Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
10 August 2014
Another Peter Fatialofa story; this one from well-known New Zealand author, columnist and broadcaster Phil Gifford.
As Phil tells it; 'One time Peter and I were both speaking at the same sports dinner. In Peter's speech he also decided to hark back to the great win by Samoa over Wales in 1991 at the Rugby World Cup. He told the dinner; 'When I gave my final team talk to the boys before the game that day I told them I myself was prepared to do anything for victory in the game, 'to break an arm, break a leg or even break my neck in order to win.'
Phil Gifford said the sincerity of Peter's speech went down really well with the dinner crowd.
But when the two men were driving to the airport afterwards Fats leaned over to Phil and whispered, 'You know I wasn't completely honest with that speech back there. When I said that I had told the team I was prepared to break an arm or a leg or my neck to win, well, I was bullshitting about the neck!'
Coach Gordon Tietjens and injured captain Eric Rush led the team in Mar del Plata, Argentina. NZ beat Australia 31-12 in the final.
Llanelli and Wales
2 internationals for Wales 1958
A brilliant rugby man whether as a player, coach, lecturer, broadcaster or writer.
Carwyn James had the misfortune to play in the same era as the great Cliff Morgan, and it was not until 1958 that he played flyhalf for Wales, when it beat Australia by 9–3 at Cardiff. James kicked a dropped goal. Later that season he played centre against France, outside Morgan.
It was as a coach that the quietly-spoken James made his mark on world rugby. Without ever having coached Wales, he was elected to guide the 1971 British Isles team in New Zealand. Under his quiet tutelage the Lions played winning rugby against the All Blacks, and James’s innate tactical judgments and expert reading of opposition strengths shot him into world prominence.
His reputation was enhanced in 1972–73, when he coached Llanelli to its famous win over the All Blacks. He was also the guiding hand behind the Barbarians club’s fortunes against the All Blacks in the final game of that same tour — a game said by many to be the greatest game ever played. James later coached with considerable success in Italy, where his influence on the players at the Rovigo club was said to be enormous.
Personal differences between James and some members of the Welsh Rugby Union meant that he never coached the national team, although at the time he was clearly a very good candidate for the job.
After his spell of coaching he turned to writing and broadcasting, where he proved to be very successful, with a turn of phrase that said much for his intellect and rugby wisdom. He wrote several coaching and historical manuals on the game and was an expert interpreter of rugby on television and radio.
James was an ardent Welsh nationalist who turned down an OBE after the Lions tour of New Zealand. He spoke Welsh fluently and encouraged others to do the same.
Carwyn James collapsed and died in the Netherlands in 1983, and was deeply mourned by his friends and colleagues. Many called him a genius of rugby, though it was also said he was a prophet of the game who was never honoured in his own country. The prominent English writer, John Reason, called Carwyn James ‘the best coach the world has yet seen’.
What was unique about the Hastings brothers, Gavin and Scott, when they made their debuts for Scotland?