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."
Hawkes Bay's Cyril Brownlie is sent off at Twickenham but the 'Invincible' All Blacks still fight hard with 14 men for a 17-11 win over England.
Queensland, New South Wales and Australia
14 internationals for Australia 1920–32
Tommy Lawton was a stand-off half, or five-eighths, noted for the smoothness of his play, his ability to pass well and his excellent goal-kicking. A Queenslander, he moved to Sydney when rugby went into near recession in Brisbane during and after the First World War.
Lawton was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, winning three blues. He later toured Britain and France with the famous ‘Waratahs’ team – New South Wales – in 1927–28. He was a vital man in that team and scored 127 points, a record for an Australian on such a tour. Decades later the games against international teams on that tour were accorded official Wallaby test status.
In 1929 he returned to Queensland and led the re-formed Australian team against the All Blacks. Lawton was a brilliant tactician and guided Australia to a clean sweep of the three-test series. He was also captain of Australia in one test in 1930 (against Britain) and in 1932 for two tests against the All Blacks. He captained a losing test team only once.
His tally of 60 points – including points scored in the subsequently recognised ‘tests’ of the Waratahs tour – was not beaten as an Australian record until the 1960s.
Tommy Lawton died in 1978 and did not see his name carried on in Australian rugby by his grandsons, Tommy jnr and Robbie, who came into international rugby in 1988.
Which international rugby player who went to two Rugby World Cups also won two Olympic Games Gold Medals and 2 World Championship bronze medals in a chosen 'other' sport?