Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
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.
"Back in the 1960s Ian was a badminton player of some ability. Early in his working life he worked as an accountant at the Wellington offices for the J.C.Williamson Theatre Organisation. His work-place was a room one floor above the main stage of the Wellington Opera House. For the two Ians to get to their local club for practice entailed a journey of some significance. They would attempt this at lunchtime and after work but the sheer distance of travel from their city offices cut down on practice times.
'Wellsy" never had any ambitions to appear in any dramatic productions but when the theatre stage wasn't being used he came up with a cunning sporting plan. He would go downstairs into the empty arena and erect a temporary badminton court. He found he could leave it there for as long as the gap in show bookings permitted. Therefore he could practice with chosen mates (and virtually in private) without having to go more than a few paces. Their performance as players improved noticeably"
As Shakespeare himself might have had one of his character's utter, or was it Richie McCaw (to TV3's John Campbell in 2012); "Games don't care for fairy tales; in any sport you've just got to find a way to go out and do the work."
The first All Black tour of South Africa is squared.
With South Africa leading the 4-match test series 2-1, NZ had to win this game in Cape Town. They did by 13-5.
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.