Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
31 December 2015
WHILE IN SYDNEY IN 2015 TO SEE THE PRE-WORLD CUP BLEDLISLOE CUP GAME I WAS REMINDED WHILE THERE OF MY ALL-TIME FAVOURITE BLEDISLOE CUP STORY
IT EPITOMISES WHAT THE RUGBY SPIRIT OF THE TWO COUNTRIES STANDS FOR;
THE STORY CONCERNS THE 1951 ALL BLACK TEAM WHO WERE ON A KIND OF FORGOTTEN TOUR OF AUSTRALIA….
THOSE WERE THE AMATEUR DAYS WITH VERY LITTLE OR NO MONEY IN POST-WAR NEW ZEALAND, AND THE LUCKY PLAYERS IN THE NEW ZEALAND TEAM RECEIVED JUST GIFTS AND PARCELS TO WISH THEM WELL FROM THEIR CLUBS.……
* BEFORE LEAVING ON THE TOUR THE CANTERBURY UNION PRESENTED ITS TOURING ALL BLACKS WITH NEW SHAVING KITS….
* THE CENTRAL OTAGO RUGBY UNION PRESENTED ITS SOLE PLAYER TOMMY LYNCH WITH A WALLET. WITH HIS INITIALS IN GOLD LETTERING….
*AND THE AUCKLAND UNION PRESENTED ITS ALL BLACK PLAYERS WITH TRAVEL RUGS…TO PUT OVER THEIR KNEES TO COUNTER THE COLD OF THE FLYING BOAT FLIGHT OUT OF EVANS BAY IN WELLINGTON, TO SYDNEY.
IN THOSE YEARS..........IT WAS THE SAME FOR THE WALLABIES;
BEFORE THEIR FIRST POST-WAR TOUR OF GREAT BRITAIN THEIR PLAYERS WERE SENT A LETTER SAYING;
'* FOR THE UPCOMING 30-MATCH TOUR - YOU WILL BE ISSUED WITH ONE PLAYING GAME-DAY JERSEY TO PLAY IN...... ON NO ACCOUNT MUST YOU EXCHANGE YOUR JERSEY OR PART WITH IT IN ANY OTHER WAY.
'*PLEASE ALSO BRING YOU SOME WHITE SHORTS TO PLAY IN,
*A PAIR OF DARK SOCKS TO PLAY IN
* A TOWEL FOR YOUR POST-MATCH CLEANLINESS
*...AND SOME SOAP FOR YOUR PERSONAL USE....
THAT WAS THE WALLABY TEAM NICKNAMED THE 'CLEAN-SKINS' - THOUGH NOT ONLY BECAUSE OF THE TOWELS AND THE SOAP BUT BECAUSE IN THEIR FOUR INTERNATIONALS ON TOUR THEY NEVER HAD THEIR LINE CROSSED.....
BUT BACK TO THE STORY ABOUT THE 1951 ALL BLACKS.
THOSE ALL BLACKS WERE THE FIRST TEAM TO FLY TO THEIR TOUR FROM NEW ZEALAND.
THEY LEFT VIA FLYING BOAT FROM EVANS BAY IN WELLINGTON AND HAD TO FLY TO SYDNEY VIA LORD HOWE ISLAND....THAT WAS TO ALLOW THE LOW-FLYING PLANE TO REFUEL BEFORE FLYING ON TO AUSTRALIA.
WITH REGARDS TO THE GIFTS TO THE 1951 ALL BLACK PLAYERS MY FAVOURITE YARN IS ABOUT ONE OF THE DEBUT PLAYERS IN THAT TEAM
FROM THE BLUFF RUGBY CLUB, IN THE DEEP SOUTH OF NEW ZEALAND (OUR SOUTHERN MOST RUGBY CLUB)
HIS NAME WAS EDDIE ROBINSON.
THE CLUB WAS DOUBLY PLEASED WHEN ROBINSON PLAYED SO WELL ON TOUR HE WAS SELECTED TO MAKE HIS TEST DEBUT IN THE FIRST TEST IN
IT WAS THEN THE BLUFF CLUB REALISED THEY HAD NOT GIVEN EDDIE A DEPARTING GIFT BEFORE THE TOUR.
SO THEY DECIDED TO PAY EDDIE THEIR ULTIMATE TRIBUTE…..
ON THE THURSDAY BEFORE THE SATURDAY TEST IN SYDNEY, THEY PLACED TWO LARGE BUCKETS OF FRESH BLUFF OYSTERS ON THE OVERNIGHT RAILCAR TO CHRISTCHURCH.
ARRIVING ON THE FRIDAY, THE BUCKETS WERE THEN PUT ON THE OVERNIGHT FERRY TO WELLINGTON WHERE THEY WERE IMMEDIATELY TRANSPORTED TO THE EVANS BAY FLYING BOATS DOCK.
ON FRIDAY THE FLYING BOAT TOOK OFF FOR ITS 7-HOUR FLIGHT ACROSS THE TASMAN, THE JOURNEY EXTENDED OF COURSE FOR THE REFUELING AT LORD HOWE ISLAND….
