Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
25 November 2017
From time to time there are those rugby fans who nostalgically reflect on their time in the game; and they do it by the magic of poetry. You will find some memorable efforts on this website. This latest one comes from James Simpson of New Zealand who clearly remembers with enormous affection his days of playing in the hooking position - and his enormous respect for others who did so too.
The Ace In The Pack
He hangs between two henchmen all Cauliflower ears,
Knuckles and boots their stock-in-trade
Their most sociable act is sculling their beers
No lovers of high debate
For free thought is something found in the North
No need for it way down here
Our traditions and rituals rule the way we go forth
We act without fancy or fear
No video ref nor rulings from touch
We fix faults off our own bat
Our answer to those who doth protesteth too much
Is to 'Take that and that and that.'
Some say a fine mind marks a man out
For life as a great physician
But a fine mind will only cause doubt
When playing the hookers position
Diagnostic skills the pundits go on
Are traits more fitting a back
But those in the know in the front row club
Say such powers are much prized in the pack
Tho’ strong arms and thick skulls when put to the test
Are assets that front rowers like
And tho’ he had them as well we’ll remember him best
For the snakelike speed of his strike
And we’ll also remember in years to come
Like Anzacs from warfare and strife
The attitudes forged in the heat of the scrum
Will last you the rest of your life.
Wellington, New Zealand
Bay of Plenty sevens expert Gordon Tietjens takes his first NZ team to Fiji. They didn't win the tournament there but Tietjens stayed coach for 20-plus years
Auckland and New Zealand
17 internationals for N. Zealand 1946–54
After first making his mark on international rugby during the ‘Kiwis’ tour of Britain and Europe 1945–46, Scott soon became the regular All Black fullback, playing 12 consecutive internationals 1946–50.
Not available to tour Australia in 1951, he then retired, but was persuaded to demonstrate his class to British crowds on the tour of 1953–54. Turning 33 during that tour, Scott showed he had lost none of his exceptional ability: a fullback who could defend admirably, with his positional sense a great asset, and with a fine eye for the right moment to join an attack.
Broadcaster Winston McCarthy, who witnessed all Scott’s major games, referred to him as a genius, one of the greatest rugby footballers he had seen. ‘He had the greatest balance, the greatest poise that I’ve seen in any man.’
Scott regularly entertained crowds by practising his goal-kicking in bare feet. He sometimes removed his boots and kicked goals from half-way in charity matches. But even with his boots on, Scott had a terrible time goal-kicking in South Africa in 1949. His general form was sublime, and Hennie Muller reckoned he was ‘altogether the greatest player I’ve ever played against in any position’. But the goals wouldn’t go over, and the All Blacks plummeted to a 0–4 series loss, thanks primarily to the Springboks’ greater goal-kicking skills.
After his second retirement, Scott continued to play club and charity rugby in Wellington. He was asked – but declined – to be available to play against the 1956 Springboks. He was then 35.
Scott scored 242 points in his 52 matches for New Zealand. From New Zealand point of view if only more of them could have been scored in South Africa!
Who played ten tests for the All Blacks - but only in NZ?