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23 September 2014
Adam Julian is a young Kiwi rugby writer on the way up. He is already an expert on New Zealand Secondary Schools rugby - but has a keen and courageous eye on other aspects of the game in our country, including today's provinicial results and their comparison with what has gone before.
An old boy of St Pat's Silverstream College this 28 year-old is based in Wellington still but is trying to crack the Auckland scene.
Adam sends me short missives from time to time.
The stats below don't occupy a lot of space. But ouch! They are are hurtful if you live in Wellington and have loved the capital's rugby down the years.
Here's his summary; Read it and if you live south of Upper Hutt and West of Wainui hold your head in your hands!
"The Wellington Lions have now had seven losses in a row this season; and they are averaging 36 points against them per game.
There have only been 15 seasons since 1880 where Wellington have lost more games than they have won. In 1884 they didn't score a single point, but that year they only played one game! - which was a 0-9 loss to New Zealand before they departed to Australia.
The worst until now was in 1926 when Wellington did beat New Zealand and the New Zealand Maori, but all up they lost 11 other games out of 16 that year, their most defeats in a season.
In 1997 they went 3-7 and conceded 483 points!"
Thanks Adam! (for nothin')
Stern criticism of the 'elite' International Rugby Board was offered by USA Rugby Chairman Bob Watkins at the Asian Pacific Rugby Congress in Hong Kong, leading to the eventual expansion of the IRB from only eight countries to the over 130 nations today.
Jedforest, Newcastle and Scotland
51 internationals for Scotland 1988-99
Described once as ‘a one-off, a complete and utter mystery’ as a person, Gary Armstrong ended his international career remembered as a deeply steadfast scrumhalf whose commitment to any team he played for could never be denied. The 'mystery' referred to extreme shyness.
But like a lot of shy rugby people Armstrong expressed himself strongly once he ran on to the field. He always tackled way above his diminutive stature, was an elusive runner, especially around the short side of a scrum, and above all was unswerving in his courage. He may have been a quiet man but when he played his final game for his country, captaining the team against the All Blacks at the 1999 Rugby World Cup, he was described afterwards by his coach Jim Telfer as ‘the bravest man I ever saw play for Scotland’.
Armstrong made his debut for Scotland in 1988 and only months later was in the British Isles team which toured Australia. On that trip he failed to make the test teams, losing out to Robert Jones of Wales, but in 1990 he played some of his greatest rugby. Not only was he a powerful force in the Scottish touring team to New Zealand, a team which harried the All Blacks over two close tests, but he also played a pivotal role in Scotland’s epic victory over the ‘auld enemy’, England, in the critical Five Nations and Grand Slam match of that year.
Injuries kept him out for two seasons and one time, after 28 tests, he actually retired from test rugby to concentrate on his dearly loved Jedforest team. But Scotland seemed to always call Armstrong back and each time they did he gave his usual 110%. He was captain of Scotland when they won the Five Nations in 1999 (of great satisfaction considering they were 100-1 outsiders when the season started). He also was one of the rare players to play the 1991 World Cup series, then miss the 1995 series in South Africa (he was injured), only to be back for the World Cup in 1999.
He retired from international play after captaining and playing strongly in the quarter-final match against New Zealand on his beloved Murrayfield.
After sevens years of productive play as a professional with the Newcastle Falcons, Armstrong became one of the first professionals with the new Scottish Borders professional team in 2002, signing as a 35 year old on a three-year contract!
How many players of Samoan-birth or Samoan heritage have captained the All Blacks in tests? Name them.