieved such a feat.
He suffered a loss of form in 1958 but by 1959 was back in favour and in the Lions team on tour ‘down under’. From then he was a first choice for his country until 1963. His last international was against France in 1965.
If there were a New Zealand rugby NPC State-of-Origin contest, which province would Grant Fox play for?