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20 August 2014
John Roughan in the New Zealand Herald recently wondered if the All Blacks of today have lost the art of losing gracefully. The great Fred Allen was a hard man who drove his team's hard for test wins. Nothing else mattered but to win. His teams played tough for 80 minutes. Yet see how he lost so generously here in 1949 - with the South African captain Felix du Plessis. And Fred's team lost all four tests in a row on that tour!
'It was a try from the end of the world!' said captain Philippe Saint-Andre of his fullback Jean-Luc Sadourny's match-winning 100metre team try at Eden Park.
Auckland and New Zealand
6 internationals for New Zealand 1903–06
The captain of the first All Blacks team in 1905–06 and a controversial player in the eyes of some British writers of the time. Gallaher (originally spelled Gallagher) was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and brought to New Zealand by his parents as a young boy.
He served in the Boer War for the Sixth Contingent from New Zealand.
Because of the absence of international fixtures and Gallaher’s period of military service, he did not play his first test match until he was 28. Originally a hooker, he later became a ‘rover’ or wing forward, the position New Zealand created by packing down only seven men in each scrum.
Gallaher’s play in the wing forward position earned him enormous criticism while on tour in Britain in 1905–06. There were those who labeled him unsporting, and even a cheat. His wing forward style of waiting off scrums, mauls and rucks, either to defend attacks on his own halfback or disrupt the opposition’s man, was not at all appreciated by opposition teams, who had no apparent counter. Several referees penalised him heavily.
As a leader Gallaher was brilliant. He was the first rugby captain to ‘psyche’ his team up. On match days he would ask each man to spend an hour on his own to ‘rest and contemplate the game ahead’. He insisted his team be totally disciplined and pay attention to detail, both on and off the field, much in the manner of professional teams of today.
The 1905 New Zealand team was the first team to use liniment as a playing aid, and to chew gum (not at all advisable these days). It had code names for team moves, and used extra men in back moves, skip passes, decoys and other ruses not before seen in Britain. All of these innovations were devised and encouraged by Gallaher. His team, growing to believe totally in his leadership style, soon built up a formidable record. Only the controversial loss to Wales prevented the All Blacks from having an unbeaten tour record from 35 games.
Gallaher retired at the conclusion of the tour and became a provincial and, later, All Black selector. Tragically he lost his life in Belgium in 1917, during World War I.
Since 1922 the senior club championship in Auckland has been played for the Gallaher Shield, in commemoration of one of its greatest rugby sons. In 2011 a statue of him was unveiled at Auckland's rugby headquarters at Eden Park.
Who said; 'Rugby League is a simple game played by simple people. Rugby Union is a complex game played by wankers?'