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6 May 2015
G'day there! Yes, keithquinnrugby.com has been quiet for a few weeks. That's because I am currently out of New Zealand on a private holiday. Yes a holiday! I hope you have noticed my absence! But now here on this website and in the days and weeks to come I'll bring you photographs of some of the incredible sights my wife Anne and I have seen these last few weeks. We are visiting six countries in Europe and North America. The picture you see here is from a wonderful art work which is now available for Scottish people and overseas tourists to enjoy.
OK, some of my pictures might not be about rugby but just as when your old favourite Uncle and Auntie want to show you their best holiday 'snaps' sit back and enjoy ours!
These giant horsey figures are 'The Kelpies' which are two sculptures paying tribute to the heavy horses which pulled boats and cargo along two main canals in the north of Scotland, near the town of Falkirk. The name derives from the mythical Celtic water horses which could transform their shape and were reputed to have the strength of 10 horses and massive endurance.
The two sculptures are 30 metres tall (that's 295 'hands' if you're a horsey person!) and were put onto the site in just 90 days in April 2014, just before the Commonwealth Games in Scotland were held.
Each sculpture weighs 300 tonnes and each is comprised of more than 13,000 individual pieces of sculptural steel. They are the work of the brilliant Glasgow-based artist Andy Scott.
In their first year of existence a million people visited them and gasped in admiration! I can tell you I did the same.
[see more pictures from my world trip by going back to the Home Page here and clicking on either 'Quinn's News Comment' or 'Favourite Photos']
Bob Barber ended his time with the All Blacks in Australia and Fiji; in his last four starting games he was no.8, flanker, lock and prop.
It was with great sadness but with a sense of inevitability that the famous Athletic Park ground in Wellington, New Zealand was pulled down in 2000. For over 100 years it had been known as the ‘Home of Rugby in New Zealand’.
Situated in the base of a high-sided valley running down to Cook Strait, Athletic Park was always in an exposed position, and was battered many times over the years by ferocious Wellington winds. The salty spray contributed to decay in the metallic stability of the double-tiered Millard Stand and after much local angst a decision was made to abandon the site for rugby and move to a new stadium in the city area of Wellington.
While there were many famous days on the superb playing surface, for both Wellington and All Black rugby, it is for its most infamous bad weather days that many remember Athletic Park most fondly.
The worst came in 1961 when the Wellington Rugby Union’s new pride and joy – the Millard Stand – was being ofﬁcially opened on the day of the France v New Zealand match. The southerly storm that weekend brought in winds gusting up to 80 mph (140 km/h) – one of the worst days in Wellington’s history. A large luxury liner, the Canberra, was so buffeted in Cook Strait that the ship could not enter the harbour, just a few miles away. Yet in this tempest a test match was played!
New Zealand won 5–3, with Don Clarke, the All Black fullback, kicking a sideline conversion that travelled across the wind in a crazy curving arc.
Athletic Park has also had its moments in the mud, no more so than in 1977 when the British Lions played the New Zealand Juniors. Not a single player from either side could be recognised at the end of the game.
But Athletic Park could be as effective a playing location as anywhere in the world and on its many top days, presented a ﬂat true ground and seating for the fans that was always close to the action. The record attendance was the 57,000 who crammed in to watch the second test between New Zealand and the British Isles in 1959.
New Zealand played its ﬁrst home test match at Athletic Park, against Great Britain in 1904. In the 1980s the All Blacks scored some handsome wins on the ground, including 42–15 v England in 1985, 46–15 v Argentina in the World Cup in 1987, and 49–12 v Argentina in 1989. In 1992 New Zealand beat a strong World XV 54–26 and in 1997 they posted the highest test score on the ground, beating Argentina by 93-8.
In its last years it became obvious that the facilities which are needed to service a modern rugby match were not all present at Athletic Park. It had very poor players’ changing rooms; there was one shabby function room and no permanent corporate boxes. And though there were some fierce debates about the ground’s future, the advantages of a new stadium in the city were overwhelming. The last test match was played on June 1999. Fittingly the All Blacks gave the old ground a great send off, beating France 54-7.
In which town or city was the first international rugby match played in Wales?