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!)
Andy Haden and Frank Oliver conjured up a lineout dive v Wales in Cardiff to fool the ref into giving NZ a penalty; that later led to a 13-12 AB win.
A term given to the rugby world by Argentina. Bajada (also known as bajadita) is the name given to the style of pushing in a scrum where the hooker keeps his feet back and the scrum pushes forward using the thrust of all eight men. While that in itself was not a new technique, Argentine teams, at both club and national level, shocked the rugby world with secret variations of the eight-man shove in the early 1970s.
The results were often astounding. South African players and officials were perhaps the first outsiders to feel the power of bajada when the Buenos Aires club, San Isidro, took the technique to South Africa in 1973. The locals there were shocked to find their teams, with all of South Africa’s history of powerful scrummaging, frequently pushed into a backslide.
Recent law changes have tended to deflate the power of the scrum, but the legacy of powerful scrimmaging remains with Argentine rugby today. The term ‘bajada’ (meaning ‘downhill’) deserves to be remembered.
From 1987 to 2011 inclusive; How many men have refereed the seven Rugby World Cup finals?