Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
14 March 2017
A Poem for old rugby players...........
When the battle scars have faded
And the truth becomes a lie
And the weekend smell of liniment
Could almost make you cry.
When the last rucks well behind you
And the man that ran now walks
It doesn’t matter who you are
The mirror sometimes talks
Have a good hard look old son!
The melons not that great
The snoz that takes a sharp turn sideways
Used to be dead straight
You’re an advert for arthritis
You’re a thoroughbred gone lame
Then you ask yourself the question
Why the hell you played the game?
Was there logic in the head knocks?
In the corks and in the cuts?
Did common sense get pushed aside?
By manliness and guts?
Do you sometimes sit and wonder
Why your time would often pass
In a tangled mess of bodies
With your head up someone’s......?
With a thumb hooked up your nostril
Scratching gently on your brain
And an overgrown Neanderthal
Rejoicing in your pain!
Mate – you must recall the jersey
That was shredded into rags
Then the soothing sting of Dettol
On a back engraved with tags!
It’s almost worth admitting
Though with some degree of shame
That your wife was right in asking
Why the hell you played the game?
Why you’d always rock home legless
Like a cow on roller skates
After drinking at the clubhouse
With your low down drunken mates
Then you’d wake up – check your wallet
Not a solitary coin
Drink Berocca by the bucket
Throw an ice pack on your groin
Copping Sunday morning sermons
About boozers being losers
While you limped like Quasimodo
With a half a thousand bruises!
Yes – an urge to hug the porcelain
And curse Sambuca’s name
Would always pose the question
Why the hell you played the game!
And yet with every wound re-opened
As you grimly reminisce it
Comes the most compelling feeling yet
God, you bloody miss it!
From the first time that you laced a boot
And tightened every stud
That virus known as rugby
Has been living in your blood
When you dreamt it when you played it
All the rest took second fiddle
Now you’re standing on the sideline
But your hearts still in the middle
And no matter where you travel
You can take it as expected
There will always be a breed of people
If there’s a teammate, then you’ll find him
Like a gravitating force
With a common understanding
And a beer or three, of course
And as you stand there telling lies
Like it was yesterday old friend
You’ll know that if you had the chance
You’d do it all again
You see – that’s the thing with rugby
It will always be the same
And that, I guarantee
Is why the hell you played the game!
Anonymous (or until someone tells me who wrote it!)
Yet again the ABs win 4 Home Union tests in 4 Saturdays. On this day Wales are beaten 37-25.
Counties and New Zealand
35 internationals for New Zealand 1977–85
In his time he was New Zealand’s most-capped hooker, Dalton was also the son of an All Black vice-captain (Ray Dalton in 1949).
Andy Dalton did not make his debut for New Zealand until he was 26, but thereafter maintained his place until the World Cup in 1987, when bad luck hit his cup aspirations.
After being named as New Zealand’s captain for the series, he was struck down by a hamstring muscle injury and did not play. Instead, he watched as his replacement, Sean Fitzpatrick, took over and established himself as one of the top players of the series. Even after he had recovered, Dalton could not win back his place in the New Zealand team. He was reserve for the last three matches.
At the start of his career Dalton became New Zealand’s hooker in 1977, taking over from Tane Norton, who had previously played 27 consecutive internationals in that position. Dalton played 35 tests, so only a handful of players played test matches in the No. 2 jersey for the All Blacks over a period of 20 years.
In the absence of Graham Mourie in 1981, Andy Dalton became New Zealand’s test captain for the controversial series against the Springboks. He soon built a reputation as an excellent leader on the field and a diplomatic and sincere one off it. There were many in New Zealand who felt that when Mourie returned later in 1981 Dalton should have continued as captain.
Dalton again took over the leadership after Mourie retired, and captained the team for the test series against the 1983 British Isles, the All Blacks beating the Lions comfortably by four tests to nil. Apart from the times he declared himself unavailable, Dalton maintained the captaincy until the end of his playing days, leading his country in 17 tests for 15 wins.
He was named captain of the New Zealand team to tour South Africa in 1985 but, when that tour was cancelled following court action, he was denied the chance to follow in his father’s footsteps and play in an All Black team in South Africa.
In 1986 Dalton joined the rebel Cavaliers tour of South Africa as the tour captain and it would be true to say that his involvement in the secrecy surrounding the setting up of the tour, and his association with it, cost him something in terms of public acceptance and popularity.
On their return home, Dalton and the other Cavaliers were banned by the NZRFU for two test matches, a decision which arguably did not affect Dalton as he was out with injury anyway – from a badly broken jaw received on the tour.
Andy Dalton played a significant role in New Zealand rugby, as a forerunner in embracing the style of a busy loose forward, without neglecting the tight forward play of a hooker. He was an expert striker for the ball in scrums and an accurate thrower to the lineouts. He was the first New Zealand hooker to become the lineout thrower. Before Dalton, that job was done by wings.
Dalton was one of the All Black front row trio – together with props John Ashworth and Gary Knight – to be nicknamed the ‘Geriatrics’. They played their first test match together in 1978 and their last in 1985 – 20 tests in all.
In the years after his playing days Andy Dalton has played a significant role as the Chief Executive Officer of the Blues professional rugby franchise.
Which prominent New Zealand rugby personality admits having become slightly besotted by the British Theatre Production 'Les Miserables?'