Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
You are here: Home » What's the real story behind this picture? (Click on 'Favourite Photos' here.)
28 February 2015
This is me at Ellis Park in Johannesburg in South Africa in 1976. Why did this young reporter want to have his picture taken right there? It wasn't just because my name was on the building behind. Click on 'Favourite Photos' here to read about that location's fascinating and sad role in South African rugby history.
Hawkes Bay's Cyril Brownlie is sent off at Twickenham but the 'Invincible' All Blacks still fight hard with 14 men for a 17-11 win over England.
These games have become an anachronism in modern rugby. ‘B’ internationals between second – or ‘B’ teams - of countries were played mostly in the second half of the 20th century. The British, Irish and French were the countries that mostly embraced the idea. For a time, some of the hardest games of each European season came in the international ‘B’ matches. The Wales v France ‘B’ teams, in particular, had some robust encounters between 1970 and 1989 when they met annually.
Internationals involving ‘B’ teams were never as popular in South Africa, Australia or New Zealand, though each dabbled with the concept of fielding a ‘second’ national team at some stage.
South Africa actually used to call its ‘second’ selection the ‘Junior’ Springboks. Australia fielded a ‘B’ team for the first time in 1988 when it met New Zealand. In 1991 New Zealand ‘B’ met Australia ‘B’ in Brisbane. New Zealand won an exciting match 21–15.
In 1992 England B toured New Zealand, playing two ‘tests’ against a New Zealand second team that was called the ‘New Zealand XV’.
Modern marketing phased out the concept of ‘B’ games. In the 1990s they were replaced by ‘A’ internationals. The new concept was a marketers way of enticing the paying public to believe they are not seeing second-rate players in action.
So the short history of ‘B’ teams came to an end. Ironically, this was followed by the decision of many countries, led by Wales, for economic reasons, to not even field an ‘A’ team any more.
Who was the first Welshman to captain the British and Irish Lions on tour?