Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
16 August 2014
On a recent away rugby trip (to Nanjing for the Summer Youth Olympic Games rugby sevens) a group of us were sitting around, like reporters do, having a drink and chewing the chat. During the course of the conversation I picked up two or three great stories - all of which will be drip-fed into this 'yarns' selection on the www.keithquinnrugby.com website.
There was one great yarn which was old and which I shall endeavour to re-tell here though with names left out to perhaps protect the 'innocent.'
It concerns an international sports touring team coming in to play a midweek game in a large New Zealand city. In the media group which was following the team was the tour's radio reporter - who was, if you get my drift - a bit of a lad.
The night before the game he met a young woman in the hotel's house bar and after they chatted away, he boldly asked her out. She was keen to accept his kind thought but had other plans for that night. 'What about tomorrow?' she then said.
The reporter had to think quickly - but he said 'yes, let's do something together, no problems at all.'
He did this knowing his radio network back home would be expecting his reports every quarter of the tour game on the following night.
He then came clean and explained to the woman that he was a radio reporter who had to do reports 'tomorrow night.' But he added, 'that's no problem. The game will kick-off at 7.30pm and it will be over by 9pm and we can go out after that. In fact why don't you come to my room and we'll have dinner there and I'll show you how I do the reporting of a top game.'
So at 7pm in his room on the next night, the intrepid reporter straightened his tie, smoothed the table-cloth on the dinner table, opened the door for his new lady friend - and tuned in the room's TV set to local coverage of the game.
And while he turned on the charm for the deeply impressed young lady the hotel's room phone rang every 20 minutes and he was able to tell his home audience of progress in the game. All done while watching the TV screen and holding a glass of champagne in his spare hand. While she gazed at him in wonder and ate canapés! (I made that last bit up - my mind is racing here!)
As the effects of the champers kicked in his reports did get more colourful, especially when rain poured down at the ground and he had to pretend to his fans back home (and his bosses presumably) that he was 'out in the elements' bringing them the dramatic change in conditions as it happened. Yes, he really did make it sound like he was 'out there braving the rain and the possibility of approaching snow.' They were saying that too on the telly coverage.
The only problem was - and this was our man's near downfall - was that at the ground as the game raced towards its climax the rain-storm really did get worse. Soon it knocked out the TV coverage completely. Back at the hotel suddenly a blank screen appeared - and the cosy hotel setting suddenly became a scene of a man's panic and a young women's bewilderment.
It all ended happily of course. I have no details of how the lady, or her virtue, survived the night's drama but the reporter's career did. He was a man who knew how to work any scene it seems. It actually all worked out well.
When the pictures faded out in his room and phone rang shortly after with urgency, he ignored the call.
Instead he coolly sipped another glass of champagne and said, 'if the picture is cut at the ground for the TV coverage it must have also cut the radio coverage too. Well that's what I'll tell them when the picture comes back on.'
That of course is precisely what happened. After a minute or two the TV cameras spluttered and came back on, showing only empty seating and a few stragglers from the grandstands heading home.
When the TV commentator who was actually there in the weather in the sleet and snow, spoke up and apologised at missing the end of the game, he blamed it on the tempest and gave the final score.
That was enough for the hotel correspondent. He jotted the score down, waited for the phone from his station to ring again, gave his final summary when it did (while of course not forgetting to mention how cold and bleak he had now become himself)
Then he clinked glasses with the young lady and reached again to the bottle for a top-up.
And he also went into sports broadcasting history as the first man to broadcast a match summary while he was, shall we say, multi-tasking!
(And I know the name of the reporter concerned. He must never say anything bad about any of my friends ever again!)
It was 145-17 in Bloemfontein. Marc Ellis scored 6 tries and Simon Culhane kicked 20 conversions. Plus from others there was a lot more!
The only trophy for competition between two of the Five Nation teams, the Calcutta Cup is played for between England and Scotland.
The trophy originated in India where the Calcutta Football Club, started by some former pupils of Rugby School in England, found itself facing recession after only four years of existence. Rugby was not suited for the summer-like conditions of India.
The club had only modest resources, but as a closing-down gesture, rather than spend their remaining monies on a dinner or a ball, the members withdrew their remaining rupees from the bank and had them melted down. The silver was worked by the finest of Indian workmanship and shaped into a handsome trophy with three distinctive handles shaped like cobras and an elephant mounted on its lid.
The Calcutta Cup was presented to the Rugby Football Union in London in 1878 for competition between England and Scotland. Since then (with the exception of the war years) it has been a much-prized trophy in the annual Five (and now Six) Nations match.
There is an anomaly in the recording of annual results on the base of the cup. It was first played for in 1879 yet the results of England v Scotland matches from 1871 to 1878 are etched into the plinth of the trophy, years before the trophy came into being!
The original Calcutta Cup is now seldom seen in public. Whether the annual game is held at Twickenham or at Murrayfield the original is stored, for security reasons, in a safe vault. In its histroy the Cup has often been the subject of mistreatment by the players of the day. It is often a full-size replica of the cup which is kept for display at both grounds.
(With thanks to John Mcl. Davidson – Honorary Historian Scottish Rugby Union)
Which well-known sevens rugby coach made this memorable quotation? 'At the Hong Kong sevens bowls and plates are only for eating off - not playing for?'