THE FLYING BOATS FINALLY LANDED ON SYDNEY HARBOUR ON EARLY SATURDAY AFTERNOON….
THAT, OF COURSE, WAS TEST MATCH DAY
AFTER COMING THROUGH CUSTOMS THE BUCKETS WERE PUT IN A TAXI WHICH WAS DRIVEN ACROSS THE CITY, IN DRIVING RAIN, TO THE SYDNEY CRICKET GROUND….
THERE, THE BUCKETS WERE TAKEN INTO THE OLD GRANDSTAND AND PLACED OUTSIDE THE ALL BLACK TEAM’S DRESSING ROOM.
OUT ON THE FIELD EDDIE ROBINSON WAS HAVING THE GREATEST DAY OF HIS LIFE…HE WAS PLAYING A BLEDISLOE CUP TEST FOR HIS COUNTRY….!!
THE GAME WAS PLAYED IN A QUAGMIRE;…. IN HIS BOOK “WALLABY
GOLD” , THE WRITER PETER JENKINS SAYS THAT SOME OF THE ALL BLACKS TEAM MANAGEMENT HAD SAID BEFOREHAND THE GAME SHOULD
HAVE BEEN CALLED OFF.
BUT I DOUBT EDDIE ROBINSON WOULD HAVE WANTED THAT.
HE PLAYED AND IN THE MUD AND SLIME THE ALL BLACKS THRASHED THE WALLABIES - BY 8-POINTS-TO NIL!!
AND AS THE PLAYERS CAME UP THE TUNNEL AT THE END OF THE GAME
THERE WERE THE TWO BUCKETS ADDRESSED TO EDDIE ROBINSON….
THE BUCKETS WERE TAKEN INSIDE THE DRESSING ROOM, AND EDDIE OPENED THEM....
HE LOOKED INSIDE AND SAW THE SOUTHEN DELIGHTS; THE LUSH BEAUTIFUL OYSTERS FROM HIS HOME TOWN!
SO WHAT DID HE DO? OF COURSE HE POURED THE STILL-BEAUTIFULLY FRESH AND SUCCULENT CONTENTS RIGHT INTO THE BLEDISLOE CUP ITSELF!
THEN LARGE BOTTLES OF BEER WERE POURED IN OVER THE OYSTERS - AND THE MUDDIED ALL BLACKS, AND A BEAMING EDDIE
ROBINSON, CELEBRATED WITH A BEAUTIFUL, RICH, WINNING “BLEDISLOE CUP COCKTAIL”!!
In Port Elizabeth the Springboks complete a 4-test rout of Fred Allen's touring team. Ouch! This series really hurt!
Auckland and New Zealand
41 internationals for N. Zealand 1977–85
A 2 metres (6ft 6ins) tall lock forward, at one time the tallest man to play internationals for his country, Andy Haden became a giant in the sport in other ways. He rose above early arguments that he was not aggressive enough to make a career as a top-class international forward, and by the end of his time in top rugby he was one of New Zealand’s great locks.
Haden had excellent lineout skills, was a solid scrummager, and around the field he often surprised with his mobility. As a captain and touring All Black he became one of the craftiest competitors in the game. Every Welshman will tell you how Haden ‘cheated’ to make referee Roger Quittenton award a last-minute penalty to New Zealand against Wales at Cardiff in 1978. The big New Zealander tilted and dived out of a lineout, giving the impression that he had been pushed. When the penalty – awarded for an offence by Geoff Wheel, not for Haden’s dive – was converted into points by Brian McKechnie, the All Blacks won the game by 13 points to 12. Years later Haden still has to live with Welsh criticism of his dive that day.
He first made the New Zealand team for the 1972–73 tour of Britain and France, but did not make the international games on that tour, and after being dropped the following year, he disappeared off the New Zealand domestic scene for a time. He continued to play rugby, but combined it with seeing the world, becoming one of the first truly global footballers, playing for clubs in France, England and Italy.
Back in New Zealand in 1976, Haden was chosen for the All Black team for the tour to Argentina where, under captain Graham Mourie and coach Jack Gleeson, he blossomed, playing in both the unofficial tests. By 1977 he was drafted into the All Black test team for his first official caps. Thereafter Haden was a regular choice for his country and he went on every tour on offer, except when business interests interrupted his rugby in 1983 and 1984.
Haden became one of the champions of players’ rights and he took on the rugby establishment in New Zealand. His attempts to better the lot of New Zealand’s international players led to misunderstanding and suspicion of him, resulting in charges of professionalism being laid on him by the New Zealand Rugby Football Union in 1984. He defended these successfully, though there were many who were not as convinced of his innocence in 1986 when he was part of the organising of the unauthorised Cavaliers’ tour to South Africa. Charges were leveled that the team took payment to play its tour and Haden, as one of the principal organisers, faced many questions on his return.
Haden played his final game for New Zealand in 1985 in Buenos Aires on the All Black tour that replaced the cancelled official tour to South Africa. He had accumulated 41 test caps and 117 tour matches for his country.
On the Teen Rugby Show on TV in New Zealand (on 18 July 2006) which All Black used the words; 'bugger, shit, shits and shithouse' in a five minute item.