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!)
All four tests were won by NZ. On this day the 4th test went to the home team by a whopping 38-6 in Auckland.
LAWTON, TOMMY (JNR)
Queensland, Natal and Australia
41 internationals for Australia 1983–89
A grandson of the father of Queensland rugby, the Tommy Lawton of Australian rugby in the 1980s was a big bustling hooker who became a powerful figure in Australian rugby. With his aggressive play and imposing presence on the field, Tommy Lawton was a first-choice hooker for Australia every year after his international debut against France in Paris in 1982. However, such was the competition for places in his home area he actually played for his country before he played for his state team.
As a hooker Lawton was one of the biggest of his time. He weighed in at 110 kilograms (17 stone) in his best playing years.
Like all hookers, he delighted in scoring tries, scoring one in 1983 on Cardiff Arms Park in the international against Wales, thus emulating the feat achieved by his grandfather in 1927. In 1988 Lawton had a great game against Scotland at Murrayfield, scoring two tries.
Earlier, in 1986 he played for the Rest of the World XV against the British Isles in the International Rugby Board’s centenary series.
On the tour of Canada and France in 1989 Lawson captained the Australians in three midweek matches.
In 1990 Lawton shifted to Durban in South Africa, where he played hooker for Natal in its first Currie Cup win.
His brother Robbie, a prop forward, played four tests for Australia in 1988.
Which New Zealand Tennis Sponsor's representative always included two of his 'own' invented words in his speeches at the Heineken Open prize givings in the 2000s - and what were the words?